10 More Top Holiday Songs for the Violin
Last year, we put together a list of Top 10 Holiday for the Violin, but those are just the tip of the holiday song iceberg. Performing violinists make their way through these songs pretty quickly while busking on a street corner or at a fireside holiday gathering.
Fortunately, we’ve compiled 10 more holiday songs to give your audiences more of the songs they love to hear this time of year.
More Holiday Classics For Violinists
We’re posting this in the midst of a pandemic, which has led to shelter-in-place restrictions and prevents typical volunteering opportunities that take place in assisted living, nursing, and retirement communities this time of year. We recommend reaching out to them just the same, offering to perform for residents via video. Check out 5 Steps for Having a Great Facebook Live Performance to share your gifts with others in a safe and socially distant way.
1. Here We Come A-Wassailing (Caroling)
As it sounds today, this classic holiday tune dates back to the mid-1800s, but musical historians believe this song’s roots reach back much further than that. Getting together to share hot wassail (a hot, cider-like drink containing cider, ale, mead and spices) in the lord’s manner was a New Year’s tradition in pre-Christian Britain. Either way, audience members will recognize and enjoy this rendition of “Here We Come A-Wassailing,” which always gets people singing and swaying along.
2. Santa Baby
This jazzy tune was written by Joan Javits and Philip Springer back in 1953. It was an immediate hit and wound up becoming a holiday jazz and big band standard. Today, “Santa Baby” is performed by almost any professional musician who records a holiday album.
3. Deck the Hall
“Deck the Hall,” is a versatile piece. It can be played carol style or with a more classical sound with an ensemble. If you belong to an ensemble, try this version written for a strings quartet.
4. Oh, Hanukkah!
Here's music sure to delight Jewish friends and family. “Oh, Hanukkah,” is a traditional seasonal song. This version includes piano accompaniment if there is a pianist in the group, but you’ll still sound terrific without one.
5. The Dreidel Song (duet)
“The Dreidel Song” is another traditional Hanukkah favorite. It describes the creation of the four-sided spinning top that is used to play the traditional game of dreidel during the Festival of Lights. This one is a violin duet — an opportunity for two of you to combine your talents together.
6. Ma’oz Tzur (Rock of Ages)
This traditional Hebrew song dates back to the 13th century, and was historically only sung in the home. However, beginning in the 19th century “Ma’oz Tzur (Rock of Ages)” was assimilated into synagogue music programs as well.
7. O Holy Night
When “O Holy Night” is played well with emotional expression, it brings tears to one’s eyes. The images the piece provokes are so tender. As an example, watch this YouTube video of Joshua Bell, featuring vocalist, Kristin Chenoweth. Read more about Joshua Bell and his journey as a classical violinist and composer.
8. Handel’s Messiah Medley
We’re huge fans of this “Messiah Medley,” arranged by R.K. Deverich. It’s best suited to intermediate string players or beginners who are ready to challenge themselves and work on an intermediate piece. It combines three of Handel’s fans’ favorites: “For Unto Us a Child is Born,” “Pastoral Symphony,” and, of course, the ever-famous, “Hallelujah Chorus.”
9. It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas
As with “Santa Baby,” the score for “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" was written by Meredith Wilson in the post-war era (1951). While it was an immediate favorite, Perry Como is the vocalist that put it on the holiday charts.
10. Auld Lang Syne
“Auld Lang Syne,” is a traditional Scottish tune. It’s ideal for any violinist who wants to bridge into fiddle or folk-style playing. Most commonly attributed to Scottish poet, Robert Burns, the truth is it was an ancient song that Burns wrote down to preserve. He sent it to the Scots Musical Museum, noting that he was simply the first person to officially document it in paper form. You can keep its history alive each time you play for your audience.
Enjoy practicing and adding 10 more top holiday songs for the violin to your repertoire!