In this lesson, we’re going to learn how to fingerpick “Silent Night” on the ukulele. As you probably know, it’s a very beautiful Christmas carol, but it sounds especially great fingerpicked.
If you’re a beginner to fingerpicking, this will be a great song to learn.
I will say that “Silent Night” presents a bit more of a challenge than the previous fingerstyle songs we’ve looked at, however, do know that the challenge is a good one!
For an easier song, you might check out last week’s video lesson where we learned how to fingerpick Good King Wenceslas, or you might check out 3 Easy Songs You Can Fingerpick on the Ukulele.
In this video, I demonstrate “Silent Night” on the ukulele and give you some tips and tricks for how to play it. Be sure to download the sheet music and tabs below the video, so you can follow along!
Download the sheet music and tabs for Silent Night here.
Thanks to PDF Minstrel for sharing the music.
Don’t know how to read music or tabs? Learn how to read music here, and learn how to read tabs here.
Another great piece, Brett. Counting the tempo out loud while playing and finger positioning a great help. Well done as usual. Tony Tucker
Thank you so much for doing this piece! I was just here a few days ago playing Good King Wenceslas (which I loved) and then I was looking around for the tabs to Silent Night all over the net today and couldn’t find any that I liked. Then I came back to your site and sure enough there they were! Thank you!
My pleasure! Looks like I read your mind! 🙂
what a lovely version of silent night, i already plat a version of this song and now you have given me a dilemma on which one to play for christmas day, thanx for a nice little headache Brett lol
Hah! Maybe learn both? 🙂
I really like your passion to help us beginners. This song caught my eye, and I’m trying to learn it. This may be a dumb question, but what do the stars mean beside the numbers on the tabs? (as in 1*2* on the first finger-picking) Thank you for all of your hard work in sharing your talent.
Nancy, that’s a great question!
The dots by the numbers in the tab allude to the dotted notes above in the music notation. Whenever there is a dot next to a note, you hold that note for the note type’s (quarter, half, eighth, etc.) length plus half the note type’s length.
For example, the first chord of the song is played as a dotted quarter note. A quarter note gets one beat. A half of a quarter note is an eighth notes. So this means, for a dotted quarter note, you hold the chord for one beat (there’s your quarter note) plus another half beat as represented by the dot.
Another example… If you look at the second measure, you see a dotted half note. A half note gets two beats. A half of a half note is a quarter note. That means you hold the chord for two beats (there’s your half note) plus another quarter note as represented by the dot.
Does that make sense? Let me know!
Brett great job on the vid , one I hope to learn fore Christmas for my twin grand children , thay will like.
That’s awesome. They will love that!
You look like a real nice guy, Brett. Listening to Silent Night here stirred up some memories inside. Kinda wish I had a trumpet to play it as in the olden tymes. Thanks for this piece.
QUESTION: Anyone can send me an answer to email@example.com. I just got my first ukulele yesterday so I’m behind the curve on reading a TAB. How do the four TAB lines correspond to the four strings. Is the bottom line the G string or the A string?
To Buddy above: I’ve got eight grandchildren. I bet your twins will be thrilled. Kent
Interesting fact… I played trumpet for four years when I was younger! I know the feeling…
Check out this lesson on tab:
The bottom line of tab corresponds to the G string.
Brill!!! love the way you put it all across. Are you a School Teacher? if not you should be you have a gift.
Thanks, David! I am not. I’ve never really thought about it before actually! Ha, I appreciate the kind word.
Such a sweet and simple arrangement of a classic carol – thanks Brett! I really appreciate your tips on the finger positions – it’s the sort of thing you work out through trial and error but so great to have that from the start of learning a piece. I used to do a bit of fingerpicking on the guitar and recently bought my almost 2year old daughter Ruby a ukulele (to distract her from my guitars!), but the poor girl’s barely had a look in – I didn’t realise how much I would love it! I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for more uke fingerpicking – will you be doing some more intermediate arrangements at some stage? And I’ll be getting my own ukulele for my birthday very soon, so Ruby can have hers back…;-)
Liz, I love it. I’ve heard from a lot of people who get “hooked” by the ukulele unintentionally (e.g. they buy it for the kids). It’s so great!
