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