Follow the Star

Christmas Songs for Piano: Level 5

Non-Fiction - Music/Entertainment
37 Pages
Reviewed on 11/26/2018
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Author Biography


Author Donna Gielow McFarland developed an early love for literature. She wrote her first book at age ten, and later contributed to her high school and college newspapers while working in book stores and libraries. After earning a degree in piano performance from Wheaton College and a master's degree in piano pedagogy from the University of Oregon, she taught at New Hope Christian College and currently teaches at Northwest Christian University. She also served as class piano program coordinator at the University of Oregon.

Her books include Worship at the Keys: A Method Book, Follow the Star: Christmas Songs for Piano, The Purple Elephant chapter books, Duck and Friends early readers, Sam and the Dragon: A Medieval Mars Story and several college music textbooks. Donna lives in Oregon with her husband and son.

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite

There’s nothing like a house full of music to inspire the true spirit of Christmas. As a retired music teacher, I know the value of music and the importance of encouraging young musicians at all levels to learn both the classical repertoire of their level of competence and the seasonal and popular songs. Christmas is full of music and there are so many Christmas songs, some familiar, like “O Holy Night”, and others not so familiar, like “Praise Song” and “Mary Did You Know”. And then there’s the fun of mixing the familiar tunes in a medley, like “The First Noel”, “O Come All Ye Faithful”, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”, and concluding with “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”. And, not to be left out, a variation on the “Twelve Days of Christmas”, this one being the “First Five Days of Christmas”, as well as the “Russian Dance” from Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker” and Pachelbel’s ever popular “Canon in D” offers a bonus to any collection of Christmas music, making Follow the Star a unique one.

Music teachers and musicians, Donna Gielow McFarland and Cherry Wilson, have combined their talents and expertise in music education to compile a lovely collection of six Christmas songs in Follow the Star, plus the “Christmas Carol Medley”, all structured to appeal to the learning ability of level five piano students. The melodies are interspersed with decorative bridges that add a little flair and the harmony is simple while, at the same time, adding some panache to the performance. Each piece is accompanied by a line drawing illustration by accomplished illustrator Sandy Silverthorne. Follow the Star is an excellent collection of Christmas songs to add to any intermediate level student’s assortment of Christmas music.