Christmas fun

said: Dec 2, 2005
 103 posts

Hi everyone,

Do any of you ever do anything fun with group class or in private teaching, for Christmas? I would especially be interested to hear about any Christmas games that one could use in Group Class.

My focus in group is a mixture of technique and ensemble playing (learning to listen to each other and stay together- and a few other things as well)

The students range from being in Twinkle—Gossac Gavotte(violin). Though it would be fun to hear idea’s for any level because I always love new idea’s! Thanks! :D

said: Dec 3, 2005
 5 posts

For my Twinkle group class, I like to teach a very straightforward, simplified rendition of “Jingle Bells” (no dotted rhythms, etc.). The kids love it and jump up and down to be the first to try to figure out the next note! And of course the parents are happy for a new, festive tune.

First, I teach them the bowing of only the first line on the open A string. (”Short, short, SLOW; short, short, SLOW.”) I tell them we were learning the duet/harmony part first. :D Then I have them all turn around and listen while I play the melody note, having them find it.

We continue to proceed similarly, little bit by little bit, always with the “harmony/duet” part first (adding the 1st finger B for one note, in the correct spot—which helps them to be singing along in their minds). In the first time of introducing this, we got only through “jingle all the way,” putting together the harmony and melody lines simultaneously.

My Twinklers this year would not have been able to do something like this as quickly as this at the beginning of the year. It’s exciting to see how far they’ve come the past few months as we’ve worked on ear training, ensemble playing, rhythms, bow distribution, tone, and the like! Each of them also is now at least on Lightly Row as the working piece, so they’ve been progressing right along in their individual lessons, too. Such fun!

Thank you for starting this topic, Twinkle Rhythms. I, too, will look forward to others’ ideas!

“Beautiful tone, beautiful heart”
~Shinichi Suzuki

Rachel Schott said: Dec 3, 2005
Rachel SchottViolin
Harrogate, TN
127 posts

This year (hallelujah) I finally found and “easy” way to learn Jingle Bells, beginning with the hardest part first, and finishing with the ‘jingle bells jingle bells’ part everyone loves. This happens over a couple of weeks in lessons. Here goes:

  1. One horse open sleigh (the end)
  2. One horse open sleigh, hey!
  3. On a
  4. To ride
  5. Oh what fun it is
  6. Jingle all the way
  7. Jingle bells jingle bells (finally!)

Had much success this year at last when the sections were introduced in this order. Try it! :D

said: Dec 5, 2005
 103 posts

Thanks summer and femfiddler.

That’s an interesting way of teaching jingle bells femfiddler, I’ll have to try it out one time. I actually did teach my students Jingle bells this year, though the youngest just learned harmony notes for during the “dashing through the snow” part.

I did find that some of them struggled a bit with the two endings of the “jingle bells” part. They got it in the end though….

I would love to hear more christmas idea’s/games that you have played.

So far at our last group class before Christmas I have chosen a composer to introduce. Usually it’s a composer that applys to what they’ve been learning, or that played the same instrument.

Last year I told them about Mozart, this year I intoduced the composer of Jingle bells, and Oh Come, Little Children.

(Did you know that the composer of “Oh come little children” was 9 yrs older than Mozart?—I discovered this over this past week, quite interesting as I didn’t realize this music was so old!)

Anyway, I’d love to hear more christmas idea’s.

said: Dec 19, 2005
 26 posts

At the final group lesson for the year, I often bring out tinsel and baubles or other tree decorations, and we decorate our violins and bows. Elastic bands can be used quite effectively to tie the tinsel onto the bow at the tip and the frog, while two or three baubles, etc, hanging from the scroll looks great!

Just a bit of fun, but the kids really like it.

said: Nov 29, 2006
 103 posts

Wow! A whole year has gone by since I started this post! My last group class of 2006 (till after Christmas) will be this coming Monday.

I am planning on having the kids decorate their instuments etc. as you suggested last year Piper Kate. I haven’t looked at decorations in a store for ages and was amazed at all the different things that are out there!

Anyway, I got a few idea’s from another site that I visit for this year and thought I’d share them here. Also if any of you have more fun Christmas activities to share, that I could include in group, I’d be happy to hear them.

Idea from shannonspiano
You could play christmas carols and change one note and have the students tell you when they hear the worng note. Or write them down and sightread the music, then you would know if they are playing by ear or not when the wrong note appears.

Idea from lagin
Oh!! I just remembered a fun game that someone mentioned on here a while back. Divide the students (and parents can play, too) into 2 teams. Then select a “president” to keep order in each team. Then for example, team A. will say, I am going to play the melody of this Christmas carol now (the president makes sure each kid gets a turn to play a melody, but if you have young kids that aren’t that good at sight reading, the older ones can be in charge of playing the melody, or you can just do it for each team). Then team B decides (here is where the president keeps order!) whether they would like to hear 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 notes of it first before guessing. (Get the students to put up their hands to offer their guesses, and give maybe 3 guesses each team. The president can make sure nobody gets overlooked, or gets to guess all the time). If they pick 2 and get it right, they get say 5 points. If they want to hear 3 notes first, and get it within x amount of guesses, then their team gets 4 points, ect.

