Christmas Tutorial for Piano Beginners and Intermediates!


Ilinca Vartic - Christmas Tutorial PianoCareer.comHi guys!

Today I have two special Christmas video tutorials for you! 😉

The first one is addressed to beginners, while the second one is accessible to intermediates and addressed to ALL piano enthusiasts that have at least 3-4 years of piano experience :D.

With these tutorials, we continue the Christmas tradition that I launched in 2012, with the tutorial Learning How to Play 5 Easy Christmas Carols. Holistic Tutorial for Piano Beginners.

And, just like last year – we’ll practice today’s pieces by using the professional principles of the Russian piano school 8), combining the fun with the useful, and developing our technique and our expressiveness, our analytical skills and our artistry by playing beautiful Christmas music! 😉

Let’s begin!

In the first tutorial we’ll analyze and practice, in a detailed step-by-step manner, the famous piece O Christmas Tree (in a special arrangement for piano beginners) – and you’ll also be able to listen to my demonstration of Boogie on Down to That Manger (a jazz arrangement of the carol Away in a Manger).

Enjoy!!! 😀

Christmas Lesson for Beginners. O Christmas Tree. Boogie On Down to That Manger. Detailed Tutorial.


Click on the link below to download the score for O Christmas Tree with my fingering, pedaling and dynamic indications:
O Christmas Tree

Video highlights:
00:02. Introduction.
00:50. On our ‘menu’ today…
01:10. Before we start, a little recommendation!

02:11. O Christmas Tree – demonstration.

03:17. O Christmas Tree – detailed analysis.
03:30. The main challenge of this piece – its three-voice structure.
05:13. Analyzing the basics: time signature, tempo indication, tonality.
05:36. The form of the piece and its phrases.
08:13. The articulation effects and the dynamics. Dynamic nuances involved in voicing.
09:50. Analyzing the structure of the musical text.

10:50. O Christmas Tree – practice recommendations. A few words about the LH.
11:50. Focusing on the RH. Let’s begin by listening to the melody!
12:39. Remembering one of the most important secrets of phrasing. Bringing out the ‘shape’ of the phrase by using dynamics.
14:48. Practicing the RH. Learning how to voice the melody. The ‘walking’ metaphor and a useful voicing exercise :).
16:50. Applying the acquired voicing skills to the RH. Practicing the first part of the piece.
20:04. Arm relaxation equals a beautiful sound.
20:48. Practicing the middle section of the piece, RH.
22:51. Practicing the Reprise and the Coda, RH.
23:52. Practicing both hands together, the first part of the piece.
25:45. Practicing both hands together, the middle section.
26:51. Practicing both hands together, the Reprise and the Coda.

27:29. O Christmas Tree – detailed pedaling guide.
28:35. How to change the pedal in places where the upper voice creates dissonances with the harmonies from the lower voices.

32:07. Boogie On Down to That Manger – demonstration.

33:28. Conclusion – and Merry Christmas!!!

And now – the second Christmas tutorial 😀, where we will discover (in the same in-depth manner) a beautiful piece arranged for intermediates: The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire); then, for ‘dessert’, you’ll be able to listen to my demonstration of Good Swing Wenceslas (a jazz arrangement of the carol The Good King Wenceslas).

Christmas Lesson for Intermediates. The Christmas Song. Good Swing Wenceslas. Detailed Tutorial.


Click on the link below to download the score for The Christmas Song with my fingering, pedaling and dynamic indications:
The Christmas Song

Video highlights:
00:02. Introduction.
00:49. On our menu today…

01:37. The Christmas Song – demonstration.

The Christmas Song – detailed analysis.
03:43. Identifying the artistic concept or the ‘story’ behind the music.
04:27. Analyzing the basics: tempo, tonality, time signature.
05:03. The three-part form of the piece.
06:11. Identifying the phrases by following the lyrics of the song :).
09:53. The instrumental three-part form vs the verse/chorus song form.
10:50. Analyzing the structure of the musical text. The expressive challenges of this piece. The accompaniment.
12:02. The melody and its layout. The one-hand polyphonic structures in the RH and the resulting voicing challenges.
13:11. The main expressive tasks of the Reprise.

