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#1254050 - 08/22/09 02:34 PM Question regarding holiday music
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
I would like to do a winter recital that encompasses all different beliefs (I can't say holidays because several of my students are Jehovah's Witnesses and won't participate in anything holiday related, no matter what/whose holiday it is).

Do you have some suggestions? I would much rather that these kids get familiar with everything out there, rather than just pretend theirs is the only one (like all traditional Christmas songs).

Ideas? Thanks smile
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1254052 - 08/22/09 02:40 PM Re: Question regarding holiday music [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13706
Loc: Iowa City, IA
I just do two recitals - a winter recital with regular repertoire on it, and a Christmas program that we do at a retirement center or the hospital.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#1254159 - 08/22/09 05:25 PM Re: Question regarding holiday music [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
Mrs.A Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 155
When you say nothing religious do you mean that none of your student will play Christmas songs Or none of your JW will play Christmas songs. I think it would be tricky doing a Christmas recital with a large number of JW.

I gave up Christmas recitals long ago. It was too hard finding enough different Christmas carols in all the correct levels. It is also a busy time for everyone especially musical kids who are already committed to so many Christmas concerts..

Spring is also very buys with graduations and weddings. I due my big recital in October. I call it an awards recital and recognize all the students achievements during the spring and summer auditions This is also the time they play their audition repertoire for their families. I mix in some seasonal pieces. Spooky Halloween type repertoire is interesting and fun to learn…and listen to.
_________________________
Piano Teacher.
Church Music Director.
Kindermusik Instructor.
Mom to four boys.


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#1254165 - 08/22/09 05:39 PM Re: Question regarding holiday music [Re: Mrs.A]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
I mean the JW won't participate in anything remotely connected to a holiday, so I want to have just a generic recital. BUT since it will be in the winter, I would like to include pieces from all different types (Christmas Carols, Kwanzaa etc) and see if maybe they would participate in it. It makes me sad that they won't play in these with us, I wish I could help them see that we're different, not bad!
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1254265 - 08/22/09 08:52 PM Re: Question regarding holiday music [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
Mrs.A Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 155
Hmmm….I’m thinking…

In the FJH Piano Adventures Catalog there is a multi cultural Christmas book “Celebrating Christmas around the Word” It is arranged by Elizabeth Guiterrez and she is always good. FJH is easy to order from their website is www.fjhmusic.com

The problem is most of the traditional Christmas Carols are German and many are written by German composers. Christmas Carols and Piano seem to go hand in hand and so much is available. Kawanzaa music might be hard to find. I am sure that you have consider more contemporary holiday arrangements that don’t mention Christmas. Like Winter Wonderland and Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let is Snow

At one time I had a large number of student from a very fundamental group similar to traditional Mennonite They had no television, organized their own schools and the women all wore similar homemade dresses. They were excellent pianists and very dedicated but because of their religious beliefs they did not participate in anything that appeared vain. That meant no recitals or auditions. They were my best students! It so affected my recitals that I began to refer these students to a semi-retired teacher friend (who was done with recitals) This group was perfect for her…..I don’t know how I got so off topic…

Good luck Ebony. The last few years I have been using FJH In Recital with Christmas Favorite Series. There is a book for every level each and compliments the other levels easily (no doubling of songs). The arrangements are some of the best I’ve seen. Even the primer levels are arranged creatively.

My students put together a Christmas Tape. They learn a few Christmas songs and we record them. They can also include the repertoire they learned during the year. We work on it for a month and then wrap the tape for Christmas and the kids slip them under the tree. This is a BIG DEAL to the students and I am always impressed with how much extra work the kids put into practicing for this project. The recording isn’t the best but it is the thought that counts. One little boy told me his mom was so surprised she cried. He rolled his eyes when he told me but I thought it was sweet.

Last year a young student looked at the cassette tape and asked “where do you plug in the ear phones?” I need to figure out how to record CD’s this year.
_________________________
Piano Teacher.
Church Music Director.
Kindermusik Instructor.
Mom to four boys.


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#1254308 - 08/22/09 10:44 PM Re: Question regarding holiday music [Re: Mrs.A]
Stanny Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/06
Posts: 1461
I think it's a great idea...a lot of the Christmas collections do have some songs that are secular and of other beliefs too.

My students simply LOVE the Holiday recital. They learn their pieces so quickly and have fun playing them for friends and relatives throughout the season.
_________________________
~Stanny~

Independent Music Teacher
Certified Piano Teacher, American College of Musicians
Member: MTNA, NGPT, ASMTA, NAMTA

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#1254343 - 08/23/09 12:10 AM Re: Question regarding holiday music [Re: Stanny]
dumdumdiddle Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 1250
Loc: California
FJH has a book called 'Christmas For All Time' level 2, that's really part of their adult series but I use it for younger students as well. The arrangements are wonderful and sound more complicated than they really are. The book is divided into 3 sections: Traditional Carols, Popular Holiday Repertoire (Let It Snow, Winter Wonderland, and Sleigh Ride), and Seasonal Favorites (Skater's Waltz, Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring, and Nutcracker selections). I would think that students who don't celebrate Christmas would be able to find a winter-themed piece that would meet their approval.

Another thought... while on this subject... I realize that different regions of the country may have a predominance of one religion over another; in larger cities you might have more of an even division of Christian and non-Christian students.

