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Holiday Songs For The Viola

Music is always a memorable part of this time of year – from holiday concerts to carolers. The viola and the violist should not be overlooked! Here are 11 songs and one song book that provide a wealth of holiday sheet music for the violist.

Songs with Winter Themes 

When you aren’t sure if a holiday song is appropriate for a given setting, it’s impossible to go wrong with winter themed songs. They always add some joy and help remind us of the beauty of winter, when we get too grumbly about heavy slush and hair static. 

  • Winter Wonderland: This sheet music has both a solo and instrument part for viola, in range D5-Eb6. It has a moderate swing tempo and is suitable for advanced beginners and above. The cost is $2.99, unless you want to download the pdf, then it’s $4.99. 
  • The Most Wonderful Day of the Year: While from the popular Christmas show “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer,” it’s general enough to work for any wonderful day a person chooses. This version is in range C#3-E4 and has a lively tempo. This sheet music is from the same website, Musicnotes, as “Winter Wonderland,” and the pricing is the same.  

Popular Christmas Songs 

There’s no shortage of Christmas sheet music – even for the viola! You can find a treasure trove at Christmas Music Songs, including such classics as: 

The site also has more obscure Christmas songs, both of the religious and general holiday variety. The website has a small collection of tools, like a sleigh bell metronome and a transposition key if you decide to get a little band together to play. 

All the sheet music on this website is free and can be downloaded as a pdf. The site also provides lead sheets and the lyrics for all the songs, as well as play sheets for numerous instruments. So, if you don’t want to put together a Christmas band, you can easily put together a Christmas string quartet or duet. 

Popular Hanukkah Songs 

Hanukkah songs sheet music can be harder to come by, but it is out there. To get you started with a working list, here a some Hanukkah favorites: 

  • Sivivon: A popular Hanukkah song all about the dreidel, this arrangement is actually for a viola duet. This arrangement is also intended for beginners with some playing experience. If you are a beginner, it’s a great piece for you and friend to learn together and impress at a family get-together. It’s scored in E minor, but the website provides transposition options if you scroll farther down the page. 
  • Rock of Ages (Ma’oz Tzur): This is a heftier version (over four minutes long) than many of the beginner scores listed here, which tend to last under two minutes. That means it’s either a good challenge or should be left to intermediate violists. Price is $4.50. 
  • Oh Chanukah: This is a high tempo song that kids love, but is an arrangement suited for the intermediate violist. The range is B4-B5, and the sheet music can be downloaded for free. 

Classical works that fit the season 

Here are some good options if you want to show off your chops, as well as add the seasonal cheer. 

  • Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy: Who doesn’t love The Nutcracker? This is a short, simple arrangement, which is great for the beginning violist. The range is D4-F5. This sheet music is also part of the “Musicnotes Edition” collection, which means that when you buy this sheet music, you’re also buying the rights to perform it in public, record the performance, and make as many copies as you’d like. If you’re a teacher who doesn’t want to think about copyright issues, this is a great choice for you. 
  • Quem Pastores Laudavere (Shepherds left their flocks a-straying): Really impress with this 14th century choral arrangement traditionally played at the new year. This arrangement is intended for beginners with some experience. While you can hear a recording of this arrangement on the site where you download the sheet music, here’s a full choral performance of it: 
  • Vivaldi’s “Winter” from The Four Seasons: This free sheet music provides all four movements to Vivaldi’s masterpiece, but you can download each separately. 

And lastly: One mix-and-match songbook 

If you want to simplify things and cover all your bases, check out Jingle Bells, Dreidels, and a Happy New Year for Two Violas song book. It’s 93 pages of viola sheet music that cover every fall and winter occasion, including songs for Thanksgiving and Halloween. Arrangements are for early intermediate viola. Cost is $12.99. 

If you feel like these choices aren’t enough, here are some more contemporary options for you to consider.

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