If you are working hard to choose the perfect holiday pieces for your students, today's post is for you! Keep reading to see my top tips for choosing the perfect holiday piece for each and every student in your studio....
Before choosing music for your students, a quick chat with their parents is in order. I like to say something like, "My students usually work on holiday music this time of year. Is that okay with you?" That opens the door for parents to let you know if there are any types of music they would prefer their child not to play.
I have worked with students of many different religious backgrounds, and I have always found a way for each student to play something that is seasonal but appropriate to their beliefs, so that they feel included in any holiday events we have in our studio.
Looking for options for winter-themed and non-religious seasonal music for your students? Check out my blog post with ideas for winter-themed pieces at a variety of levels HERE.
Tip #2: Figure out what goals you and your students have for your holiday selections.
Are you planning a showstopper holiday piece for a recital? Or maybe your student wants to play pieces that would work for a family sing-along over holiday break? Knowing what your goals are for holiday music can be helpful for selecting just the right piece. For example:
- Looking for a recital showstopper? Keep an eye out for unique arrangements or medleys of pieces that will stand out at a recital. (My "Rockin' Christmas" and "Medley Magic" series of books are great options if you are looking for recital showstoppers!)
- Looking for an easy piece that will review concepts your students have already learned? Look for a book that correlates with your student’s current method book. Most method book series have leveled Christmas books, which makes music selection easy.
- Looking for a familiar piece that can work for family sing-alongs? Look for a more traditional arrangement that has a clear melody line and includes lyrics. A fake book might be a great option, too.
- Looking for a piece your student can play for holiday church services? A lyrical, sacred arrangement will probably work best in this situation. (Check out my "A Peaceful Christmas" collection for some ideas for this style of piece!)
Tip #3: Know your levels, especially when shopping for holiday pop arrangements.
Leveling can be especially tricky when shopping for pop arrangements, since publishers often use different terminology than those used in method books. The terms many publishing companies use are:
- Five-finger piano = elementary
- Big note piano = late elementary
- Easy piano = early to mid-intermediate
- Piano solo or Piano/Vocal/Guitar = late intermediate to early advanced
On my own website, I tried to make choosing the right level as easy as possible by listing both the level name (elementary, late elementary, etc.) as well as the approximate method book level (Level 2, Level 3, etc.) in the description of each piece. Check out my Christmas catalog HERE!
Tip #4: When in doubt, go down a level and choose a book that can work for multiple years.
When students don't have any specific goals for their holiday music, this is the option I usually go with. Choosing an easier book means that students are able to learn several pieces well before the holidays. Then, we can put the book away and pull it out next year, when students should be able to play every single piece easily!
Tip #5: Give students 2-3 options and let them choose their favorite.
I've blogged often about the benefits of giving students choices! Choosing holiday music is no different. I like to pick several pieces of varying styles and let students choose their favorite. Or, we pick a collection with a variety of pieces so that students can choose their favorites as they work through the book. Either way, I know students will get the opportunity to pick pieces that are special and meaningful to them--pieces that will hopefully serve to create lots of happy holiday memories at the piano this year and beyond!
What do you think? How do you and your students choose holiday music? I would love to hear your ideas in the comments!