Christmas calls for amazing music. In fact, music is one of the things that makes the holidays so special. In this post you’ll find solos, duets, at least one trio, and some wintry music. Let’s get to it!
Pick #1 A Jolly Little Jingle – Piano trio, unequal-part
Did you know that Jolly Old Saint Nicholas and Jingle Bells can be played together in counterpoint? They can! And it is gorgeous! This piano trio (1P6H) is an audience favourite, and it also gives you a great opportunity for audience participation. It’s fun, playful and puts new twists on these old standards that will have your audience sitting up and paying attention.
Take a listen to this YouTube recording of A Jolly Little Jingle:
The piece is written in ABA’ form, A — Jingle Bells, B — Jolly Old Saint Nicholas, and A’ — Jingle Bells and Jolly Old Saint Nicholas in counterpoint.
- First (A) you will hear Parts I and II playing a lyrical, expressive version of Jingle Bells.
- Next (B), Parts I and III play a gypsy, minor version of Jolly Old Saint Nicholas (Part II plays along with a countermelody).
- The return of (A’) brings back the lyrical Jingle Bells but with the added bonus of Part III playing Jolly Old Saint Nicholas simultaneously for true Christmas counterpoint!
How does the audience participation work?
First print and cut out these colourful cards, one for each tune. Print them for FREE from my Printables page, here.
Prior to your performance, invite children in the audience to come forward and gather in an open space on the floor in front of the piano. These participants may be piano students, younger siblings or friends. Give each child two cards, one of each.
The Jolly Little Jingle book offers a quick and easy lesson on counterpoint that your whole audience will understand, even the youngest children. During the performance when the participants hear Jingle Bells, they’ll hold up the green Jingle card. Then, the red card with Jolly Old Saint Nicholas. When both melodies are played together and your participants can hear counterpoint, they’ll hold up both cards.
Where can you buy A Jolly Little Jingle?
It’s available in my shop (click here). Here are samples of the notation:
Jingle Bells is arranged for Elementary students, Level 1.
Jolly Old Saint Nicholas has clean, easy-to-read notation for your earliest staff readers.
The book comes with two different arrangements for Part I (the accompaniment). First, for small hands with broken three-note chords/triads (Intermediate).
An optional second version of Part I is for larger hands with broken four-note chords (Early Advanced) — this is featured in the YouTube video above.
Get A Jolly Little Jingle for your studio Christmas performance and add a touch of comfort and joy to your holidays! Click here to buy A Jolly Little Jingle.
Pick #2 Jolly Pachelbel — Piano duet unequal-part
Jolly Old Saint Nicholas and Pachelbel’s Canon sound heavenly together.
Your earliest learners can play this beautiful yet easy arrangement of Jolly Old Saint Nicholas. There are many versions of this piece in existence for beginners. This one is special because it is arranged with extra notes that intermingle with the canon to great effect. Play this YouTube video to listen for yourself:
There are two versions of the duet in the book.
For your Early Elementary readers, the early staff version is in C Major and includes an introduction (not shown) with stepping notes.
But — some children are not yet ready for staff reading by Christmas. Rather than rush them, why not allow them to learn a favourite in the notation they already understand? That’s why this book also comes with an alternative pre-staff version that sounds just as beautiful.
Have you noticed how many pre-staff pieces always stick with the same old key of C Major? Have you wondered why? There is no reason for this, as pre-staff notation gives a wonderful opportunity to play anywhere on the keyboard. That’s why you will notice that this pre-staff arrangement is in F Major. It offers the student a different key just for the sake of interest. Musical children often get bored hearing only C Major for their solid first year of playing. Why not give them some variety?
Where can you buy Jolly Pachelbel?
Jolly Old Saint Nicholas and Pachelbel’s Canon (nicknamed Jolly Pachelbel) is available in my shop. Click here to buy Jolly Pachelbel!
Picks for all levels!
For advancing students, you may want to choose a versatile piece of repertoire for your Christmas recital, a piece that can also be performed elsewhere, or polished for a music festival or exam. Many of the following repertoire picks are versatile.
Pick #3 White Frost on My Window — Level 1
With a delicate ostinato bass underpinning the piece, White Frost on My Window has a lonely, pretty, frosty sound.
White Frost on My Window is available as an eSheet or in The Color Collection Junior, a collection of 10 Elementary to Late Elementary piano solos. Click here to buy White Frost on my Window.
Pick #4 Jingle Bell Swing — Level 2
Jingle Bell Swing has an intro and coda set to the jazzy little line, “jingle all the way.” The repetition makes it easy to learn and yet sound sophisticated.
Jingle Bell Swing is available as an eSheet or in Old MacDonald had the Blues, a collection of 12 Late Elementary to Early Intermediate piano solos. Click here to buy Jingle Bell Swing.
Pick # 5 Red Line — Level 5
Red Line takes its inspiration from winter sport. The red centre line in every hockey rink marks the place where the puck drops and the intensity begins. The boogie bass and tight harmony jazz chords aptly capture the energy felt in the arena.
Red Line is available as an eSheet or in The Color Collection, a collection of 10 Early to Late Intermediate piano solos. Click here to buy Red Line.
Pick #6 White Drift — Level 6
If you could capture in sound what big white snowflakes look as they are swirling through the air, it would sound like the Level 6 piece, White Drift. It is in C-sharp minor, but don’t let that make you nervous. It is based on a black key pattern and when the thumb tucks on the white keys, falls very naturally under the hands.
White Drift is available as an eSheet or in The Color Collection, a collection of 10 Early to Late Intermediate piano solos. Click here to buy White Drift.
More Picks from composer friends!
Pick #7 Snowdrifts — Martha Hill Duncan (Elementary)
“Snowdrifts is an Elementary duet written for two of my more promising piano students, Madeleine and Sofia. The secondo (the older sister’s part) is at a Level 3-4, while the primo (the younger sister’s part) is within stationary 5 finger positions and can be read or taught by rote.” – Martha
Pick #8 Hockey Sticks — Susan Griesdale — Level 2
“A fun Late Elementary (Level 2) piece for wintertime! Hockey Sticks is easy to learn and an exciting piece where the fingers get to score a goal!” – Susan
Pick #9 40 Below — Susan Griesdale
Winter! (Levels 1 to 4) is a fun piano collection of character pieces to brighten those dreary winter days! Containing lots of wintery activities such as Snowboots’n Shovels, Hockey Sticks, Snow Day, The Blizzard Blues, 40 Below, Icy Sidewalks, Shivers, Runaway Toboggan, Blustery Winds, Cold Noses!
Pick #10 — Toy Collection — Teresa Richert (Elementary)
Toy Collection is a book of 11 solos for Elementary Piano by Teresa Richert. Here’s the link:
Pick #11 Outdoor Skating Rink — Janet Gieck
From composer Janet Gieck, Outdoor Skating Rink is in the collection Dances, Daydreams & Dinosaurs.
Pick #12 Winter Sun — Janet Gieck
Winter Sun is in the Red Leaf Pianoworks Anthology I, Sprouts.
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