Reviewed by you: Christmas

David Catterall

Integrating Christmas carols into our lessons has more worth than we think! For the student who wants to play them, not only are they great for sight-reading and extra material (40 piece Challenge perhaps?) but by focusing on the ‘performance’ aspect of Christmas carols, going home and performing these pieces for their friends and families – it gives our students a ‘stage’ to practice performing in front of others. A skill we all know is sometimes hard to master!

  1. Christmas at the Piano – 23 Seasonal Selections
147023 - Christmas at the Piano
147023 – Christmas at the Piano

This is the perfect Christmas repertoire book for the more advanced pianist. It includes a mix of the Christmas favourites such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and The Little Drummer Boy alongside the more popular hits you’ll hear on the radio such as Winter Wonderland, I’ll Be Home for Christmas and Jingle Bell Rock.

The Jazz style of the songs gives way to interpretive playing with pieces ranging from a grade five stand and above. Some pieces do require a larger hand span but these can always be edited by a teacher or even the student to suit their span.

  1. My First Christmas Carols Song Book
128578
128578 – My First Christmas Carol Songbook

This is an excellent repertoire book for the beginner pianist learning at a preliminary to grade two level. Every single page has a nice coloured border and title. Some pages include illustrations depicting the story of the songs.

Finger numbers have been included to guide the student. Most pieces are set out across two pages for easy readability and minimal disruptions for page turning. Chord indications and lyrics are also included for each song which allows the student to explore different ways of learning and playing the songs.

  1. The Piano Guys – A Family Christmas
123361 - Piano Guys Christmas
123361 – Piano Guys Christmas

I was excited to see this book! I follow The Piano Guys on YouTube and their arrangements are nothing short of breath-taking. I encourage students to explore music online and this is no exception to my list of recommendations.

The Piano Guys, contrary to their name, is a Piano and Cello ensemble of two people who often record multiple parts. This book includes a cello pull out which encourages the pianist to create music in an ensemble setting. The piano part includes piano solos as well as pieces with the cello, whereby the piano covers a more accompanist-style approach however the book reinforces that the cello part is in fact optional.

  1. The Christmas Variations – 8 Classic Carol Settings by Phillip Keveren (Piano Duets)
126452 - Christmas Variations Duet
126452 – Christmas Variations Duet

Phillip Keveren’s piano publications have been increasingly filling my shelf this year and this has to be one of my favourites! This book has eight duets arranged for familiar Christmas Carols with small twists on the original to keep you guessing what’s coming next.

The parts are easy to learn since a lot of it is written in octaves. This book would be suitable for students around grades 4 to 6.

  1. Bach Around the Christmas Tree – 18 Classic Christmas Carols in the Styles of the Great Composers
2500384 Bach Around the Christmas Tree
2500384 Bach Around the Christmas Tree

One thing I love is mash ups and this does not disappoint! Combining Christmas carols with classics by the greats, you’ll be sure to enjoy finding Moonlight Sonata mixed in with God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and The Entertainer mixed in with Jingle Bells! It’s fun for the whole family to listen to!

I also love a book that requires no effort when it comes to page turning! Each piece is set out perfectly to fit on a couple of pages or with a very easy page turn all the while it is still easy to read. This book is suitable for students grade three and above.

  1. Christmas for All Time – Adult Piano Adventures Book 1
FF1370 - Christmas for All Time
FF1370 – Christmas for All Time

Adults are very keen to be able to play recognisable songs as soon as possible. This book is set out perfectly to accommodate for that. It is divided into three sections that ranges through Primer level to level 2 and each section is full of familiar Christmas repertoire.

Another perk for this book is its small paragraphs on the history surrounding each Christmas carol, as well as teacher accompaniments for the introductory pieces, and a CD for recordings of all tracks as well as MIDI tracks with adjustable tempos for the student to play-along with.

  1. American Popular Piano – Christmas Book 1
220270 - American Popular Piano
220270 – American Popular Piano

Christopher Norton has really hit the mark with this one! This is an excellent pedagogical book for teaching students in the areas of Lyrical music, Rhythmic music and Ensemble music. Backing tracks are provided for the ensemble pieces which sound even better when accompanied with the teacher accompaniments.  The tracks are accessed online with a username and password provided in the book.

Each piece also comes with thought-provoking questions to the student to establish greater musical playing. Early preliminary students will benefit most from this book.

  1. My First Piano Adventures – Christmas Book A
My First Piano Adventures
FF3001 – My First Piano Adventures

The Piano Adventures method series is my go-to for almost all my students and their supplementary books are well in abundance alongside them. This Christmas book is the perfect fit for very young students learning pre-stave music. It is a mix of familiar tunes alongside some other Christmas themed music. Pre-reading music is quite limited so this is a fantastic inclusion for all early learners.

  1. Christmas Classics – Five Finger Piano
311766 - Christmas Classics
311766 – Christmas Classics

This book is excellent for late Primer-early level 1 students. The Five Finger Piano series is well known for their quick to learn arrangements and excellent teacher accompaniment books. This one includes the lyrics for singing along and almost all songs are written in treble clef for both hands.

  1. Christmas Hits – Volume 4
316166 - Christmas Hits Beginning Piano Solo Play Along
316166 – Christmas Hits Beginning Piano Solo Play Along

This is a cute little book of classic favourites for the late elementary students. The arrangements are simple, with guided finger numbers and minimal page turning. A bonus for this book is the CD accompaniments with adjustable tempos!

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Reviewed by you: Christmas

Integrating Christmas carols into our lessons has more worth than we think!...
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