December is here, the days are getting shorter and colder (for those of us in the northern hemisphere), and holiday music is filling the air. Are you wondering how to take advantage of the holidays to further your ear training? Or are you a music teacher or parent looking for fun Holiday themed music activities for children? Look no further, we have collected 11 of the best holiday-themed ear training and music theory resources.
These aren’t only a bit of holiday fun – for example, did you know that jazz musician and ear training educator Julian Bradley got his start in ear training playing Christmas carols by ear? So don’t underestimate it – this is a great time of year for training your ears!
Note: Some of the resources below are paid premium resources, marked *
Are you feeling suitably festive? Then let’s get started…
1. Unravelling Music – March of the Candy Cane Soldiers
An easy and fun way to get started with Christmas ear training is with our very own free Unravelling Music track “March of the Candy Cane Soldiers”. This downloadable track is accompanied by explanatory MP3s and liner notes to help you understand what you are hearing. Soon you’ll be able to identify key changes, chord progressions, the circle of fifths and more. Don’t worry: no previous music theory knowledge is required!
2. EarTrainingAndImprov.com – Christmas Music Theory Worksheets
EarTrainingAndImprov.com have a collection of free worksheets for children to make music theory and ear training more festive. To name a few – “Sledding Race – Identifying Musical Intervals”, “The 12 Days of Christmas Piano Practice” and “Santa got Stuck in the Chimney – Music Composition Activity”.
3. Finale – Free Holiday Music
Finale, one of the top music notation editors, are giving out a collection of free holiday sheet music for their users! Just sign up for a free trial of Finale to enjoy these creative festive scores.
4. MelodyCollege.com – Christmas Tunes for Scale and Ear Training
Check out this short tutorial from MelodyCollege.com which teaches you how to play “The First Nowell” Christmas carol by ear in any key, and to use this song to make practicing your scales more fun!
5. EasyEarTraining.com – “Share our Holiday Ch-Ear”
While wrapping presents, at a holiday party or listening to carollers, there’s always opportunities for ear training. Our article “Share our Holiday Ch-ear” has some great suggestions on how to incorporate ear training into everyday life this holiday season – including a list of festive interval references songs.
6. Amber Staffa Piano – “All I Want for Christmas is Ear Training”*
Piano teacher Amber Staffa has an “All I Want for Christmas is Ear Training” workbook, ideal for use by music classroom teachers and instrument teachers. It includes 6 holiday songs which are missing notes at random points, and the students needs to use their ear to work out what note is missing.
There is also a follow-on workbook about composing: “Christmas gets a Makeover”. This is to help take the fear out of composing. The idea is that the rhythm of the Christmas song is kept the same, but the composer changes all the notes for new ones!
7. FPSResources.com – Christmas Around the World*
FPS Resources have a ready-made 4-hour lesson plan on the theme of “Christmas around the World” including lots of music based activities to teach children about holiday traditions in different countries – including, Israel, Sweden, Mexico and Japan. FPS use this to run a Christmas Holiday Camp, but each of the activities can be used at anytime with a group of keen students.
8. LetsPlayKidsMusic.com – Advent and Christmas Lesson Plans*
LetsPlayKidsMusic.com have pre-prepared Advent and Christmas lesson plans for 2-7 year olds, including activities such as; “Learning Solfege with chime bars or resonator bells” and “Listening skills, remembering patterns and echoing rhythms”.
9. Music with Sarah Bibee – Christmas Music Worksheets Mega Pack*
10. Compose Create – Holiday Music*
ComposeCreate.com have a collection of the all-time favourite holiday tunes sheet music for piano. There are scores for elementary, intermediate and advanced pianists, so everyone can get involved. They also have a package of holiday-themed rhythm cup activities – perfect for music teachers to teach rhythm to a group of children!
11. Fun Music Company – Christmas Teaching Ideas Pack*
Fun Music Company has made a pack teaching ideas for classroom music based on four famous holiday songs: Jingle Bells, Deck the Halls, Good King Wenceslas, and We Wish You a Merry Christmas. For each song there is are worksheet activities and an arrangement for the ukelele, recorder or both! Ideal for classroom music lessons or to do at home with your children.
I hope that has inspired some creative ways to continue your ear training practice through this festive period. Whether you are celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah or just some extra time off work to play your instrument, we wish you a happy and musical holiday!
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