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Stories of the Great Christmas Carols.

Stories of the Great Christmas Carols, by Kenon Renfrow and June Montgomery. Alfred Publishing Co., Inc. (16320 Roscoe Blvd., Ste. 100, Van Nuys, CA 91410), 2003. 56pp. $8.50. Late elementary to early intermediate.

Stories of the Great Christmas Carols is written for late-elementary to early-intermediate students. It is one of three in a series including Stories of the Great Composers for elementary-level students and Stories of the Great Hymns, for late-elementary to early-intermediate students. Each carol actually is presented as a unit, which in itself implies study and not only learning of a new piece. There are ten units in all, with an introduction on the history of the Christmas carol. In turn, each Christmas carol is preceded by a story about how that carol has evolved. Following the carols is a special challenge, crossword, word search, scramble or matching game that tests the student's knowledge about what she read. The Christmas carols chosen are both familiar and sacred.

The arrangements of the carols are simple and predictable. The keys chosen are C major, G major, F major and E minor. The difficulties lie only in the student's ability to move both hands out of a position. At a late-elementary level, this should be standard.

As proclaimed in the foreword, the collection was created for several uses, including private and group piano instruction, church choir clubs, Sunday schools, Christian schools and home schools. Although it could be beneficial in private study, I see a greater use for this material in a group setting. In a group, one could assign a different unit to several students and have each present the unit by highlighting the points of the story and, in turn, playing the carol. Because it is difficult to learn several carols in the Christmas season, this would be a great way for the students to play a carol and learn about several others. Overall, Stories of the Great Christmas Carols is a different twist on learning the same carols. Reviewed by Sheri Stoner-Harris, Ballwin, Missouri.
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Author:Stoner-Harris, Sheri
Publication:American Music Teacher
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Apr 1, 2004
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