Carol of the Handbell Choir

I so looked forward to playing handbells this Christmas eve but the weather kept me from attending worship and many services in my area were even canceled.  We had a "White Christmas" and then some with over six inches of snow the last time I checked.  So for this weeks video of the week I decided to share a handbell choir piece.  This version of the "Carol of the Bells" comes from the handbell choir of First Baptist Church Eastman, GA, directed by Clay Layfield.  Enjoy! 


Studio Update: 2009 Wrap-up

Well, Christmas Day has come and gone and now we have entered the fun in between time of the 12 days of Christmas and Epiphany.  The past couple weeks have been an interesting time for my family as we prepared for the Christmas holiday.  My husband and daughter passed around a flu bug that wasn't fun for anyone.  I am so thankful that neither I nor my 6 month old son caught the bug. (knock on wood.)  Kansas City received an insane amount of snow that halted pretty much everything in the area and made it so that my family couldn't attend Christmas eve services or church this past Sunday.  I had so looked forward to ringing handbells and singing with the choir so I was quite disappointed and the Children's Christmas program for the Sunday after didn't happen either.  I did get to enjoy Christmas eve unexpectedly from my computer with a live feed from the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection located in Leawood, Kansas.  I remembered at the last minute that they had started that ministry.  I really enjoyed worshiping that way since I had small children and couldn't get out because of the weather.  I would encourage anyone to check it out.

I have learned a lot this year and continued work on my goals for the Elliott Music Studio and can't wait to begin looking to 2010.  This year we embarked on our first try at a studio recital and just couldn't pull it off due to scheduling conflicts.  But we did get some great recordings that I hope to share soon on my website and here on my blog.  Plans are in the works for at least 2 studio recitals / performance opportunities for next year.  One in the spring and the other in late fall.  I like the idea of a Holiday Recital but I am not sure about the logistics.  We may make the Christmas Recital a virtual event that we put on YouTube for families to watch all through the season.  I also enjoyed collaborating on several studio pieces this year and look forward to more opportunities in the future.  The studio is still growing as we work towards are goal of 20 students in 2010.  So, don't forget to share us with your family and friends!  A more detailed list of my music goals for 2010 is forthcoming this week.

I wanted to share a couple of Christmas items I found that I thought you all might enjoy and had planned to share earlier but couldn't with all the hubbub.  The first one comes from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and it's entitled, "The Christmas Story Through Period Art".  I found it last year and have kept going back.  It is such a beautiful experience.  You won't regret the visit.  The second one is a fantastic video from Straight No Chaser and their rendition of the "12 Days of Christmas."  I believe it needs no more explanation.  Enjoy!


Quote of the Week "I heard the bells..."

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


A Caroling We Will Go - "Let is Snow & Sleigh Ride"

I had to change gears a little bit from my blues listening on thesixtyone.com to get into the spirit of the season to write this post. If this video doesn't help you get into the spirit of things I don't know what will. On my "A Caroling We Will Go" adventure I ran across the grand finale to Pellissippi State Music Department's Christmas Concert from 2008. Carolers appear one last time to perform two timeless Christmas holiday classics, "Let it Snow" and "Sleigh Ride." The Conductor is Bill Brewer, Associate Professor of Music. I love how they added that extra special touch by dressing like carolers. It truly adds a touch of whimsy. I am told that the awesome high kicks during "Sleigh Ride" come from Michael Stokes who belonged to the Concert Chorale and Variations vocal groups at PSTCC. He also teaches dance, go figure. Enjoy!


Quote of the Week "Sing hey! Sing hey!"

Sing hey! Sing hey!
For Christmas Day;
Twine mistletoe and holly.
For a friendship glows
In winter snows,
And so let's all be jolly!
~Author Unknown


What's on Your Musician's Christmas List?

I am terrible at remembering what I would like to have for gifts so several years ago I started keeping a run-on list on my Palm PDA. Any time I think of something that would make a great present for me or something that I know I would buy if I had the money right now I put it on the list. It really has come in handy and helps me to prioritize my spending, too.

So, what to get the budding musician in your life? I thought I would list here some of the things on my gift list as well as past gifts that were really helpful or just plain neat. If you are still stumped, you can always go the gift card route. I know that I appreciate gift cards a lot.

Emily's Music Wishlist

Performance music folder with hand strap - Makes solo singing a breeze

Music Stand - My studio desperately needs one

German-English, Italian-English & French-English dictionaries -
for all those vocal score translations

Piano Style Sustain Foot Pedal - I was thrilled to find out they made these. I can't wait to have my own.

De-Lovely Soundtrack CD - I am in love with this movie and the music of Cole Porter. A must have for my music collection.

