Monday, November 10, 2014

Christmas Music for Suzuki Violin and Viola Students

It's the holiday season, and that means that it's time for my violin and viola students to start learning Christmas music! I find it's best for students to start learning it fairly early, so that they have a chance to master it before the holidays. Here's a list of some of the Holiday sheet music I use, in order of difficulty (approximately). I don't yet have a good collection of Chanukah songs for violin, so if anyone knows of one, please let me know in the comments!

1. Fiddle Time Christmas

This is a great book for beginning violin students. It has several pieces, including "Jingle Bells," in the key of A (and on only A and E strings), which is perfect for my beginning violin students. There are thirty two different carols, from well-known and popular songs to a few obscure, but still beautiful carols.
Christmas Kaleidoscope is a small ensemble book, mainly trios. It has versions for violin, viola, and cello, and the parts are interchangeable. I've had good success using this for families or small groups of students. It has all the traditional carols, in easy to play arrangements. Most of the pieces are in the keys of A, D, or G.
This book is a bit more challenging than the other two. It contains many beautiful traditional Christmas carols arranged for violin and piano. All the pieces are still in first position, but several of them are in more challenging keys, including C and F, and they have more accidentals than the pieces in the other two books. This is a great book for students who are towards the second half of Suzuki Book I, or in Book II.

4. My Very Best Christmas

This book is a bit more challenging than the Christmas Time book--although many of the songs overlap, the arrangements are more challenging here. It has editions for violin, viola, and cello, and it comes with a piano part, a duet part, and a play-along CD. I liked it because it had so many options. I love playing duets with my students, and the play along CD is great for kids who enjoy using CDs at home.
This book is pretty challenging. Many of the songs are in the key of C, which is difficult for beginning violin students, and at least one song goes into third position. Still, it has some fun music that is great for more advanced students, including "Frosty the Snowman," "Silver Bells," and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." I'd recommend this book for students in Suzuki Book II or later, or who can at least play one of the Bach Minuets in Book I. 

I'm certainly interested in learning about music for other holidays, such as Chanukah or New Year's Day, so if anyone has any recommendations, please let me know in the comments.


  1. You're welcome! My students love playing Christmas music, and I'm sure many other violin students will like it too.