Of course I have this songbook!
Vince Guaraldi’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas” must be one of the top-selling music books of modern times. (As of this writing, it ranks #1 in Jazz Songbooks on Amazon and #3 in Musicals and Film.) In fact, there’s such a bounty of editions and arrangements that the first challenge with “A Charlie Brown Christmas” might be identifying which sheet music will meet your needs and your skill level.
Beginners can check out entry-level versions like easy, beginning piano solo, or the particularly simple big note piano. There are piano play-along editions featuring notation and online audio backing tracks. A number of the key pieces like “Linus and Lucy,” “Skating,” and “Christmas Time Is Here” also show up in Vince Guaraldi collections. There are Kindle editions of many of these books, and on sites like MusicNotes you can purchase digital sheet music and also browse arrangements from artists who have put their own spin on the tunes.
For purists and advanced pianists, the big question is whether the notation you’re getting is an artist transcription, true to the original recordings — and even which transcription rings truest to your ear. Some reviewers of the more advanced songbooks point out how different editions’ versions of “Linus and Lucy” do or don’t contain particular sections of the extended bridge solos.
The arrangements in my 1991 CPP Belwin edition feel accurate enough; they’re satisfactory and occasionally even challenging arrangements for yours truly (self-taught intermediate pianist with a regrettable tendency towards being a lazy counter). My copy is so old that it doesn’t actually have an ISBN, but I believe that this current edition hews closely to the same intermediate arrangements.
The book’s song list matches the original soundtrack album: from the magical “Christmas Time Is Here” and Guaraldi’s jazzy takes on classic Christmas carols to the infectious groove of “Linus and Lucy” (here’s where that lazy counting catches up with me — or when counting pays off). There’s even a two-page arrangement of Beethoven’s “Für Elise,” an honorary holiday song these days thanks to Schroeder’s devotion.
While you’re browsing to get your Charlie Brown piano fix, remember to check the reviews; people are so devoted to this music that they often want to share detailed information about which editions have satisfied their cravings. And then you, too, can experience the pleasure (and/or challenge) of grooving like Schroeder.
Where to find it: "A Charlie Brown Christmas" by the Vince Guaraldi Trio transcribed for piano by Bill Galliford and David Pugh SONGBOOK: "A Charlie Brown Christmas" piano solo songbook available for purchase in paperback or digital editions on Amazon and on Hal Leonard. Or find individual Charlie Brown Christmas songs for purchase as digital downloads at MusicNotes.com. Publisher: Hal Leonard (2001) ISBN: 0634029797 Status (2021): In Print