New Holiday Music

Here is my latest article on Music Teachers Helper:

Here it is again – time to plan for my next studio Holiday Recital! The following is a flowchart of what needs to be done when:

  1. Venue – Call various venues (churches, libraries, school halls) in town and see which ones are available on what dates. Decide on the date and pay a deposit to secure the venue. This must be done by early October.
  2. Notice – Let students and parents know when and where the recital will be, and see how many students will participate. Deadline for registration is end of October.
  3. Invites – Make postcard invitations with students names on the back. I design and order these from Vistaprint. This must be done by the first week of November – it takes about two weeks to arrive in the mail (to avoid hefty shipping fee), so students still have plenty of time to hand these out to friends and family.
  4. Music – Select what each student is going to play. Some students will play regular classical repertoire, some will play Christmas music, some will play duets with a sibling. I try not to have duplicates of titles, so we do not have 10 kids playing Jingle Bells! This must be done by mid November.
  5. Gifts – Decide what to give to each student at the recital. Purchase these by end of November to allow plenty time for personalization/wrapping.
  6. Program – Start working on program order as soon as possible, but go to print just a few days before the recital to allow for last minute changes.

Of the above, number 4 takes the most amount of time. Every year, I am on the lookout for new arrangements of Christmas music. This keeps the recital fresh, so we always have something new to listen to, as well as the familiar favorites that everyone loves. Here are the new additions to my ever-expanding Christmas music library:

00-41465Famous and Fun Christmas Duets, by Carol Matz

This latest addition to the Famous and Fun series includes three books of carefully graded seasonal favorites, from Early Elementary to Late Elementary levels. The pieces are artfully arranged and balanced for two evenly-skilled players. I use this series for families that have multiple students studying with me. Sometimes the siblings are of similar level, other times one sibling may be more advanced, in which case the music can serve as good sight reading material, and both players benefit from developing better sense of rhythm and ensemble performance skills.

Christmas Impressions, by Catherine Rollin

00-41464There are now three books in this series, from Intermediate to Late Intermediate levels. After two decades and countless happy teachers and students who have played Books 1 and 2, Catherine Rollin has finally delighted us with Book 3! Here we have beautiful Christmas carols arranged in a charming, contemporary style. There is extensive use of arpeggios and broken chord patterns, but the music sounds more sophisticated than it actually is. This series is perfect for teenagers and adult students.

Sheetmusic, by various composers

00-105760One of my all-time, most favorite Christmas melody is the Carol of the Bells. I am pleased to find that Alfred has published this in sheetmusic format, with three different levels of difficulty – elementary, late elementary, and early intermediate. This timeless melody has been arranged by different composers; the Elementary version is arranged by Gayle Kowalchyk and E. L. Lancaster, the Late Elementary version by Robert D. Vandall, and the Early Intermediate version by Melody Bober. The Elementary version comes with optional teacher duet accompaniment. All three versions capture the rich, unique harmonic quality of this piece, and the solo versions make clever use of the damper pedal to achieve the distinctive, glorious sound of the bells.

What Can I Play for Christmas, by Cindy Berry

00-41469As well as selecting music for my students, I also try to find something new for myself to play during this special time of the year, to share with my friends and family. I also take this opportunity to try a new composer I am not familiar with. This year, Cindy Berry has caught my eyes. Her book contains a variety of moods, from spirituals, uplifting tunes, haunting melodies, and traditional carols. They are easily preparable, I do not have to spend hours practicing, and the music conveys a spirit of reverence, awe, wonder, and joy – perfect for church performances as well as intimate family gatherings.


Do you organize a holiday recital for your studio? What are some of your favorite Christmas arrangements? I hope everyone has a fantastic holiday season during the most wonderful time of the year!


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