Frère Jacques

Frère Jacques, a song presumably French in origin and commonly known in English as Are You Sleeping, Brother John?, is possibly one of the best known nursery rhymes in the world.

I’ve put together a simple arrangement in the key of G. This arrangement keeps a steady rhythm on the bass, with a low G sounding on beats one and three.

Frere Jacques 1
Frere Jacques 2
Doug Sparling copyright

Though this arrangement is relatively simple to play, there is one spot to watch out for. For the first two measures I play the bass note with my third finger. On beat one of measure three, I again play the bass note with my third finger. On beat three, the melody moves to third position, and when making that position change I quickly switch my fingering for the bass note and use my thumb instead. I also play the bass notes in measure five and six with my thumb. I try to let the four eighth notes at the start measures five and six ring together (which is why I chose the fingering across the top three strings).

Once again, I hope you’ve enjoyed playing this tune as much as I have.