Christmas music magic
It never fails each year that listening to Christmas songs from the past and present guides me to a place of treasured holiday memories and a renewed love for the season.
We all know the feeling of dread that can accompany Christmas and New Year’s — decorations to hang, the Christmas tree to decorate, cookies to bake, food to make, gifts to wrap, Christmas cards to write, social events to attend and phone calls to family and friends to keep in touch. Somehow we rise to the occasion and get it all done.
But it all goes much faster and much easier with Christmas music in the background calming you and making you remember the joys of a lifetime that are all connected to Christmastime.
I still recall our class singing “The Carol of the Bells” in four to six-part harmony in grade school with our seventh grade music teacher Sr. Jane Mary. I was so blessed to have had such an incredible teacher show us how to sing in harmony and encourage a deep love of music.
I’ve always loved to sing harmony any chance I could. The beauty of voices entwining in different parts-alto, soprano, tenor, bass and baritone-was such a joy to hear and to create with others.
I remember myself and another lady musician jumping up on stage at an open mic night in Pittsburgh once where a guy was singing Crosby, Stills and Nash’s “Helplessly Hoping” so we could add the harmonies. We all high-fived each other when the song was over because we got the three-part harmonies perfect and we’d never sung together before. What a treat.
As I listened to and watched so many artists performing Christmas songs to prepare my Christmas song feature article this year, I realized that music and harmony holds the key to healing so much of what is wrong today.
As I watched Pentatonix perform “Hallelujah” and their other Christmas tunes, I was struck by how each of the five singers are distinct individuals with different styles of singing, but they blended their parts and voices so exceptionally, even creating percussion rhythms with their voices and bodies.
If five very different people could create such beauty by singing and a children’s choir can raise their voices in exquisite harmony to sing “Carol of the Bells” or “The Christmas Canon,” why can’t the rest of mankind lay down their differences, anger and hate and make a beautiful noise with music together instead?
A bluegrass group with its tight harmonies and finely-tuned mandolin, banjo, fiddle and guitar, a rock band with its lead and rhythm guitars, vocalists, keyboards, bass and drums, folk singers with acoustic guitars and a piano or a choir can all be considered role models for the world.
Each musician and singer tunes into what the others in the band or ensemble are doing, makes musical adjustments and blends perfectly with the other voices and instruments, creating a work of art and beauty.
May the sounds and harmonies of Christmas music and all music heal and comfort us and guide us to living in peace, harmony and love upon this earth.