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Book Review Easy Christmas Carols Instrumental Solos and Classic Rock Instrumental Solos by Alfred Music Publishing

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Easy Christmas Carols Instrumental Solos is a beautifully arranged set of  14 popular Christmas Songs. This is a beginner’s arrangement so your new instrumentalist can practice familiar songs. The solos are arranged for flute, clarinet, alto sax, tenor sax, trumpet, horn in F, trombone, violin, viola, and cello. The stringed instrument solos also come with a removable piano accompaniment.  Included in each solo book is a CD which features fully-orchestrated, professionally recorded accompaniment tracks to every song found in the book. Two recordings per songs feature a demonstration track of a live instrumental performance, followed by the play-along track. The beginner can learn while playing alone with the demo and then can fly solo on the performance track. This is one of the best ways for a new player to learn his phrasing and counting. There are tracks in various beats and all songs will be familiar to the new musician. The easy arrangements can also help the more advanced player learn to produce a clearer, cleaner sound.

Christmas songs included are: “Angels We Have Heard on High,” “Away in a Manger (Medley),” “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus,” “Go, Tell It on the Mountain,” “We Three Kings,” “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” “Joy to the World,” “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” “Silent Night,” “The First Noel,” and “What Child Is This.”  By far, our favorite arrangement to play, me on piano, my son on cello, was “The First Noel.”

Classic Rock Instrumental Solos is for levels 2-3 which means it is a bit more challenging for someone unfamiliar with the songs and/or someone who has not been playing for very long. My son was familiar with some of the songs from our karaoke family nights, but others had to be played for him several times before he was able to play along.

Classic Rock songs included are: “Gimme Some Lovin’,” “25 or 6 To 4,” “Go Your Own Way,” “Hotel California,” Roundabout,” “In The Midnight Hour,” “Open Arms,” “Satisfaction,” “Stairway to Heaven,” “Spirit in the Sky,” “Don’t Stop Believin’,” and “Sunshine of Your Love.”

Chicago is one of my favorite groups because of their massive orchestra. I was thrilled to play along with the flute solo book. My son, who has been playing cello for one year, struggled to keep up in the beginning, but by our third time he was able to play the 16th notes. “25 or 6 to 4” was the most fun to play of all the songs in the flute solo book. However, “Open Arms” was a good arrangement for flute, mostly because the flute solo plays the melody on this beautiful song and I am able to hit the notes on the flute that I cannot hit while singing. “Stairway to Heaven” was a slight disappointment in the flute solo book because the traditional flute part in the Led Zeppelin arrangement is omitted. Instead, the flute plays the melody which is a bit boring. Fortunately, I was able to play the piano accompaniment on my flute while my son played the cello solo which, when played with the CD, was beautiful. We were also able to play along with the original music because the cello/piano music is in the same key as the original Led Zeppelin hit.

We had a blast working through the sheet music for these songs. As most musicians can attest, sometimes sheet music can oversimplify a familiar song, rendering it hard on the ears. However, Alfred Music Publishing has done a tremendous job arranging these pieces. We were so happy doing this together that we sat right down and ordered more music. If you have a musical family, I highly recommend you spend some quality family time playing music from Alfred Music Publishing.

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About Alexandria Jackson