Wednesday, December 17, 2008

O Holy Night: Traditional or Contemporary?

Countdown to Christmas with Christmas Carol Trivia # 3: O Holy Night

One of the most beautiful Christmas songs of all time is "O Holy Night". It's lyrical melody with flowing accompaniment suggest a modern composition, yet carolers have been singing this tune for 150 years. Here are the facts:

• Originally written as a French poem, “Cantique de Noel” by Placide Cappeau
• Music was composed by Adolphe-Charles Adam in 1847
• English translation by John Sullivan Dwight in 1855
• Became the first Christmas carol to be played live on a radio Christmas program in 1906.
• Rich’s Great Tree in Atlanta, Georgia is lit on Thanksgiving Day every year when the highest note of “O Holy Night” is sung.

Read more . . .

Only 8 more days until Christmas!

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Good King Wenceslas: Fact or Fiction?

Countdown to Christmas with Christmas Carol Trivia: # 2 Good King Wenceslas

Did Good King Wenceslas really exist? The song itself is a reminder to Christians to be kind to the poor, but it is based on the life of a real person. More facts about the "good king":

  • The lyrics to "Good King Wenceslas" were written by John Mason Neal in 1853.

  • Music to "Good King Wenceslas" is a carol from the 13th Century.

  • Duke Wenceslas, prince of Bohemia lived during the late 800's and early 900's.

  • He is the patron saint of the Czech Republic.

  • He was known for his charity toward the poor.

Read more . . .

11 More Days Until Christmas!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Jingle Bells: The Story Behind the Song

Countdown to Christmas with Christmas Carol Trivia: #1 Jingle Bells

Many of us grew up singing "Jingle Bells" every December. Where did the song come from? Do we know who wrote it or is it an anonymous "public domain" song? Here are a few little-known facts about this famous tune:

  • Written in the 1850’s by James Pierpont, who was the uncle of J. P. Morgan, the famous banker. J. P. Morgan's full name is James Pierpont Morgan.

  • Originally titled “One-Horse Open Sleigh

  • Earliest known recording: 1898 by the Edison Male Quartette

  • Never mentions the word Christmas or anything, other than winter activities, that is related to Christmas.

  • The melody to the chorus as originally published sounded more classical than the commonly accepted melody today. It is not known when the melody was changed or who made the changes.

Read more . . .

12 Days until Christmas!

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Creative Recital Ideas

The holiday season is an excellent time to find new ways to showcase your students. Here are just a few examples of unique performance opportunities:

1. Assisted Living Facilities. The residents will appreciate the opportunity to encourage and interact with your students. Students benefit from performing for strangers in a low-key environment.

2. Shopping Malls. Malls often welcome entertainment during this time. One local music organization owns a piano that is housed in an area mall. Teachers belonging to the organization schedule recitals on this piano and collect donations for a fundraiser.

3. Christmas Parties. Ask a few selected parents if they would be willing to host a Christmas party for some or all of your students and their families. Students could provide the entertainment and their families can bring the food.

More ideas, anyone?

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Thursday, December 4, 2008

More Online Resources

The internet is packed with useful information. Two more excellent resources for music teachers can be found at and is filled with teaching tips for music students. Teachers will benefit from finding new words of wisdom to pass on to their students. Or, students can access the site directly. Either way, everyone wins! offers valuable resources for music teachers, including teacher websites. Teaching tips and relevant articles are offered by a variety of authors.

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