I was chatting with a busy mum this week who works two jobs from 7:30am to 6pm. We asked each other what we were doing for the holidays. She said she just wanted to be at home with her family and enjoy her children. So many folks are exhausted at this time of year and just need to chill and have a rest! (Actual chilling is a bit tricky in our part of the world as we hit Summer, and in our little township fire restrictions are now in place. But for some of you reading this it probably is a bit more chilly as you look forward to a winter Christmas.)
Whatever the hemisphere, ‘chilling’ involves rest. How are you going to rest this season? Maybe you will spend some quality time with your family, catch up with old friends, or find some time and space to sit with a good book.
As the Christmas season gets under way I’ve been listening to a playlist of Christmas songs that I particularly like. Included there are delightful arrangements by Pentatonix, a very talented acapella group you have probably heard on the radio or over music speakers at the mall. Their harmonies and skillfully constructed layering are well worth a closer listening to though, and with YouTube clips like the following you can also see how the singers bring their parts in too.
There is so much delightful Christmas music out there which I enjoy as I look forward to a change in pace. I’ve also had fun arranging some very simple versions of carols at the request of some of my piano pupils. Mostly they are just the melody, or together with a simple second part.
I thought I’d like share with you God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen—one of the arrangements I did this week. It is at about a grade 1 level. I like to use chromatic harmonies. You can see this in 2 places in this arrangement, with the left hand descending passage in the first 2 lines and then just a touch in bar 14 in the left hand again.
If you consider yourself a beginner pianist, here are a few tips to help you.
- The key is D minor, so remember to play all B’s as B flats.
- Notice the fingering and keep it the same every time you play it. If you make sure your right hand 3rd finger is always on the F’s, the fingering for the whole melody works quite nicely. This is because the melody is completely built on the natural D minor scale.
- Go slowly—this song can sound beautiful at any speed.
- Practice the hands separately 1 line at a time before putting the hands together.
- If you find playing hands together too hard, just work out the melody in the treble only.
I’d love to know how you get on—just a quick sentence in the comments below. Thanks.
However you spend your build up to Christmas, I do hope you can take some time to rest a while enjoying some merry music.
May God bless your family at Christmas and in the coming New Year.