One of my most treasured parenting memories was Archie’s 6th birthday.

His birthday is a few weeks before Christmas (he will be 8 this year).


On his 6th birthday, we all went out for a big family meal.

Archie had a songbook featuring the words and images of the song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas”.

He was in the restaurant (which was quite quiet) and he randomly got up and started singing the song.

Not loudly, but in a nice way. It was a super cute moment, and he got a lovely applause. I guess the other people there thought it was like an impromptu carol service or something!

Anyway, this was very out of character.

He does not like a huge amount of attention.


I got thinking about that wonderful birthday/Christmas memory when I wrote the title for this email.

‘The 12 Pitfalls of Christmas’

What do I mean by that title?

Well, Christmas carols are traditional songs which do not tend to have one definitive version.

That means we can play the song in any key.

We can put our own spin on them and spice them up or simplify them as much as we like. (That is hard to do with a song like “Stairway to Heaven” or “Sweet Child o’ Mine).

This can create a problem though…


The problem is that there are 12 keys in music.

Which key do you choose when playing a song like this?

So many options, so much potential to go down a blind alley.

I’m a huge believer in playing the melody, adding in simple bass notes, and then spicing the song up like a dash of nutmeg in your eggnog.

Doing this in some musical keys is tough – sometimes brutal.


That’s why when you learn a song (or you arrange your own) it is wise to choose your key carefully.

Some keys are better suited to this style of playing.

Some are filled with awkward stretches and lots of tricky movements.

And that means more potential to trip up and make mistakes.


Over the years, I’ve learnt this the hard way.

I used to play a version of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” in the key of G.

It was inspired by a version I saw somewhere.

…But playing it was tough.

I didn’t enjoy the movements, and I knew my students would find it hard and therefore not much fun.

I almost gave up on the song.


But I tried it in another key, and another.

Eventually, I created an arrangement that was ideal – melodic, with lots of open strings, and plenty of room to embellish it.

It was like a gift from Santa.

It just goes to show sometimes you have to persevere with songs and ideas.

…And if something isn’t working, change it.

You can make any song work with enough perseverance and thinking.


But, if you want the hard work done for you, then you might want to try out my Christmas Crackers course. It features five arrangements that I have spent many hours refining. I’ve tried all the arrangements in multiple keys, practised them in alternative positions on the fretboard, experimented with where to spice them up, etc.

The reason why…

To give my students songs that sound great, will push them technically, but mostly will bring joy to them when they play them.

The hard work has been done so you don’t have to fish around on YouTube for hours on end finding some fun and suitable tunes to play this Christmas.

I’m NOT saying these songs are a breeze to play, but they are as good as I could make them in this style.


Just remember – all songs take practice and focus, especially when learning them at first.

…But if this interests you, you might like to check out the course.

Tomorrow, the early bird price ends.

Also, if you order before tomorrow night’s deadline, you’ll get two very cool bonuses.

Here is the place to find out more:

Christmas Crackers: Play 5 Beautiful Carols, a Stunning ‘Medley’, and Get Exclusive Bonuses


Dan Thorpe

Guitar Domination


P.S. This post was originally taken from Dan Thorpe’s private email list. To get blog posts like this sent to you which are full of great tips to make fingerpicking, strumming, and learning guitar more enjoyable (especially if you are over 40) join Dan’s list. It’s 100% free, HERE.

Add Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.