Tag Archives: celebrations

Flute Time Christmas

A Sleighful of Playalong Christmas Flute Music

What could be nicer at Christmas than to listen to younger players captivate a family audience with festive tunes. Whilst it would be lovely to have on hand either a resident pianist or a big band, a backing track will fill the gap and take up a lot less room! There are many exciting playalong flute books on the market, so be prepared to have a lot of fun!

Christmas Classics [Flute] Includes accompaniment CDChristmas Classics (part of the Schott Flute Lounge series) is a good place to start. A great mix of carols and songs comes with all the words, guitar chords, and a full piano accompaniment. The arrangements work well and the CD has both performances on the flute and backing tracks only. There is even some background info on each of the pieces. Everyone can join in with this book – it’s a real Christmas star!

Fun Club Christmas Flute Includes accompaniment CDChristmas Fun Club Flute can enable players who started in September to play some great festive music. The range of notes and keys used makes all the pieces very accessible for younger players and the inclusion of an easy piano part and the words again means that there are many options for performance.

Flute Time ChristmasAnother book for younger players is Flute Time Christmas – a stockingful of 32 easy pieces for flute. Anyone who has used Abracadabra will feel at home immediately as it uses the same popular approach. Carols are mixed with Christmas songs, and words and guitar chords are included too. Some of the arrangements are for two flutes which could also be useful. The cover on this book is very festive and the drawings inside are lovely so it’s good present material as well. The piano accompaniment is available in a separate volume.

Christmas Razzamajazz Flute Includes accompaniment CDIf you like your music spiced up a little then try Christmas Razzamajazz. Sarah Watts has given ten Christmas classics a twist with some feel-good jazzy accompaniments whilst keeping the flute parts simple. The titles are great – Distant Sleighs lends a sparkling feel to Jingle Bells and Three Swingin’ Ships is self-explanatory! Six of the pieces have an optional second flute part and one can be played by a trio. The piano parts can be a little tricky though so the CD might just come in handy after lunch!

You Take Centre Stage Christmas [Flute] Includes accompaniment CDs x2You Take Centre Stage Christmas gives a more contemporary slant to your repertoire. Traditional carols sit together with music by the likes of John Lennon, Chris de Burgh, Elvis and Mariah Carey and features versions of Slade’s Merry Xmas Everybody and Walking in the Air from The Snowman. This book comes with two play-along CDs, and although it is a small step up in difficulty, many of the numbers are quite straightforward.

Any of these books are guaranteed to make your Christmas more festive and enjoyable and provide you with a great deal of entertainment!

Browse more flute playalong Christmas music on justflutes.com

The Wedding Flutist

Building A Flute Library: Music for Weddings

Spring has sprung and the temperature is rising, so it won’t be long before someone asks you to play at their wedding. There is an astonishing amount of repertoire suitable for both the church and the reception, so depending on your forces the choice is yours. Books of arrangements are really handy in this situation – you never know what might happen on The Big Day!

The most obvious combination is for flute and organ, and Sacred Solos Volume 1 arranged by Gilliam and MacCaskill will provide you with plenty of choice. Contents include Bach’s Sheep May Safely Graze, Pachelbel’s Canon and the Meditation from Thais so you should be covered for all eventualities. The accompaniments work equally well for piano, and there is the added bonus of a CD that could be used to help the couple decide what music they might like.

Wedding Music for Flute and HarpWedding Music for Flute and Harp is for you if you are a part of that classic wedding combination. Compiled by Meinir Heulyn and Katey Thomas, who have a great deal of hands on experience in this genre, the books include performance directions and advice on when you might play each piece. This is really useful again if the couple are uncertain as to exactly what music would be suitable for their occasion. As well as the usual repertoire they have included the Intermezzo from Cavalieri Rusticana, Dance of the Blessed Spirits and the Pearl Fisher’s Duet, so again there is plenty of choice.

The Wedding FlutistIf you’re playing by yourself, look no further than Ricky Lombardo’s The Wedding Flutist, where he conveniently divides the repertoire up into Preludes, including Elgar Salut d’Amour and MacDowell To a Wild Rose, Processionals (Pachelbel Canon, Wagner Bridal Chorus (Lohengrin) and Clarke Trumpet Voluntary), Ceremony (Bach Air from Suite in D and Gounod Ave Maria) and Recessionals where you can play them out to Beethoven’s Ode to Joy or Mendelssohn’s Wedding March. Lombardo is a really good arranger and these pieces all work, given the scale of the reduction.

Sacred Duet CollectionLombardo also has another good book to offer you – Sacred Duet Collection is ideal for 2 flutes. Not everything here is suitable for the wedding but All Glory, Laud and Honour and Holy, Holy, Holy will add a suitably stately feel to your contribution. For the reception you might like to try Double Act by Marian Hellen. Subitlted ‘Popular Melodies’, there’s everthing here from Blow the Wind Southerly to Rule Britannia. This is very straightforward music, so there is plenty of scope for improvisation and repeats. You could also try them as written with a glass or two of champagne!

