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Reviewed by Randy B. Lichtman for Readers' Favorite
Though it’s early in the year, time will go quickly when piano teachers need to begin selecting books for their students to prepare for Christmas. Follow the Star: Christmas Songs for Piano—Level 2 by Donna Gielow McFarland, Cherry Wilson, and Tami Wilson will be one of the books to consider using for piano students. It is a very good book for Level 2 students, focuses on building and reinforcing skills, and contain fun arrangements for the holidays.
Here are my observations on valuable skills covered within the holiday selection arrangements:
• “The Holly and the Ivy” includes some nice chording in the left hand in a ¾ meter.
• “We Three Kings” includes a sustaining accompaniment while transferring melody from the right hand to the left hand.
• “Silent Night” has a nice arpeggiated introduction between right hand and left hand, also concluding with a similar pattern to end the piece.
• “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” includes some nice bordun accompaniment consisting of 5ths in cut time. Another song, “I Wonder as I Wander” offers a similar use of 5ths and 6ths intervals as accompaniment.
• “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” opens with a nice fanfare beginning in octaves and then proceeding to harmony between the two hands with a pleasant accompaniment.
• Other favorites “Auld Lang Syne”, “Theme from Nutcracker Suite Overture”, and “The First Noel” are enjoyable with additional skill development. Contrasting most of the songs in 3/4 time (with the exception of "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" in cut time), the first two selections are in 4/4 time.
• Finally, “What Child is This” is a duet allowing the student the experience of having their teacher accompany them with a piece which alternates between right and left-hand melody.
Gielow McFarland has done a nice job of editing and co-arranging selection of holiday songs in Follow the Star: Christmas Songs for Piano—Level 2. Along with co-arrangers, Cherry Wilson and Tami Wilson, they have arranged a very nice collection of Christmas Songs for Level 2 Students. Well recommended for music teachers to consider for their piano students.