The Christmas Song – practice recommendations.
13:49. Everything begins in our mind: setting clear expressive tasks before starting our practice.
14:35. The quick attitude-posture-key attack checklist.
15:03. The importance of practicing hands separately first, by using the ‘magnifying glass’ method.
16:28. Practicing both hands together, with pedal. The Introduction.
17:29. How much rubato can we use in this piece? The importance of having strong rhythmical pillars.
18:27. Practicing the first 4 phrases (bars 3-10). Phrasing and applying the Intoning Technique.
21:06. The importance of mental and technical anticipation.
24:41. Using a correct fingering in bars 7-8. Voicing tips for the RH upper voice.
25:38. Playing the melody more expressively than the accompaniment.
26:23. Practicing bars 11-18.
29:19. Practicing the middle section of the piece.
30:47. Emphasizing the dialogue between the upper voice and the lower voice.
33:22. Making an expressive, professional connection between the middle section and the Reprise.
33:55. Practicing the Reprise. Mastering the “Merry Christmas” culmination.
39:56. Practicing the Coda.
40:39. Conclusive practice recommendations for this piece: a good expressiveness is not a random phenomenon – it is a calculated result of mindful, purposeful practice!

42:37. The Christmas Song – detailed pedaling guide.
44:40. Your hearing is your main pedaling guide!
47:06. Pedaling micro-nuances and the role of experience in creating an ‘automatic’ connection between your hearing and your foot :).
48:43. The direct connection between voicing and pedaling.

51:07. Good Swing Wenceslas – demonstration.

52:13. Conclusion – and Merry Christmas!!!

Get access to the analysis, practice recommendations, pedaling guide and scores for Boogie On Down to That Manger and Good Swing Wenceslas by becoming a member of my Piano Coaching Program at! 😉

In the Private Members Area you will also discover hundreds of other exclusive piano playing tutorials focused on a new approach to piano playing that will transform your expressive & technical skills and bring them to a whole new level!

At the end of each year it’s always very interesting to look back and highlight the most special moments :D.

2013 has been an incredible year for (which is almost 2 years old!!!): many new exciting projects, countless new tutorials – and lots of inspiring moments together with my awesome online students!!!

This year we launched the step-by-step Scale Tutorial (you can find the Introductory Lesson here on – How to Practice Piano Scales and Arpeggios – The Art Behind The Exercise), the Piano Masterpieces project, and only a couple of weeks ago we had our first Piano MasterClass (an online interactive event where you can share your recordings and get my detailed feedback in video form) – which was an amazing experience that will certainly continue in 2014!

And, last but not least, we’re continuing the step-by-step Video Practice Guide for Beginners based on Nikolaev’s Russian School of Piano Playing (you can find Lesson No. 1 on this site as wellNikolaev’s Russian School of Piano Playing. Detailed Practice Guide)! This project was launched in September 2012 – and until today (20th of December 2013) I have posted 51 progressive Lessons-episodes (and I will continue to post a new Lesson every fortnight, until we reach the end of this super-useful method book!).

Needless to say, all this activity has ‘serious consequences’ on our database of tutorials, which grows at an ‘alarming’ rate every week LOL – not to mention the thousands of exciting piano conversations where our members share their experience, their piano goals, their  dilemmas and their dreams! 😀

By the way – here is the Complete List of Available Tutorials that you can find on!

And now it’s your turn to share one or two special ‘piano moments’ that made 2013 a year to remember! 😀

  • What new pieces did you learn?
  • Did you have public performances? How did they go?
  • What lessons did you learn?
  • What are your biggest accomplishments/disappointments for this year?

Share your experience in the comments below – and don’t forget to tell me what you think about the Christmas tutorials that I posted today! 😉

Have a MERRY CHRISTMAS and a joyful, bright, successful and incredible New Year!!!

See you in 2014!!! 😀


P.S. Many new articles and video tutorials are coming soon on! Follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Google + (and now also on Pinterest!) to get instant updates, support and motivation! ;)

If you enjoyed this piano tutorial, here are some other piano practice and learning topics you’ll like:

Tchaikovsky – Waltz of the Flowers. Piano Tutorial. Lesson No. 75 (Video Course for Beginners)

6 Responses to “Christmas Tutorial for Piano Beginners and Intermediates!”

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  1. Prasana kumar says:

    Hi Ilinca madam,
    I’m a beginner so I choose to practice o christmas tree.The video is easy to understand and to follow.It also gives detailed analysis of the music.I’m going to practice this song.Thank you for making it as a step by step guide.I like to play this are my role model.

  2. Don Freeman says:

    An excellent resource. I found your talk through to be very helpful and instructive. I need to sign up and work through the scales tutorials and develop some technique.

    • Ilinca says:

      Hi Don!

      Thank you – and I’m looking forward to welcoming you to! 😉


  3. lesly alvizures says:

    hello ilinca: my name is lesly and i want to learn this song but i cant memorice the notes, so when i can find de sheet of music. . you are an excelent teacher.

    • Ilinca says:

      Hi Lesly!

      Thank you! As I mentioned yesterday (in my reply to your YouTube comment), the score for “The Christmas Song” can be found in the post above. Simply click on the download link below the first video :).

      Enjoy! 😉

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