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Sounds of the Season

Christmas is almost here and everywhere you turn, there is holiday music playing. Whether your style is the Christmas classics of Bing Crosby, the jazzy instrumentals of Mannheim Steamroller, the newest offerings of pop stars such as John Legend, or the soundtracks of Charlie Brown or the Polar Express, everyone seems to love hearing the same old favorites, year after year. Christmas is a time when music can instantly bring back memories of holidays past.

Many students love to learn to play Christmas songs. They can be some of the most rapidly learned music of the year, due in large part to how familiar the tunes are. It’s easy to spot a mistake when you know how the piece is supposed to sound. Sometimes a piece is a little harder, but even then the desire to master a favorite song is strong and students usually rise to the challenge.

One of my older students decided to tackle an arrangement of Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride this year. He enjoyed the challenge but admitted that it had been more difficult than expected. I reminded him that Christmas favorites are pieces that we return to year after year throughout our lives and as time goes by, we find that eventually we are able to master those arrangements that once seemed daunting. Tattered and worn copies of Christmas music that belonged to my mother are some of my most cherished pieces of music. I remember being a little overwhelmed with the difficulty of some of them as a child, and now they feel like old friends.

So, enjoy the Christmas music flowing from the piano in your home, even if the performances are a bit halting at times. Encourage your young performer to keep trying and sing along with them anyway. To paraphrase a favorite Christmas tune, next year all those mistakes will seem far away.

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