Resource Roundup: Choosing the Best Christmas Music for Each Student

Christmas is here! Kind of. But I recently had the pleasure of one of my favorite store tasks of the year – sorting and organizing Christmas music! And because 2020 has been one crazy trip around the sun, I am definitely ready for the Christmas season and some hanging twinkle lights.

My students don’t begin practicing their Christmas music until November 1st (I am a holiday purist, and want to celebrate each one to the full as much as is possible), but I am getting my feet wet and thinking through their options this year. And so with all of this swirling around in my head, I thought it might be timely to present to you some of my favorite arrangements. I know that coming into a music store and seeing the vast array of so many different books can be daunting!

So before you tackle the list, or look through my suggestions, here’s a couple of things to keep in mind when choosing Christmas music 🙂

  1. What is your goal? This will determine which books you choose. Personally, I do not view Christmas music as an opportunity to challenge my students. We usually use it as a fun and uplifting break at the end of the year. This means that I will be choosing books that either exactly match their level or are slightly below level from their everyday repertoire.
  2. What method are they playing in? As crazy as this may sound, I try not to align their Christmas book with their method book. This is the easy route, as almost every method has an adjacent Christmas series. But through my years of teaching I’ve come to realize an unfortunate fact. Students who only play from one series and/or publisher have a difficult time playing music that looks “different” than what they are used to seeing. Their new repertoire can be the exact same level, but seem daunting and turn them away from learning it. Silly? Yes. Fact of life? Yes. Why not use Christmas music to break the mold this year?
  3. What does your student want to play? Some families are staunchly against traditional carols and what is considered church music. Other families will only allow the traditional songs and do not want any popular Christmas in the repertoire. Sometimes students have a certain bent (often what they’re used to hearing and can recognize), while other families don’t celebrate Christmas at all. I’ve learned to ask – some families don’t celebrate but encourage learning new music; other families find any type of Christmas music offensive. If there is a strong preference, you will often hear about it front the parents. If not, students still enjoy getting the opportunity to have a say in their music. Why not let them browse titles on the website before ordering from your local music store?

After carefully considering each of these questions for your students, you get to roll up your sleeves and have some fun actually picking the books! Click the link below to see some of my favorites … hopefully this helps you along in the process!

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