Rhythm Heaven - For my Nintendo DS

Musicnotes.com Gift Certificate - This is such a great place to get sheet music. I love the fact that I can pay and print my music at the same time. I don't have to wait for it to be shipped to me.

Metronome - This handy tool is great for practice

Private Music Lessons Gift Certificate - Couldn't resist a shameless plug for the Elliott Music Studio

Concert Tickets

Musical Biographies & History of Music Books

Mixed CD's - Share some of your favorites

Tea Basket - For the singer in your life fill a basket with herbal teas and throat soothers. Add some honey and maybe a nice travel mug.

Composer Statues

Novelty Music Gifts - Check out this website for an awesome collect of music nick-nacks and the like.

I hope this list gets you started and helps you find the perfect gifts for the musicians in your life.
There are so many perfect gift ideas out there that I know I am bound to miss one. Don't forget to tell me what I missed in the comments. Merry Christmas!


A Caroling We Will Go - "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings"

"God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings" featuring Sarah McLachlan comes to us from the album "Barenaked For The Holidays" by the Barenaked Ladies. It is not the holidays until I listen to this song. I think it's pure genius and I will have it on repeat for the rest of the season. If you know where I can get the sheet music for this arrangement let me know. The other reasons why I love this CD is because it makes great party music and it includes songs for Hanukkah and New Year's. It's a must have. Enjoy!


A Caroling We Will Go - "Angels We Have Heard On High"

This year I have decided to try and enjoy the music of the season even more than usual. As a church musician it's hard to get in the spirit since I have had to practice all of these songs since October. But for my kids sake this year and for future years to come I am trying to enjoy these songs more and one way to do that is to widen my scope. I have been listening to many different styles and trying not to stick to just my favorites. Accuradio.com has been a help in this. Try the channel of unknown Christmas albums. I will warn you that some of these might scare you at first or take you completely off guard. They are not your usual Christmas carols.

I also took one of those funny pop knowledge quizes for Christmas Carols this week. I had to identify songs based on sound clips. It turns out I am at Elf level and scored 860 points getting 61.29% of the questions right. I am 140 points away from the Santa level. To try your hand at this cool quiz and others related to Christmas music check out the Parents.com website here.

Now back to "A Caroling We Will Go". "Six Pence None the Richer has done it again with "Angels We Have Heard on High" from the "The Dawn Of Grace" album. I would love to find out who designed the animation. It is just so cute. My daughter has been asking me to replay it every day this week. I enjoy the light and almost delicate sound that they give this song and visuals are such a great pairing. Enjoy!


Quote of the Week "Oh! Lovely voices of the sky..."

Oh! lovely voices of the sky
Which hymned the Saviour's birth,
Are ye not singing still on high,
Ye that sang, "Peace on earth"?
~Felicia Hemans


Top 50 Contemporary Christian Christmas Songs

I am becoming more savy this year when it comes to contemporary Christmas music and the Top 50 list from Musicnotes.com blog has been a great help. I have been working on a few new songs this year for our contemporary worship at One Spirit UMC as well. Here are five of my new favorites from the list.

4.All is Well by Michael W. Smith

29.Mary, Did you Know? by Kathy Mattea and several others

O Come, O Come Emmanuel by BarlowGirl, Steven Curtis Chapman and more!

42.The Christmas Shoes by NewSong

49.Unto Us (Isaiah 9) by Sandi Patty

For the complete list of 50 songs see the musicnotes.com blog.

I can't wait to hear about your favorites. Please share in the comments.


A Caroling We Will Go - "Silent Night"

I have fallen in love with Sixpence None The Richer's album "The Dawn of Grace" which features eight Christmas classics and two original recordings for the season. I have chosen "Silent Night" Featuring Dan Haseltine from Jars Of Clay for this week's Wednesday video. The amazingly cute animated video is a cool bonus. I have found a great arrangement of "Silent Night" for my own recording project and hope to put it on Youtube soon. Enjoy!


A Caroling We Will Go - "Drummer Boy"

I am kicking off my first ever "A Caroling We Will Go" series for the seasons of Advent and Epiphany. So, from now until mid January I will be sharing with you some of my favorite carols from various artists. Our first one comes from a live performance of "Drummer Boy" by Jars of Clay. This song and 14 others are available on Jars Of Clay's album "Christmas Songs". I love the use of mallet percussion constantly reminding the listener visually of the drum and the little boy going to visit Jesus in the Stable. For more information about the history of carols and your favorite carol check out this article. Enjoy!


Quote of the Week "Wouldn't life be worth.."

Wouldn't life be worth the living
Wouldn't dreams be coming true
If we kept the Christmas spirit
All the whole year through?
~Author Unknown


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