Posted by StringOvation Team on Dec 20, 2019
W hile holiday classics are "classic" for a reason, it can be mind numbing to play the same songs over and over, year after year. We understand your frustration.
Thus, one of our holiday gifts to you is this list of 10 modern holiday songs made just for string musicians. Yes, they're arrangements based on traditional carols, but at least they'll give you a break from the typical versions you've played for years.
10 Fresh and Modern Holiday Songs for String Players Ready to Grow
The following 10 suggestions are based on classics but explore different moods and nuances, countermelodies, expanded key changes and other technical aspects that allow you to learn and grow as a musician.
Many are designed for individual string instruments, others for a string quartet, allowing more advanced students to shine along with other first-time string players.
All I Want For Christmas Is You, Mariah Carey (violin)
This modern holiday song is so popular that it's quickly become a classic. That being said, odds are you haven't been asked to play it for a middle school or high school holiday concert.
This simple piece of sheet music is ideal for beginners and offers opportunities for more advanced players to add your own embellishments and rhythmic magic.
14 Advanced Christmas Favorites, arr. Sean O'Loughlin (violin)
Here's a bonus book for you — it's 14 of the holiday favorites you've played a million times. But Sean O'Loughlin has done you the favor of arranging them for more advanced violinists. Hurray! You'll be surprised at how much you can appreciate all the songs you thought you were sick of — because these arrangements live up to your potential!
Where Are You Christmas?, Faith Hill (viola)
Faith Hill has taken both the country and the popular music scene by storm. Where are You Christmas is one of her holiday favorites, and a touching reminder that some holiday seasons aren't as cheerful as others, making us lonely amidst all the holiday festivities.
Miss You Most at Christmas Time, Mariah Carey (viola)
Miss You Most at Christmas Time is another young adult favorite that is fun to practice whether you're separated from your friends over the holiday break or getting together for some much-needed jam time.
Holidays Extraordinaire! Cello, Deborah Baker Monday and Janice McAllister (Cello)
Chances are you've already played pieces from Monday and McAllister's ever-popular Strings Extraordinaire! This holiday-themed version contains some of the songs you already know — along with many others you don't. Best of all, it includes multiple pieces from other countries and cultures.
Holidays Extraordinaire! Bass, ditto above (Bass)
Because it's so good, we're recommending you bass players get a copy of the Holidays Extraordinaire! for bass. Bass players spend so much time providing a rhythmic, harmonic foundation for the majority of your strings life, this is a chance for you and your bass to show what solo stars you can be.
Hanukkah Suite (String Quartet)
This lively and moving suite of tradition Hanukkah melodies will charm and delight. This quartet arrangement presents stylistic variations ranging from Klezmer to Bach and Palestrina-inspired counterpoint. The four movements include: I. Yemei Ha'Chanukah (Hanukkah Oh Hanukkah), II. Moaz Tzur (Rock of Ages), III. Ner Li (I Have a Candle), and IV. S'vivon Sov Sov Sov (Dreidel, Spin Spin Spin) / Dreidel Song. This work is certain to be a highlight of any Winter Holiday concert.
Celebrate Christmas Arr. Nicholas Palmer (string quartet)
This is a bonus piece for strings players. Get three of your favorite "other strings players" together and Celebrate Christmas! Arranged for players ranging from levels 3 to 5, this collection also allows any level a chance to practice familiar pieces at the next, technical level. Celebrate Christmas! includes traditional holiday tunes as well as English carols.
We love that each part is active and dynamic, preventing you from the boredom of playing slow, low harmonies (are you with us cellos?).
Charlie Brown Christmas, Vince Guaraldi (guitar)
With this piano-play along score, you'll learn guitar solos and then sound like a superstar, playing along with the pre-recorded music. It's a great way to practice on your own, helping you to keep time remain in tune with the rest of your "band members."
There are eight songs total, including Christmas Is Coming, The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire), Christmas Time Is Here, Linus and Lucy, My Little Drum, O Tannenbaum, Skating and What Child Is This — all of which are played with a more contemporary feel than the traditional carol-style versions you're used to.
Christmas Music for Solo Guitar, Carl Gurney (guitar)
Whether you're a classical guitar player by nature, or a rock start at heart, Carl Gurney's Christmas Music for Solo Guitar offers beginning/intermediate guitar players a chance to move those fingers and improve picking techniques while working through beautifully arranged Christmas music — both traditional and contemporary.
Santa Baby, Springer & Javits (String Quartet)
This is a Moderate to easier advanced arrangement by Kenneth Abeling of the sultry Christmas time classic first popularized by Eartha Kitt.
Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree, Leann Rimes & Toby Keith (String Quartet)
This is a moderate level arrangement by Johnny Marks of this Christmas classic, that was first recorded by Brenda Lee and covered by numerous others. Promises to get your audience clapping along with glee.
Holiday Jazz for String Quartet, Arr. Jon Grier
Tired of playing the classical and traditional version of things? Then you'll appreciate Grier's jazzy arrangements for string quartets. Another opportunity to shine at a holiday concert or put an ensemble together and busk for extra holiday money.
Go spread some cheer and have a wonderful holiday!
This article sponsored by Thomastik-Infeld