Christopher Chelpka

String Musicians, Christmas Kaleidoscope is the Christmas Music Book You Need to Buy

It’s almost Christmastime, and if you’re a string player wanting to play some Christmas music this year, I’ve got a great recommendation for you.

Buy for yourself, and anyone you might want to play, with Robert S. Frost’s Christmas Kaleidoscope books: Book 1 and Book 2. I have been playing from these books every Christmas since the mid-90s and I’m still not tired of them. Here’s why they work so well.

You can find a book for your instrument.

There is a book available for violin, viola, cello, bass, and piano. There is even a conductor’s score.

The books work GREAT with ensembles.

With the Christmas Kaliedoscope books, you can put together any kind of string ensemble you want. This is possible because every book has a melody line and two harmony parts. The melody line is listed as A; the harmony parts are B, C, D, and E. Violin and viola have the A, B, and C parts in their books. Cello and bass have the A, D, and E parts. This means that when playing with others it is easy to pass the melody around, and you can switch to different harmony parts as you please, no matter what instrument you’re playing. The possibilities for interesting arrangements are endless.

The publisher once produced books for every instrument. As far as I can tell, only the string books, piano, and conductor’s score are available now. But perhaps if you’re an internet super-sleuth, or if you want to clean my garage, you might be able to find the ones for winds and brass.

Between the two books, you get a solid collection of classic Christmas songs.

The two books give a total of 30 songs including Silent Night, Here We Come A-Caroling, Angels We Have Heard on High, The First Noel, and We Wish You A Merry Christmas. You can see the complete table of contents for Book 1 and Book 2.

The books are not difficult.

If you’re familiar with the difficulty grading system publishers sometimes use, Books 1 and 2 are graded at levels 1 and 2, respectively. Essentially, this means that Christmas Kaleidoscope can be played by anyone except the most beginning of beginning players. So, even if you’ve had only a few months of playing your instrument, you can definitely learn most of these songs, especially in Book 1.

But anyone will enjoy playing these pieces.

Though the songs aren’t difficult, Robert Frost’s arrangements are so well-written that professionals enjoy playing and improvising from them too. I know this from personal experience.

Bottom line:

The Christmas Kaleidoscope books give you a solid collection of Christmas songs that you can play as solos or with your friends, all while creating different arrangements every time you play. You will enjoy playing them and your audience will love listening.

For my cello students, here are direct links to Christmas Kaleidoscope Book 1 and Book 2. For everyone else, use this link to search. May you have a very merry, music-making Christmas. 🎁