Eventually, I want to get into more intermediate songs. Over the past couple weeks, I’ve started with some really easy songs and have gradually looked at more difficult songs. I definitely plan to keep posting more! 🙂
Oh I love this!! And the Good King Wenceslas too! Thank you so much for all the terrific instruction! I’m learning new chords, fingerpicking and so much more. I LOVE the tips on where to place my fingers so that they are positioned well for the next notes!! That is super helpful. Happy Thanksgiving Brett!
Thanks, Jennifer! I’m glad this has been so helpful. Happy Thanksgiving to you too!
Wow, its like it was written for the ukulele. I my wife is lerning to play but i love how you have done this, I might take up the instrement myself too.
Ian, you totally should!
you look a really nice guy. Thank you for your advices. Thay are good and well explain. I´ll keep watching you to play music better. Have fun!
Thanks for this tutorial. I am new to the uke and this might well be the first fingerpicking song that I learn.
I was playing around a bit and found that I could play 5xx6 5xxx xxx0 instead of 5xx6 xxx3 xxx0 in the 18th measure. That’s easier for me. And it is equivalent, right?
Thanks again, and keep that video’s coming!
Hey Rene, that sounds right to me! I’ve found that sometime going to the top string vs. the bottom and vice versa can help my play certain passages of different songs better. It works to do this because the bottom string is tuned only a whole step higher than the top string. As long as you transpose accordingly, it works great!
That’s a great little trick! I’m glad you shared.
Thanks for the lesson, Brett! I find myself more comfortable picking with my index and ring fingers for a lot of notes, especially on the E and A strings. Is there any reason this might be a bad habit?
Travis, thanks for your comment. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of anyone fingerpicking like that before. The only challenge you might run into is fingerpicking faster arpeggios that would happen on a single string. It can be nice to use your index and middle finger to alternate the picking for those types of faster “runs.”
I hesitate to say that your technique is “bad” or “wrong” simply because I know a lot of great artists who do a lot of different things that you aren’t suppose to do and they are amazing at what they do. I would encourage you though to practice using your thumb, index, and middle finger for fingerpicking though.
Thanks for the reply! Apparently, my English is worse than my technique. I meant to say “index and middle fingers.” I don’t pick with my ring finger. Except for my nose, that is.
Brett, hate to ask, but when will you be doing another special on strumming series,missed it 🙁
Hey Keith, I might do another discount for Christmas, but unfortunately, nothing like the Thanksgiving special. 🙁
Great lesson on Silent Night. My question is do have more lessons available in fingerpicking?
I do! Check out my ukulele lesson page here:
Thanks Brett, took advantage of your christmas special, looking forward to going through the course in coming weeks/months.
Welcome, Keith! Merry Christmas to you!
I want to learn this song on my ukulele for the Christmas concert at my school. I have no prior experience with the ukulele and have no idea how to tune it. I use an electric tuner and don’t really know how that works either, but when I play the song, it comes out all wrong. What note or whatever did you have yours tuned in?
Hi KareBear, I’m tuned to standard ukulele tuning for this song (gCEA). For tuning, go here: http://www.ukuleletricks.com/ukulele-tuner/
Great website! I’m new to the ukulele. I am able to play this song, but I have trouble barring the E and A string together. I usually just end up muting the A string. Any suggestions?
Brett, could you do a video fingerpicking silentnight on a baritone?
Hi Brett! What if you have a low G string?!
Actually Brett, I just figured it out…..
Glad to hear you figured it out, Paige! For this song, I used standard tuning but I do have some videos where I am tuned to low G.
Omg this is so pretty you guys need to add more printable picking tabs <3
Hey Brett, I’m brand new to ukelele, and reading music, im so confused on how to read the sheet I read the thing but I’m still having trouble?
