Music and the Holidays

The holiday season is coming up fast.  That means traveling, family, awesome food, and - your instrument?  Well, it can.  We tend to slow our practicing around the holidays in favor of other family activities.  But what if playing out instruments became part of family tradition?  I can almost guarantee it would be an instant success.

There are several ways you can include music into the holiday season.  The quickest, easiest, and most personal would be to perform a miniature recital in the living room for your visiting family members.  Or, if you're driving to Grandma's house, bring your instrument along.  You'd be surprised how much your grandparents would enjoy it.  Did you know that before the days of television and radio, the members of the household (including the children) would entertain their guests with music and storytelling?  For generations, evenings at home were enlivened by the sounds of families and friends making music together.  Do be careful about letting relatives handle your instrument, though.  With the amount that mom and dad have paid for your instrument, it's OK to say "no" when your 6-year-old cousin asks to play it.

Some families have a tradition of doing some sort of community service around the holidays.  This can be another great opportunity to use the skills you've been learning all year.  Nursing home residents in particular love to see and hear children and teens play music, and maybe watching you play "Frosty the Snowman" will brighten an otherwise lonely day.  Many hospitals schedule a day for volunteers to come and play music for patients or in the lobby for visitors.  Play your favorites.  Pick a holiday song that most people would know and invite them to sing as you play.  All over the world, people gather and sing around major holidays; including your audience could make an enormous difference in their holiday season.  You just never know.

A note about practicing: I know that you won't practice every day for a half-hour while you're on vacation.  But, you don't want to put down your instrument for a few weeks and then come back to school, lessons, and ensembles completely out of shape.  Find a little bit of time to practice here and there, enough to keep your embouchure in shape.  And make it fun - play a couple scales every now and then, but play songs that you enjoy and would enjoy sharing with others. 

I hope all of you have a safe, warm, and happy holiday season.  Joy and blessings to you all!