Single pieces that might work well at the reception if you have more than just 2 flutes would be the inevitable My Heart Will Go On in the excellent version for flute trio by Eric Hovi and Jamaica Sunrise for 4 flutes by Kate Cuzner. This will really add some sunshine on a rainy day with its lilting Caribbean rhythms and catchy melody. 8 flutes could play Jubilate Deo by Giovanni Gabrielli at the church where the antiphonal writing would be very effective.

If you are lucky enough to have a flute quartet at your disposal, Bill Holcombe is your man once you have finished playing Mozart Quartets. Music for Weddings has 2 volumes (Vol 1, Vol 2)and includes Ich Liebe Dich by Greig and Oh Perfect Love by Barnby as well as the usual mix of Bach, Handel and Mendelssohn. He has also arranged similar combinations of pieces for flute choir, wind trio and wind quintet, all of which will complement any standard music that you might have chosen.

Playing at weddings can be great fun as long as you are prepared, so sort out your music, don your wedding finery and get ready to party!

Hidden Gems: Christmas Music for Flute Choir

There is now so much choice of Christmas music available for flute choirs that it’s difficult to know where to start. In this post I’ve selected some of my favourites which I can really recommend.

Carol settings abound and the choice can be alarming. The best policy is to pick your carol, and then stick to those arrangers that are proven or whose pieces you have previously enjoyed. My personal favourites are Amy Rice Young, Ann Cameron Pearce and Ricky Lombardo, and all of them have contributed music to which you can return year after year.

In The Bleak MidwinterFor example, the Pearce version of ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’ atmospherically shares the tune, accompaniment and descant evenly between the parts and uses the lower instruments to great effect. This is also true of her arrangement of the ‘Wexford’ carol.

‘Wassailing’ by Rice-Young has dances from Somerset and Gloucestershire as well as the traditional one from Yorkshire – this is a simple arrangement, even if it is in A major. Her ‘First Nowell’ (sic) is bright and breezy as is the pairing of ‘Good King Wenceslas’ and ‘Sing We Now of Christmas’.

Lombardo’s ‘Trilogy of Carols’ utilises the versatile expandable format. It only takes four players to perform this, but there are actually 8 parts, including alto and bass flute options plus parts for string bass and percussion.

You might also like to investigate the ‘Peace Collection’ by Paul Horn. The textures here are simpler, making them ideal for the less experienced group. I particularly like the ‘Carol of the Bells’ from Volume 3 for the way in which it builds and subsides – most effective.

Foreign carols can often provide a good programme contrast. Take the ‘French Nativity Suite’, 3 carols set by Kelly Via. ‘Il est Ne’ is well-known and surprisingly has some swing-rhythm in the accompaniment, but the less familiar 14th century carol from Provence ‘Bring a Torch, Jeanette Isabella’ is handled simply. Pat-A-Pan is more of a challenge – upbeat with a 5/8 central section and complex ensemble writing which is as enjoyable to play as it is to listen to. Meanwhile, the ‘Scandinavian Suites’, again put together sensitively by Rice-Young are just lovely tunes which completely illustrate the countries from which they originate. ‘Two Preludes for December’ by Claudia Bissett will also delight audiences. Scheidt and Praetorius provide the music here and she arranges for double flute choir skilfully.

Sample Music from Two Preludes for December

You could take the humorous option. Merging Christmas songs with traditional carols is a favoured route with surprisingly good results! ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’ (Rice-Young again!), punctuates the main theme with carol snippets. Great fun could be had here with some audience participation. Darlene Dugan’s ‘A Patchwork Christmas’ stitches together various carols to give us ‘Noel in a Manger’, O Song of Joy (Jesu, Joy and O Tannebaum) and ‘Joy on Deck’. On a slightly different tack, Lombardo’s ‘Santa’s Symphony’ (again in the expandable format) combines carols with popular classics. Watch out for Eine Kleine, 1812 Overture, The Nutcracker and even some Brahms! This is such fun and perfect for most Christmas occasions – a real winner. Jingle Bell Prism, another gem from Ann Cameron Pearce, is a classic. Here she gives this song the real treatment – 7 different styles from a 16th century Venetian Madrigal to Boogie-Woogie and Beach Rock. It works
perfectly well with C flutes only but will take a bit of practice. Oh so worth it though!

And finally – what about a Christmas piece that is completely original? Kathleen Mayne’s ‘Christmas Overture’ tells the story of the Nativity. The beautiful opening melody in F minor sets the scene of the ‘Cold, Still Bethlehem Night’ before the music becomes more rhythmic for ‘The Visit from the Magi’. Playful music depicts ‘The Curious Stable Animals’ before the lilting ‘Mother Mary’s Lullaby’ builds to an eventual grandioso conclusion. Lasting 6 minutes this is a substantial piece that will reward the work needed to perform it well and enhance any Christmas concert.