Hi Eli, I’m happy to be of assistance, but I’ll need you to be a bit more specific with your question. What are you having trouble with? Also, did you look over this lesson on reading ukulele tabs?
what type of ukulele were you using? concert?
I’d like to learn these Christmas fingerpickin’ songs but like Paige before (who cleverly solved the problem, which didn’t help me!) I have a low G. Would your tab work for Silent Night and Good King Wenceslas or are there changes to be made?
Great question, Rick! To play these songs with a low G ukulele, you’ll need to do a little arranging. All of the notes that are played on the top g-string will need to be played on the bottom A-string or E-string. For example, the open g-string in the tab could alternatively be played on the 3rd fret of the E-string, which is a G note. Unfortunately, at this time, I don’t have arrangements in low G ukulele tuning, but you might head over to PDF Minstrel to see if they have any Christmas song arrangements for low G tuning (I believe Roger does): http://pdfminstrel.wordpress.com/
Thanks for all your help and taking the time to reply to my question. Happy Christmas!
Brett, I always enjoy your hints and your playing the uke. There was a sale of a great book for just a short period of time lately and somehow I missed getting it. Can’t rem. the name either (excuse…Sr. citizen) LOL.
I have an off the wall question for you. Do you play slack key at all? Do you know any sources for music and just watching a really good instructor play and teach on utube? I’m hoping you know something about this.
Hah, Alice, my course is Ukulele Strumming Tricks, which you can learn more about here, if you’d like. I don’t play slack key at all. I want to say I’ve seen some decent tutorials on YouTube, but I can’t remember what they are. Sorry!
Brett, nice work on the Christmas Songs. Thank you.
For the tabular reading of the songs, what happens when you have a low G string? Thank you.
Hi Hal, please see my comment just a few above to Rick addressing the low G string.
Brett, can you please write ttis song’s tabs for a high g ukulele?
sorry, I mean tabs for a low g ukulele .
A metronome helps tremendously people. I’ve been playing 3 weeks & even though I go reeeeeealy slowly, like 48 tempo (lol), it still sounds like SIlent Night. Peace
I just bought a ukulele and I enjoyed watching you play Silent Night. I wish I had a song book so I could learn how to play some songs. Thank you.
Hi Brett! Thank you for this wonderful holiday song! I was playing this and my husband wanted to strum along on his guitar but we have’t been able to find the chords to match harmoniously. Any suggestions?
Ha! Ok, as I was looking around the rest of your site, I found the strumming version with the chords. Thanx! Happy Thanksgiving!
Glad you found it. For anyone else wondering, you can get the chords for Silent Night here:
This is amazing, my little sister is finding difficultys. Is there anyway you could do a very easy version than this?
Brett, thank you so much for posting this. I am a guitar player and recently picked up a ukulele and taught myself a few things… but for the upcoming holiday, i wanted to be able to play some carols for my family. I bought a couple of books that show chords for christmas songs/carols, but no fingerpicking tab. So happy i found your site and will be coming back again and again. My 93 year old grandmother’s favorite carol is Silent Night and I have asked her to sing solo with my accompaniment on uke. As I said, she is 93 and will hopefully be with us for many more holidays, but with your help I plan to make this a special one for her. Thanks again and happy holidays!
I’m enjoying learning this song. My question is in the middle of the song where there are three notes stacked do you finger pick these or strum the three strings?
Hey, Karen! You could do either, however, in this arrangement, the notation indicates that all three notes that are stacked would be plucked simultaneously. Generally, if you see a squiggly arrow next to the stacked notes, that is an indicator to strum the notes, but in this case, there is no squiggly arrow, so I would simultaneously pluck them.
Thanks so much for the fingerpicking songs I am a intermediate ukulele player and I am just learning to fingerpick songs
This is just wonderful. Thanks so much for doing this and answering questions. Huge help for a beginner. One of the nicest arrangements of Silent Night I have heard. Merry Christmas!
You’re welcome! Merry Christmas!