Tag Archives: Elementary Christmas music

Twelve Days of Christmas

The Twelve Days of Christmas

The Twelve Days of Christmas

 The Twelve Days of Christmas

Whenever I update my music or graphics for my own students, I like to share them with you. This has been on my website a long time, but when I was just about to print it out for a student, I decided I wanted to update the picture of the partridge. While I was at it, I spaced out the measures so it would be easier to read.

I tried to make this music look appropriate for all ages, so you can use this with beginning adults as well as children.

It is very easy  to improvise a duet with this song, since you can harmonize it with 4 chords while the student plays an octave higher.

Click on the link  or the  picture to download.

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Filed under Christmas, Elementary Music

Jingle Bells with Rhythm Instruments at a Group Lesson

Jingle Bells with instruments

I bought the electronic version of the new book by Philip Johnston called The Dynamic Studio: How to keep students, dazzle parents, and build the music studio everyone wants to get into. (Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate because I get questions about where to buy the things I write about. Amazon sends me a few cents if a reader buys something from clicking  the book link.) Philip Johnston writes inspiring books that get me enthused to teach in different ways. One of his main ideas is to be different; don’t always do the same thing. Maybe that was on my mind when I decided to use rhythm instruments in my group lessons.

After an unsuccessful search for an easy piano/rhythm band ensemble I could use in a group lesson without a lot of preparation, I wrote my own.  I arranged this specifically to be easy enough that they could be successful without having to practice, so please keep that in mind.

I  wrote the second piano part for an electric bass, which some students can play. This part can also be played on the piano, so I call it Piano 2 in the score. You can also use bells or any other tuned instrument, and it sounds fine to omit it.

The first group was my youngest students. They absolutely loved the instruments. But if you have ever used rhythm instruments with young children, you know what a challenge they are.  I didn’t mind that some of them could not play the written part and just played the steady beat.  I was surprised that a few of them actually followed the score. I let the little beginner on the bells shake them through the entire song rather than the way I wrote it in the score. No one in that group reads well enough for the piano part. I had to play by ear because I could not find the piano score! That seemed to amuse the young group.

The second group of 9 and 10-year-old students was absolutely the right age for this activity. Without any practice, (except for the Piano 1 part, which I gave to a 5th grader the week before) they were able to read the score and play the correct rhythm. We traded instruments and repeated it a few times. I am only sorry that I didn’t record it, because they did really well. The student playing the piano part was thrilled to be part of an ensemble.

After that, we changed directions and performed on the piano for each other using good performance skills. Everyone had learned a Christmas song or a favorite piece. That did not take too long and we went on to the next activity.

They had all been looking at the electric bass and wondering why it was there. We discussed the history of the electric bass and how it was like the double bass. I also got in some theory with the older groups, as we discussed the root of chords and how that is an easy way to play the bass. This is where taking our state theory exam really helped. I demonstrated with my meager guitar skills (Me on the electric bass, how funny was that!) and then let them all try it.

Our last activity was playing a Thanksgiving board game, with different level cards for each age group. I was relieved my students enjoyed the game because I had not tried it out with a group. Even my older students had fun and reviewed some theory at the same time. Finally, we just had enough time to pass out cookies and candy canes, and they all left happy.

Later I asked what was their favorite activity. Can you guess what it was? The rhythm instruments! So with that in mind, I am sharing my simple score with you. Feel free to change the instruments to whatever you have on hand, even homemade instruments.

Obviously you don’t need a score for this simple rhythm section, but my students found it interesting, and it helped me focus. If one of your students has a family member who can play the Piano 2 part on the electric bass or any other instrument, that would be really fun, especially for a Christmas recital! Please alert me if you find any mistakes in my score, as I don’t have an editor. Have fun and if you have a successful performance, let me know!

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Filed under Christmas, Group lesson ideas, Holiday Music, Rhythm

Silent Night Level 2

Silent Night

Each year I buy my students a Christmas book at their level or maybe just a little below their level. I want them to be able to learn them quickly, except for my older students who want to work on something longer.

One of my students had a book without Silent Night, so I made this for him. He was hesitant about the dotted quarter notes, but I told him to play like he sings it, and then it was fine. I have this little ditty that I sing, “The rhythm is the way the words go, yeah.”

Actually, I have plenty of time to teach him how to count, but for now I just want him to enjoy the seasonal music we all love.

When I made the art work, it had interesting textures that didn’t show up when I made it so tiny.  But at least it adds a little color.

I have a Primer/Level 1  version on my website, if this one is too hard.

Enjoy the season!

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Filed under Christmas, Holiday Music

Good King Wenceslas

Good King Wenceslas

I don’t think too many of my students know this carol before I teach it to them. While I was doing research, I discovered it wasn’t in any of the many denominations of hymn books I have around my studio. I remember singing it in school and I always liked it.  But in today’s world, children are not exposed to Chrismas carols as I was growing up, so I like to teach them to my students.

Even though your students may not know it, they  love to hear about the good, kindly king who helped the poor man stay warm during the cold days of winter. It reminds us that not everyone is  as fortunate as most of us are.

This is a song with not very many skips, so you always find it in beginning level Christmas books. I shaded the left hand for the beginning students who have trouble knowing which hand to use. Notice that the left hand thumb is on B in my version, but the fingering  can  easily be changed.

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Filed under Christmas, Holiday Music