Christmas Repertoire

A tutorial tri-collection

Christmas repertoire follows standard jazz progressions so is very easy to learn if you already have some jazz repertoire or experience in jazz studies.  You already know most of them so well on your internal jukebox (I would guess!) so all you really need to get down iare the chords.  Herein, I share three christmas tutorials hopefully in time for you to get them down and impress or bring joy to your family and friends!  Be sure to see their description boxes for links to further studies, as well as to my google drive for the free score (as with all my song analyses).

I start with this one, not only because it's more recent (better recording quality) but because it discusses everything that you need to understand and be able to do in order to more easily master the others below (and any jazz repertoire).  Of note, mastering the chords away from the piano first, having an awareness of modal theory (to know what chords should be played but which can be different if the composer so decided) and putting the melody last, often by ear since you know the song so well but by a lead sheet if necessary.

I recommend watching this video entitled the one jazz piece.  It encourages you to recognise that this kind of repertoire is based on a very common pattern which, once mastered, key irrelevant, you will struggle very little with new repertoire.

This one shows you the chords but provides a few ideas on improvisation.  It's a scary word for some people but I like to introduce people to improvisation via three steps which keeps them on safe, comfortable notes but still provides for freedom:  notes of the chord, add the 9, play chromatic lines connecting the first and second.  I have a video on that and other stuff here.

This tutorial is jazz based again but introduces the blues scale, chord extensions and note value awareness.  This is only possible with major scale mastery (see dedicated playlist) and involves being able to recognise what note value any note is, based on the bass note.  If I play an F as a note of improvisation and the key of the chord is Bb, what note value is F?  5.  What if I then continue with the F but the key of the chord becomes Eb?  F is now a 9th.  This is such an invaluable skill to have and unsurprisingly, I have a video on it!

So whichever Christmas repertoire you want to learn, follow this process:  make sure it's on your internal jukebox, find a lead sheet and master the chord progression and structure away from the piano numerically (so that key doesn't matter), fret not over the melody.  At the piano, prove to yourself that you know the chords by playing them with both hands (meaning, don't fall into the trap of thinking that only the left hand plays chords and only the right plays melody lines) and then find the melody, I do encourage, by ear.  You'll have the song down in no time.  You need not embellish chords or improvise, just make sure your performance is steady.  A balanced mind gives a balanced performance.

And hopefully entertain your friends and family!

Oh, and here's a recording from many years ago to close with.