Everyone has a favorite holiday song and I think This Christmas by Donny Hathaway is mine. Enjoy my This Christmas Donny Hathaway Piano Tutorial!
This Christmas Piano Tutorial
This Christmas was released in 1970 and was written by Donny Hathaway and Nadine McKinnor. It is referred to as the “premier holiday songs written by an African American” and paved the way for other Black artists to write massive holiday hits. (I’m looking at you Mariah Carey!)
Remarkably, the song wasn’t much of a hit for Hathaway and only really hit its stride recently, making it’s first appearance in the Hot 100 in 2020.
Fun fact: Donny Hathaway plays piano and sings on this track. One more vote for Piano Skills for Singers!
3 Steps to Authentic Pop Piano Arrangements
I detail this entire process in this video. I have used this process to learn hundreds and hundreds of songs and my students absolutely love the simplicity of learning pop songs on piano this way.
I find a copy of the lyrics or I just type them up from the recording. I then figure out the chords on a chord website or I just learn them by ear. If you want to learn to play by ear click here for a video I made where I outline how to learn to play by ear
Learn the Chords on Piano
Step #1 Learn the chords on piano. This can be as simple as playing them in root position, or if you are a more experienced pianist, you can find the inversions that sound the best to you and voice lead your way through. This Christmas has some tricky jazz-influenced chords!
Play the Groove
Step #2 is to figure out how to play the groove. You can use a simple pattern or more complicated, depending on your level. Remember that you’ll have to sing over this, so don’t make it too hard!
Identify the hook
Step #3 is to identify the hook, bass line or any other aspects that help to bring it to life. Again, you can make this as simple or complicated as your piano chops will allow you. For this song, I highly recommend you take the time to learn the horn intro. I show you how in the video!
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