It’s a bit complicated, but the parents get to participate in the guessing, too, this way. Maybe 2 students and one parent can guess each time. Which ever team has the most points by the end wins. It’s a fun “ear training” exercise. It also reinforces intervals if they only pick 2 notes. A perfect 5th below is the first two notes of Noel, a perfect 4th above is the opening of O Christmas Tree, ect.

Ideas from Pianoannie
#1. Christmas Carol Teams
Before the party, think of 3 or 4 different Christmas carols or songs. Write each of the song names on several slips of paper, so that the total number of papers is equal to the number of students at the party, and so that each song is used approximately the same number of times. Put the papers into a bowl; each student draws one. When the teacher says “Go,” the students begin humming their Christmas carol, and they try to find the rest of the students with the same song. When a student hears someone else humming his song, those two students link arms, and continue finding others with the same song. The team that gets organized together first wins. (You’ll have to know exactly how many kids have each song so that you’ll know when a team is complete).

#2. Christmas Card Toss
Each student takes a turn tossing 5 Christmas cards into a laundry basket, from a distance of about 6 feet. It’s harder than it sounds! Use cards of various sizes and shapes.

Add an educational element to this, by writing several music theory questions (various levels of difficulty) inside each card. Students could get, for example, 10 points for each card that goes in the basket, then an opportunity to earn 5 points for cards that missed, by correctly answering a question inside the card (the teacher should choose the question to make it appropriate to that student’s level and knowledge). Or, you could let the student pick which level question, from 1 through 5, with 1 easy but only worth 1 point, and 5 hardest, but worth 5 points. (You’d have to be sure you had plenty of questions written out, so students wouldn’t be given questions that had previously been answered).

#3.I made up this game just this morning as I was planning my students’ party. I’m having about 20 kids at my party (so I have 20 words on the list) but I think it would work with as few as 5 or 6 (in which case you would use only 5 or 6 of the words).

“Christmas With a Beat”
Students sit in a circle. Each child chooses or is assigned one Christmas word from the list below:
Bells, Star, Wreath, Lights, Tree, Sleigh (spoken as quarter notes)
Angels, Holly, Tinsel, Snowman, Shepherds, Fruitcake (2 eighth notes)
Ornament, Candy Cane, Bethlehem, Mistletoe, Pumpkin Pie (2 sixteenths & an eighth)
Wrapping Paper, Stocking Stuffer, Figgy Pudding, Merry Christmas, decorations
(4 sixteenth notes)

Have the words written on a dry erase board or poster board, so the group can practice clapping and saying each word (one right after another) in the correct rhythm.

Then, demonstrate for the group how to keep a moderate 4/4 beat with the following actions:
1. tap hands on thighs
2. clap hands
3. snap fingers on left hand
4. snap fingers on right hand
Let the group practice this several times. Then have one child name his own Christmas word on beat 3 (when left hand snaps) and someone else’s word on beat 4 (when right hand snaps).
The student with that word says it on beat 3, and another word on beat 4. The actions and naming Christmas words continues. If anyone makes a mistake, (gets tongue tied or messes up the rhythm) they perform their Christmas song, then sit out of the game, and their word will not be used in the game anymore.

Anyway, I thought these were fun and could be used or adapted. Once again, I’d love to hear some more idea’s from you. :)

Kelly Williamson said: Dec 8, 2006
Kelly WilliamsonTeacher Trainer
Institute Director
Suzuki Association Member
Flute, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Cambridge, ON
304 posts

Noelle Perrin, a Suzuki flute teacher from New Jersey, has done some fabulous arrangements of Christmas carols and Hanukkah songs in combination with some of the first six pieces in book 1. They go over really well in performance, and the kids have fun playing them.


Jennifer Visick said: Dec 10, 2006
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
1069 posts

I assume that’s the first six flute pieces. Since I’m not familiar with that repertoire, what are those pices?

Kelly Williamson said: Dec 11, 2006
Kelly WilliamsonTeacher Trainer
Institute Director
Suzuki Association Member
Flute, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Cambridge, ON
304 posts

Mary Had a Little Lamb, Fireflies, Lightly Row, Twinkle… I think that’s it. She’s also done great non-Christmas arrangements with Honeybee and Hot Cross Buns, combining them with other themes and including more advanced parts for older players.

I didn’t bother to mention the pieces because it’s so instrument-specific—things that flute students can do at a certain stage are not necessarily the same things violin students can do at the same stage, and vice-versa. So brand-new arrangements for other instruments would probably have to be made keeping that in mind; I don’t think you could just transpose her arrangements to the appropriate key for young violinists, cellists, etc.

(One of my violinist colleagues commented the other day on the order of the Bach minuets, and the fact that they are in a different order in the flute book. She assumed that this was an error or omission when the books were put together, and that they should have been in the same order as in the violin books. In fact, the technical development is simply not the same, and the order is different for that reason. *Actually, I should say that I don’t know the reasons for the order in the violin books, but there are good reasons for the order of these minuets in the flute books.)

Of course not all of the Suzuki instruments learn all of the pieces in the book 1 flute repertoire, either. Anyway, these being Noelle’s arrangements and not mine, I would not be the one to provide details.

I mentioned her arrangements here because it would never have occurred to me to do what she did! :) I think her work is just brilliant. Maybe someone else would like to put their skills to use, with that basic idea to start from—either that, or perhaps interested people could contact Noelle and see if she would like to help develop some similar materials for other instruments.


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