December 17, 2006 at 7:26 AMRobert and I like to throw a holiday “Cookie Party” every year for the kids, our (mostly non-musician) friends and my students, with hundreds of cookies made by me along with lots of awesome food made by Robert.
Last year, the party turned into a kind of spontaneous sing-along, so this year we decided to make it official. We told everyone that we'd also be having a little holiday jam session, so bring your ax. Then everyone said, “Bring my ax?” and I said, “Just bring your instrument, or at least, I'm going to make you sing!”
So we had: violins, a viola, a cello, mandolin, several flutes, clarinet, guitars and a number of small pianists. My daughter played a quiet guitar rendition of “Up on the Housetop.” Robert even got out his viola! One of my smallest violin students played “Jingle Bells” on the piano. “I only know part of it,” she said, so the rest of us filled in for the more challenging “dashing through the snow” part. One of my students and her cello-playing sister brought a book of holiday trios and played from that. I played “Meditation from Thais,” while my good friend Trina, a professional cellist and Suzuki cello teacher, accompanied on a quarter-size cello, along with Carrie, another professional violinist who has been helping me teach this semester.
I played “Joy to the World” as a piano duet with my son (as a pianist, I'm a great violinist...), and one of my daughter's friends played “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” on the piano, with her dad accompanying her on guitar. Several little girls played Mozart minuets on the piano, and another played “Jingle Bells” on the flute. Another girl brought her clarinet, but ended up playing a carol on the piano.
It's the first year we've tried this idea of having everyone bring their instruments, but I think I like it! It allows everyone to play in a setting that's not a classroom and not a formal performance. It's at least part of what our instruments are for, yes? Making merry!
I'm guessing my invitation went astray in the mail. :)
However, as Pauline said, this is as good a time as any to wish you and Robert and your family a very merry Christmas. Thank you both for providing this space for our silliness.
We did a similar thing on a smaller scale last weekend; I started playing Christmas carols on the piano, my husband took out an octave of handbells he was storing for his church handbell choir, we gave 3-year-old Kiera a chime to play, and 1-year-old Kyla played the drum. Yay for family bands! Maybe next year we'll try inviting friends too. :)
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Violinist.com Editor Laurie Niles is in New York to cover the biennial event at The Juilliard School, including classes by Brian Lewis and Sarah Chang.
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