Playing classic, holiday favorites on your cello warms the hearts of your audience members. However, it’s also fun to add new and current holiday-themed songs to your playlist.
To that end, we’ve assembled this 2019 UPDATE, combining some of Connolly Music’s favorite holiday songs for the cello, as well as brand new hits straight from the Billboard.com charts.
Tried-and-True Holiday Standbys
First, we’ll start with our pick of tried-and-true holiday standbys, organized by playing level.
For beginning cello students
The first place to start for sheet music for Christmas songs is Christmas Music Songs. You will find a healthy handful of carol sheet music explicitly written for the cello. Just a few options in the selection are:
These are all simple arrangements, which makes them perfect for beginner cellists. There’s enough variety of songs here that any beginner could easily learn a few tunes in time to give the family a short Christmas concert.
Another good option for beginners is this Special Occasions Celebrations songbook, which contains simple cello arrangements for nearly every holiday of the year. Two of the options for this season are You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch, and I Have a Little Dreidel. The book is $11.99 and is delivered as a hard copy.
If you want to get classical, here’s a beginner-plus arrangement of Mendelssohn’s Hark the Herald Angels Sing (Free. Range A3-B4).
For intermediate and more advanced cellists
More experienced beginners looking for a challenge can check out these solo cello arrangements:
- The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) ($2.99), moderate tempo in cello range C#4-D4.
- The Night Before Christmas ($2.99), high tempo in cello range C#4-D4.
- Happy Hanukkah, My Friend ($2.99), moderate temp in cello range D3-D4.
- Sinfonia from Christmas Oratorio by Bach ($2.99), moderately slow tempo. Includes both solo arrangements and instrumental parts for various instruments, including cello.
- The Nutcracker Medley ($6.99), is exactly as it’s titled: A medley of songs from that Christmas favorite by Tchaikovsky, The Nutcracker. Going to see The Nutcracker is a holiday tradition, regardless of what holiday you celebrate. This medley is eight pages of sheet music that intermediate level cellists can learn for their version of the family holiday concert.
All these scores are on the Musicnotes website where you can buy the hard copy or add $2 to the cost to download the arrangement immediately as a pdf file. Some of these arrangements are “Musicnotes Editions,” which means that when you purchase the sheet music, you’re also buying the right to perform and record this arrangement, as well as print out multiple copies. If you’re a teacher looking for sheet music, buying a Musicnotes Edition arrangement will solve a host of copyright challenges for you.
Mix it up with some of the latest hits
Most young adults find it annoying to play the classics over and over, which is why we mixed it up a bit by sharing some of this year’s predicted holiday hits.
Christmas in the City (Lea Michele) Free. If you’re a fellow Glee addict, you’ll appreciate Lea Michele (who plays Rachel Berry) released a Christmas album, “Christmas in the City.” This is Michele’s first solo album, although she’s been featured on multiple Glee holiday albums in the past. As billboard.com put it, “Her first solo holiday LP would do Rachel Berry proud.”
Bring Me Love (John Legend) $10. Currently playing with a music group? Then you’ll love this tunescribers.com download of John Legend’s Bring Me Love, featuring piano, drums, vocals, and bass. Advanced cellists will have no problem transposing the music for their instrument.
Last Christmas (Wham!) $3. I think we can all agree that George Michael and Wham! produced timeless music. This holiday season, Michael’s song, Last Christmas (released in the 80s), and other Wham! favorites are predicted to be re-hits. They’re featured on the soundtrack to a newly released holiday film - with the same title - starring Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding.
Amarga Navidad (Los Lobos, scored by José Alfredo Jiménez) $3. Los Lobos fans are thrilled with the band’s first holiday album release ever. Llegó Navidad is the name of Los Lobos’s album, and Amarga Navidad, is a beautiful song written in the traditional Ranchera style of Mexico. Learning this song allows you to infuse your cello style with some beautiful cultural flavor and appeal to a wider audience base.
Happy holidays to you and your family. Learning and playing these songs for friends and loved ones will add extra doses of holiday cheer to the mix.