I would say that 95% of the students in my studio celebrate Christmas, so we have a Christmas recital. I'm not going to alter my recital program so as not to offend the 5%. There is a wide selection of holiday/winter/seasonal music available for those students who prefer not to perform Christmas music.
_________________________
Music School Owner
Early Childhood Music Teacher/Group Piano Teacher/Private Piano Teacher
Member of MTAC and Guild

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#1254492 - 08/23/09 10:29 AM Re: Question regarding holiday music [Re: dumdumdiddle]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: Mrs.A
My students put together a Christmas Tape. They learn a few Christmas songs and we record them. They can also include the repertoire they learned during the year. We work on it for a month and then wrap the tape for Christmas and the kids slip them under the tree. This is a BIG DEAL to the students and I am always impressed with how much extra work the kids put into practicing for this project. The recording isn’t the best but it is the thought that counts. One little boy told me his mom was so surprised she cried. He rolled his eyes when he told me but I thought it was sweet.

This a really neat idea. Probably less stress (for us) than a recital too.

Originally Posted By: Mrs.A
Last year a young student looked at the cassette tape and asked “where do you plug in the ear phones?” I need to figure out how to record CD’s this year.

Ha ha, that's cute smile It reminds me of the first time my son saw a vinyl 45, his eyes got huge and he said "MOM! Where did you get that HUGE CD?" It was so funny lol.

Originally Posted By: dumdumdiddle
I would say that 95% of the students in my studio celebrate Christmas, so we have a Christmas recital. I'm not going to alter my recital program so as not to offend the 5%. There is a wide selection of holiday/winter/seasonal music available for those students who prefer not to perform Christmas music.

Agreed. It's sad that we have to worry about "offending" anyone. I would not be offended by hearing a Hanukkah piece, or Ramadan or whatever. I just don't understand I guess.

These are my best students, that's why I really want them to participate.
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1254500 - 08/23/09 10:40 AM Re: Question regarding holiday music [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
There are plenty of secular songs to compliment the religious... or vice versa.

Carol of the Bells or the Holly and the Ivy offends no one for instance, and many of the religious melodies are so gorgeous and familiar that i doubt if any audience would mind a varied and diverse program.
_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

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#1254614 - 08/23/09 02:12 PM Re: Question regarding holiday music [Re: apple*]
Sal_ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/06/08
Posts: 355
Loc: Lacey, WA
I usually just ask each student what they want to play. I only say no if it just shouldn't happen (piece too hard, or too easy, or I don't have, or they're too advanced for us to make one up, or somebody else has already claimed it, etc.) Students have come up with some interesting requests (AFTER they learn they can't play "jingle bells",) and it lends to a nice variety... and their parents can't possibly be offended since the kid chose the song.... right?

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#1254670 - 08/23/09 04:30 PM Re: Question regarding holiday music [Re: Sal_]
Lollipop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
I also try to let my students choose. I find they play much better if they actually like what they're playing! I agree some of the choices surprise me. One 6-year-old student last year immediately answered, "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!" I had to write a simple version for her, but she learned it in record time.

Never thought about the part that the parents can't complain then. smile

I used to have "CD recitals" too! It's fun to see someone else has done it. We'd set individual "recital dates" - the students still had to memorize their pieces, and be ready to spend one entire lesson recording. We made multiple takes, and the student got to chose their favorite. It was a big deal - lots of work for me, though; more than a regular recital. The recording, then choosing tracks, burning CDs, etc.

Last year I had a "piano party." It was held at my house, because I have a large family room, and I allowed each student to bring no more than 3 guests. I had 12 students participate, and we had about 50 people here. We pushed the furniture to the walls, brought in extra chairs, and made all the kids sit on the floor.

Since I celebrate Chirstmas, I make it clear to everyone in advance that there will be Christmas decor, etc. I also let them know this party is not required, as it is not my goal to make anyone uncomfortable. Students that didn't want to play were still welcome to come (only one chose not to play, my shy 70-year-old student, but she still came). I always mention to the parents early in the fall that if they don't want religious music, or if they don't celebrate Christmas at all, to let me know. Even my Jewish student said she didn't care. (She played a jazzy version of Jingle Bells.)

I have simple music crafts set up on the table, and as students arrive, they can be busy with this. Last year they made quarter note ornaments (large jingle bell, with sucker stick poked into the bell loop, wrapped with wire holly that formed the hanger. Even my youngest students - or the younger siblings - could do this, but it wasn't too babyish for the older or boy students.) Paper crafts, music quizzes, etc, would also work as activities.

After everyone had arrived, we had a short recital. Since I only teach beginners, none of the pieces is long. Even my newest students play something. I normally teach in my living room, but have another piano in the family room. So it was a big deal for the students to be allowed to play on "the good one"!

Parents all contributed finger food, and we had a nice reception afterwards. In the spring, when we held our recital at the church, several parents and students told me they hoped I would do the Christmas recital at my house again! It was a nice time for my students and their parents to meet others and socialize around the piano. It was the first recital for many of my students, so it was a gentle introduction.
_________________________
piano teacher

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#1255969 - 08/25/09 04:24 PM Re: Question regarding holiday music [Re: Lollipop]
Roxy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/19/08
Posts: 478
Loc: Whittier, Calif
It is true you will never be able to please everyone. You can call it a Winter Recital and have them play non religious or christmas carol songs and hope they participate and if they don't it will have to be their loss. But the majority of your students will benefit and you will have the satisfaction that you tried and did everything possible. As to a comment made that there are not very many books with the different level of Christmas songs. I don't know where that person shops but I personally own probably 100 if not more of every kind of Christmas at every level imaginable with some of the most wonderful arrangements you would every want to play or hear. Good luck.

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