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Great String Music for Holiday Parades

Parades are a staple of the holiday season and the right music selections make all the difference for both participants and the side-liners who've come to watch.

Fortunately, some of this season's classic, instrumental music is arranged for developing strings players and orchestras alike . The pieces recommended below are ideal for music educators looking for holiday-themed scores that are equal parts inspiring, practical and easy-to-learn with a little bit of practice.

7 Holiday Favorites Ideal for Strings Students in Holiday Parades

First of all, we recommend reading, Friday Night Lights: What to Do With Your Strings Players in a Marching Band, since the tips included there can be adapted to facilitate the students' comfort and play-ability while walking (or sitting on a flatbed trailer, pulled by a parent's truck...)

1) Rock the Halls (A Winter Celebration) Arr. Kathryn Griesinger

This song has everything you're looking for in terms of an upbeat tempo - perfect for the parade route - as well as a medley of holiday favorites, including Rock the Halls includes Deck the Hall, Hark, the Herald Angels Sing, and Ding, Dong, Merrily On High - all of which students and parade attendees associate with the season.

2) Rest Ye Merry, Rock Ye Very, Arr. Brian Balmages

Have a more advanced group of students? The dramatic and rhythmic arrangement of Rest Ye Merry, Rock Ye Very will be a favorite. If you enjoy the Trans-Siberian orchestra, you'll appreciate Brian Balmage's arrangement of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman." It is paced perfectly for a parade route and can be further enhanced if your flag team, cheerleaders or other parade performers choreograph a routine to go along with it.

3) Fantasy on "Oh Chanukah," arr. Lauren Bernofsky

It's important to have variety and diversity in any holiday parade, which is why we've included Lauren Bernofsky's arrangement of "Chanukah, Oh Chanukah". Her version, Fantasy on "Oh Chanukah," works well on parade routes and the minor chords can be a nice break from the typical feel of most traditional holiday tunes.

Students and listeners will appreciate Bernofsky's addition of a fugue spun from motives in the melody. Best of all, from a teacher and students' perspective, is that while each of the individual parts are quite simple, they come together to create an impressive, symphonic whole.

4) Ding, Dong Merrily on High, arr. Carrie Lane Gruselle

The classic tune, Ding, Dong Merrily on High is a typical holiday carol that includes an unforgettable and sing-a-longable Gloo-ooo-ria chorus. When your students perform this arrangement by Carrie Lane Gruselle, it's easy to make the historical connection to the tune's original roots - a secular dance song. Perhaps this is what makes it so adaptable as a holiday parade installment.

This arrangement has multiple textural changes and several teaching opportunities, which will help students to perfect their playing technique, while simultaneously adding a new holiday favorite to their repertoire.

5) St. Nick's Canon on the Housetop, arr. Carrie Lane Gruselle

There are several things to appreciate about St. Nick's Canon on the Housetop, which combines the beloved holiday tunes, Up on the Housetop and Jolly Old Saint Nicholas - along with a clever insertion of a variation of Pachelbel's Canon in D. What a clever way for students to learn to blend contemporary and classical music styles.

The optional percussion section gives band and orchestra leaders a chance to expand the musician roster for this event if desired. Plus, the arrangement allows you to work with students on contrasting bowings and variations in style.

6) Ho Ho Hoedown, arr. David Shaffer

While the title doesn't scream "holiday season," the first few measures introduce a cheery and playful take on "Jingle Bells," arranged by David Shaffer with a sprinkling of western flair. Parallel fourths in the first measure are an instant giveaway that this holiday song is fit for a Hoedown.

The result is a tune that keeps the winter parade route moving and will encourage the audience to tap - or swing - around as the orchestra passes by.

7) Themes From the Nutcracker, arr. Carrie Lane Gruselle

Carrie Lane Gruselle is one of the most prolific arrangers of orchestral and string music for young students - and we've saved one of her best for last. The arrangement, Themes From the Nutcracker, introduces students to some Tchaikovsky's most famous - and favorite - iconic ballet movements.

In this arrangement, Gruselle includes sections from Waltz of the Flowers, March, Russian Dance and Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Make no mistake, these pieces provide a workout for developing musicians, so it's not the best option for beginners. However, you have the option to include one, several or all of the pieces, depending on students' progress.

Each of these holiday favorites are ideal for parades and offer students an opportunity to further their musical exposure and technique.

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