Our Teachers’ Share Their Favorite Holiday Songs

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Whether or not you like– or even celebrate– Christmas, you’ve gotta admit that it inspires some great tunes. A powerful genre, Christmas music evokes strong feelings and memories- just ask our teachers!

Below, they share some of their favorites, and the stories behind them. Stay warm out there, and Happy Holidays!

Silent Night

“In college I was part of a handbell ensemble, and each year at Christmas we did a lessons and carols service in the chapel. The service ended with the handbell choir playing ‘Silent Night’ while the congregation sang. By this point in the service the sun had set, so the whole chapel was lit only by candlelight. I always loved those two minutes.” -Sean

This Christmas

“Besides Donny Hathaway’s amazing vocal performance and the smooth-as-silk groove, I love the irregular meter in the intro, and the second chord in the chorus (a dominant chord on the flatted fifth of the key– same as the 2nd chord in ‘Love on Top’ by Beyonce) gets me every time!” -Lucas

Driving Home for Christmas

“I have lived far away from my family for the past 15 years, but we always travel home to see each other during the holidays. This song reminds me of those great memories we share.” -Ylva

A Christmas Festival

“This is an orchestra piece and has some really awesome brass moments. It’s basically a mash-up of holiday classics.” -Adrienne

Winter Wonderland

“I love the imagery in the song and that it’s happy and pretty at the same time.” -Ylva

Jingle Bells

“It’s fun to start slow and then play it faster and faster until you can’t go any faster.” -Ylva

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

“I love how such an ancient melody can still have such strong emotional resonance today. Its simplicity means the song is very versatile, and can be adapted to a seemingly infinite number of musical settings.” -Lucas

The Holly and the Ivy

“It’s a simple yet joyous Christmas carol that I never tire of singing or playing.” -Dominic

Feliz Navidad

“I love seeing students playing this song together, and the surprised and happy faces of their families, all so proud!” -Deanna

The Little Drummer Boy

“I just love that it’s about a kid who doesn’t have much, but gives what he has and tries his best.” -Sarah D.

O Holy Night

“I started singing that at Christmas when I was pretty young and still love getting the chance to sing it. It’s such a gorgeous song!” -Leah

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

“This song reminds me that the holidays aren’t always so joyful for some people, and that I should be thankful that it’s easy for me to be home with family.” -Steve

“The song always invokes a distinct image of Christmas morning in my mind. Since the tempo is slow, there are opportunities for a variety of simple to intermediate/advanced arrangements, which I love sharing with students.” –Andrew H.

What songs fill *you* with the holiday spirit?

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