Christmas / Winter Concert
Songs for “Bigs” (Grade 4-6)
Choosing songs for the “Bigs” (grade 4-6) is a careful process. They need songs that will challenge them and be musically interesting, but they also need material that will help them achieve success and not feel embarrassed or belittled in any way. This is a “tightrope walk” for teachers trying to negotiate comfortable territory for students who are sophisticated in their music preferences without being able to replicate that sound with the skills they have at their disposal. They are pre-teen children, but they want to be “grownup” in their activities.
Although “Bigs” may be capable of adding complexity to music class activities, expecting them to duplicate that in a performance setting, in front of an audience, may be a different story. Challenging students is good, but keep the end performance in mind as you plan.Older students love presenting songs that receive a laugh from the audience for clever humour or maybe some slapstick comedy. Adding the element of “theatrical flair” may be just what your class clown needs to be in the spotlight for a good reason, when they might otherwise be uncomfortable singing or trying to be serious.
The Singing Yeti
...is a tale of a mysterious creature singing in the mountains. The Yeti is far too shy to join a choir, but perhaps singing from a distance will do just fine. This humorous song is an impressive vocal study and an engaging performance piece for vocal recitals or school concerts.
Ugly Christmas Sweaters
...celebrates the holiday fun of ostentatious knitted winter wear. With an optional alto line in the refrain, this song can be a fun introduction to harmony singing with the teacher or a crowd-pleasing ensemble number in your next concert recital.
It's Snowing (Oh yes! / Oh no!)
It's Snowing! (Oh, Yes!/ Oh, No!) is a seasonal two-song set that can be performed as a collection, or singers may choose the version that best reflects their true feelings about winter weather. Do you absolutely love snow or is it the worst thing ever? Let the music tell your side of the story. This cabaret-style song is a guaranteed hit at your next winter recital or concert. Suitable for soloists (of any age) or elementary choirs.
Skating is a jazzy waltz extolling the virtues of skating on frosty winter days. Skaters love finding a pond, a rink, or a lake, and gliding across the ice. Long phrases make this song an excellent opportunity to sing in a legato style. Let’s go skating!
It's Christmas Time
It’s Christmas Time explores many of the things that make Christmas such a special time of year. The lyrics and long phrases are a good challenge for older singers. This song is written with a “classic” Christmas sound including a sweeping melody line and an instrumental interlude featuring French horns.
Additional Songs for “Bigs” (Grade 4-6)
The gentle lyrics of this song express the sentiment that we can spread hope and love to those around us in the same way a star shines light for our world from the dark night sky. “Star Above” is combined with the American spiritual, “Great Big Stars” with adapted words for Christmas, or performers may use the original “Great Big Stars” lyrics and the song is appropriate any time of the year with its theme of hope, peace and light.
I Got a Sister (but I wanted a dog)
If music teachers are looking for a song to include in a December concert that is not Christmas based, this is a great song choice. I Got a Sister (but I wanted a dog) is about wishing for a special gift and then receiving something completely different. In fact, if one is hoping for a dog and a sister arrives instead, that could be a real disappointment! Students will love this “complaining” song written in a blues style. Have some improvisational fun and add solo dog whining in the instrumental section.
Vacation Song” is written with catchy syncopated rhythms and a cheery musical style and works great in concerts with a “winter” theme. Each member of the family has decided to go on vacation: some go to warm spots, others to cold ones, but the singer is left behind! While everyone is learning to play instruments in their various travel locations, the singer takes bongo lessons. After writing a letter asking everyone to return home, the family is reunited and everyone joins in for a fun musical jam. This family travel story provides the opportunity to add a variety of instruments and encourage improvisational contributions in each chorus.
Waiting Patiently for Santa
This is an amusing peek into one household where the storyteller is describing all the things they are doing while waiting “patiently” for Santa on Christmas Eve. Somehow the singer has been keeping busy while waiting so “patiently”: rearranging the ornaments on the tree, rattling and shaking presents, and even eating Santa’s milk and cookies. Students will love the humour of this jolly song, and will identify with the frustration of “waiting, waiting, waiting patiently!”
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Composer, Elementary Music Specialist
Donna Rhodenizer has been composing music for young singers for over 35 years. Donna LOVES composing Christmas and winter songs, and her students are always keen to see what she will pull from her imagination and turn into a song. She has used her original compositions in the many school Christmas concerts she has organized during her years as an elementary music education specialist in schools in Nova Scotia. Donna’s Christmas concerts are “legendary”, and have been well-loved by her students and appreciative audiences. Donna is delighted to plan and organize concerts and create music memories for her students. She is keen to share her years of concert-planning expertise to help her music-teaching colleagues with their concert plans.
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