Shorter days, a nip in the air, and for many, turning the clocks back one hour means that winter will soon be here. Along with the change in season comes the opportunity for a change in repertoire—Christmas music! From popular melodies to traditional carols and everything in-between, the sounds of the season bring added joy and meaning. With over 25 different Christmas publications in the Piano Adventures catalog, there is something for every student! Consider four broad categories: books within the Piano Adventures method, the PreTime® to BigTime® series, duets/small ensemble collections, and materials for the adult learner. Let’s take a closer look…
Each level of the Piano Adventures method contains a supplementary Christmas book. Paired with appealing arrangements of time-honored carols and holiday pieces are musical “stocking stuffers” that explore elements of sightreading and analysis. What a fun way to reinforce concepts found within each piece! And, with six stocking stuffers per song, students have a different warm-up to play each day of the practice week.
In addition, each Christmas book includes theory activities, teacher duets (Primer through Level 2B), and numerous opportunities to explore rhythm identification, score analysis, and transposition. The engaging, interactive material builds upon skills that students encounter in the method books, and the colorful layout adds a splash of seasonal fun as well. With so much comprehensive content, a student’s regular theory books might just go on a “Christmas vacation” until January!
PreTime to BigTime Piano Christmas
For exciting solo arrangements of holiday favorites, including Christmas pops and traditional carols, look no further than the PreTime to BigTime Christmas series. These supplemental books contain impressive sounding pieces that complement the skills addressed throughout the method. PreTime Piano (Primer) offers fun arrangements that utilize limited staff notation while PlayTime Piano (Level 1) explores 5-finger melodies. Teacher duets are included in both books as well. ShowTime Piano (2A) begins the gradual move outside of the 5-finger range while ChordTime Piano (2B) explores accompaniments that use the I, IV, and V7 chords. FunTime Piano (3A-3B) and BigTime Piano (4) feature more sophisticated chord and arpeggio patterns that help create richer sounds for the maturing pianist. Occasionally, students may encounter notational elements not yet officially introduced in the corresponding method level, but these can easily be handled by rote.
The PreTime to BigTime Christmas series also features background accompaniments available in the Piano Adventures Player app or Audio Cloud. These festive play-along tracks add a splash of cheer to daily practice, studio recitals, and gatherings. For larger spaces or when more amplification is needed, an external speaker can be connected to the mobile device, ensuring that all audience members can hear the performance.
Duets, Small Ensembles and More
For many, the last 18 months have seen disruptions and changes to cherished traditions and events. As students reunite with family and friends, playing ensemble music is the perfect way to create new memories and traditions while exploring and refining collaborative skills. One might even think of ensemble music as the musical gift that keeps on giving!
DuetTime Piano Christmas (Primer through Level 2) is a delightful series that celebrates a student’s budding ensemble skills with charming arrangements of holiday favorites. Each level features Primo and Secondo parts of equal difficulty, and both parts take turns playing the melody and accompaniment in each piece. These musically satisfying duets make for a well-rounded experience in which students develop and refine fundamental ensemble skills such as listening for balance, maintaining a steady tempo, and coordinating the beginnings and endings of performances.
The Collaborative Artist series showcases chamber music for the late-intermediate to early-advanced level pianist arranged for flute, cello, and piano. The peaceful setting of Silent Night and the spirited rendition of Joy to the World are perfect for high school friends, community groups, worship services, and adults seeking to collaborate with others.
Remember that young beginners love to collaborate, too! My First Piano Adventure Christmas Books A, B, and C feature engaging teacher duets that allow young beginners to experience the joy of ensemble playing. My First Piano Adventure Christmas Book A is an especially good pre-reading collection for students who have just started Piano Adventures Primer Level but are not quite ready for staff notation. Each My First Piano Adventure Christmas Book includes a music calendar activity page that serves as a fun review of the concepts and skills found in the music.
Pre-Reading Christmas offers a slightly different type of collaboration for the young beginner. Story, illustrations, and music come together as audiences follow siblings Lisa and Andrew throughout the Christmas season. This collection of ten pieces uses both pre-reading and limited staff notation. Pre-Reading Christmas also presents a wonderful opportunity for inter-generational music making. With an older relative or friend reading the story and a student (or students) playing the pieces, sharing music with others takes on a special role.
Adults—Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced
The ability to play holiday music is often one of the many reasons given by adults when starting or returning to lessons. Both the Adult Piano Adventures Book 1 and 2 have corresponding Christmas collections of familiar carols, humorous Santa songs, and winter favorites.
Adult Piano Adventures Christmas Book 1 features a variety of easy arrangements that begin with single line melodies and gradually incorporate simple harmonies and primary chords in the keys of C and G. Book 2 presents pianistically arranged early-intermediate favorites. With access to online audio recordings of the repertoire and orchestrated accompaniments, adults can enjoy their own backup orchestra!
Anticipating the music needs of adult students is easy when they are currently playing music out of Adult Piano Adventures Book 1 and 2, but what about adult students who are working on more advanced repertoire? Adults progressing out of Book 2 are equipped with the skills to transition into Piano Adventures Level 3B. The combination of beloved melodies at the intermediate level make FunTime Piano Christmas (3A-3B) and BigTime Piano Christmas (4) great next steps as adults continue their musical journey.
From Christmas recitals to holiday gatherings to music floating throughout the home, the season offers countless opportunities to honor old traditions, make new memories, and grow musically. Whether savoring a peace-filled afternoon at the piano alone or hosting a long-awaited gathering with friends and family, ’tis the season for a little fa-la-la-la-la! Let’s raise a cup of kindness and merry music-making to ALL!