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December, 2010:

Christmas Songs in the Guitar Class

The Christmas time is here and every guitar teacher know, that a lot of children every year wants to play their favorite Christmas Songs with the guitar.

To make this activity as successful as possible, I want to tell you some possibilities and reasons to play these songs with the kids.

First of all: even if you already get tired to practice „Jingle Bells and Co..“ you have to admit that these melodies are beautiful and easy to remember.
1.) Like other children and folk songs you can learn with them how our western music is working . That is because these songs have mostly an easy structure and using the most common musical language
2.) The most important things in these songs are the famous three chords: Tonic, Subdominant and Dominant. It is very important to learn listening this basic chords and changings.
3.) In these songs you can hear the changings of the chords very clear even if you have no experience .
4.) And because the children already mostly knows the melodies, they can pay more attention to things like : playing clean, playing by heart, playing with feeling and so on.

So I am using the Christmas Songs to let my students learn the basics of our western musictheorie. And because this musictheorie is like the grammar of western music, it helps so much to deepen the knowledge and the ear of the students.
– Let them learn the melodies by heart and
– transpose it in other tunes or octaves.
– Use easy grasp chords to accompany the melodie and
– let the students accompany by ear.
– Let them find the same melody, but in another barree…and so on.
– Explain what is a scale and let them improvise to the chords or find the „second melody“.

At the German School I have to teach big groups with young beginners. For the beginners who just have started in September I use a song with only three notes and another song with only two chords. I let the eight year old beginners play the three notes song in two different octaves. One is on the sixth string and on is on the first string. Of course they learn to read and write the notes they are playing. The other song I made with them, has two chords. I use G and D7 with only three strings, so that they already can sing and accompany this song even if their fingers are still not accustomed to play chords.

Why I tell you that? Because I know that a lot of guitar teachers are afraid of the Chritmas time where they always have to practice the same songs with their students. I think we teachers should take that more possitive!

And what I am writing about the Christmas Songs today, count for other Children and Folk Songs too and also for a lot of Pop Songs.