photo by Spinndoctor
Here are some tips for creating the perfect Christmas family sing-along.
Everybody knows and loves the old familiar Christmas carols, and all the more recent classics from Slade, Wham, John Lennon and the like. So no excuses!
You just need a bit of forward planning to make the whole thing run smoothly. Here’s how.
- provide song sheets – most people know half of the first verse of most carols, but then we dry up. Think ahead and print out some lyric sheets of some of the most popular Christmas songs. Don’t just choose your favourites, but select a wide range of different types.
- is there a pianist in the house? – if someone in your family plays an instrument, then make sure they have plenty of relevant sheet music available to accompany the singing. But don’t let the instrument take control – try a few acappella songs.
- anyone for karaoke? – if you don’t have an instrument to hand and feel the need for some backing, then get hold of a Christmas karaoke CD to use as a backing track.
- start out right – of course, it’s possible to have a perfectly decent sing-along without an instrument or backing track (my preferred option). In this case, you need to make sure that whoever starts the next song chooses an appropriate starting note. Try singing the song quietly to yourself first, and move the starting note up or down until you’re in a comfortable range. If you find people are straining, just start the song again with a different starting note.
- take turns to choose songs – don’t let Uncle Ted take over, but go round the circle and let each person choose their favourite song from the song sheet. And unless they are seriously embarrassed, allow them to take charge of the song: starting note, speed, dynamics, how many times you repeat the chorus, etc.
- turn the lights down low – create a suitably festive atmosphere. Low lights (but enough to be able to read the words!), squish together, sufficient seats, log fire.
- lubricate those vocal cords – not everyone is keen to sing, but it’s amazing what they’ll do after a few drinks!
- don’t force it – even after a couple of glasses of mulled wine, some people just won’t want to sing. Let them sit out and listen, don’t make them feel bad. Who knows, they might get swept up by the group and join in later.
- less is more – any family can make beautiful music together. It doesn’t have to be a jokey, shouty, drunken rendition. Be gentle, work as a team, listen to each other, add harmonies if you’re up to it (not everyone at once!).
- arrange help in the crowd – if some of your family are experienced singers or musicians, then have a word with them beforehand and scatter them around evenly to support and encourage those less confident.
And one final extra tip:
- modern technology has its place – if a song is not on your song sheet, then get Aunty Mabel’s new iPad, Google the lyrics and let everyone stand round the festive glow of the screen to sing the song.
I’m sure I’ve missed some handy hints out. Don’t be afraid to leave a comment with your own suggestions. Do you have a family sing-along each Christmas? How do you make sure it goes well?
Have a fantastic Christmas and I’ll see you next week.