Christmas Listening 2015

I love to set aside time for a guided Christmas listening during the last week of school before Christmas Break.

A Christmas listening is especially enlightening because the songs are so familiar. You can find a bunch of wildly different versions of one song, and listen back to back. Because the song is known, we can use this as a jumping off point to talk about lots of other concepts:

  • tone
  • timbre
  • blend
  • arranging choices
  • form
  • phrasing

This year (last night) we listened to seven different versions of “The Christmas Song”, the immortal classic by Mel Tormé and Bob Wells. We started with the best-known version as way of centering on our perspectives, and then proceeded.

  1. Nat “King” Cole The Christmas Song (1961 version)  [iTunes] [Amazon]
  2. Chanticleer Let it Snow [iTunes] [Amazon]
  3. James Taylor At Christmas [iTunes] [Amazon]
  4. The Manhattan Transfer The Christmas Album [iTunes] [Amazon]
  5. Ella Fitzgerald Ella Wishes You A Swinging Christmas [iTunes] [Amazon]
  6. Take 6 We Wish You A Merry Christmas [iTunes] [Amazon]
  7. The Real Group The World For Christmas [iTunes] [Amazon]

[Playlist on Spotify]

I strongly encourage you to take advantage of the common language of Christmas carols to enable some higher-level thinking from your students about interpretation and musical choices.