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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Christmas is a special time of year for many children around the world. Children learning to play a musical instrument are eager to perform their favorite Christmas songs, like “Jingle Bells”, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”, “Up On A Housetop” and so many others. Some of these songs can be quite challenging, but with careful arrangement the songs can be simplified for any instrument. Arrangements for the piano, being the most common beginner instrument, can easily carry the tune between the two hands, usually in the Middle C position. Similarly, as the piano student progresses, simple arrangements will provide most of the melody in the right hand with a few notes of harmony in the left hand.
Donna Gielow McFarland’s collection of Christmas songs for beginning piano, Follow the Star: Christmas Songs for Piano (Primer and Level 1), is a significant selection of popular Christmas songs arranged for the very beginners and those students who have progressed just beyond the very beginner level of musical competence. The arrangements are well presented in large print, complete with the lyrics and comprehensive fingering. The songs are accompanied by charming black and white drawings by artist Sandy Silverthorne. Some of the more creative young pianists might be inspired to color these drawings to brighten the sheet music that they are performing.
With seven Christmas songs for each level, Primer and Level 1, this collection is a great addition to any young pianist's Christmas repertoire. It is interesting that each Christmas song in this collection has the original composer identified as well as the name of the lyricist, something not always found in a Primer/Level 1 popular music collection. As a retired music teacher, I would certainly recommend this book as a real gem to include in the music teacher's repertoire.