It’s that time of year again – when the fireplace crackles as you sip your skinny peppermint mocha under a fleece blanket and watch It’s a Wonderful Life for the umpteenth time. The air is filled with magic (unless you’re a bah humbug) and a slight chill to the air. For musicians, why not add some holiday cheer to your practice routine? These exercises are great for younger students (or children at heart) to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year.
- “Joy to the World” scales – Has you ever noticed that “Joy to the World” is just a descending major scale? To get a proper warm-up, play this tune in every key signature. I start on high F (for clarinetists) and go through this song in all octaves by descending chromatic key signature (F, E, Eb, D, etc.)
- “Carol of the Bells” articulation exercise – Play this catchy tune in several different articulation styles and patterns – legato, staccato, slurred, marcato, etc. – making sure that all notes are symmetrical. You can add articulation patterns too (slur two, tongue two; tongue three, slur one; etc. Get creative!)
- “O, Christmas Tree” dynamic studies – Repeat this song in all dynamics
- “Jingle Bells” transposition studies – Transpose this into various key signatures either by wrote or mentally
- “Greensleeves” interval practice – Have your student (or yourself) name every interval in this melody
The most difficult part about these warm-ups is not getting the songs stuck in your head! Have fun spreading the holiday cheer through music!