Holiday Extras in our Homeschool: Christmas Carols Made Easy

This entry is part 44 of 56 in the series Homeschool

This Christmas we will be working as a family in our homeschool to learn Christmas Carols together – it is such a fun new tradition!

Question: What do you do in the month of December for homeschooling?

We typically fashion together an assortment of nativity-focused activities. Since I try to be finished with our first term of school by Thanksgiving, we have lots more time to dig into fun “extras” in December. Those extras include a Nativity Bible study, our Christmas Gathering, more art projects, time in the kitchen, and a good Christmas read-aloud (bonus if it makes Mama cry – they always make me cry).

This year I am so excited to add a truly special “extra” to our list of things to do: Christmas Carols Made Easy!

Earlier this year, I shared a wonderful homeschool resource for music instruction – Singing Made Easy. I shared how we have an aspiring vocalist in our homeschool. This year, she has blossomed in her confidence in singing. In fact, she has a small part (with solos) in the Christmas play at our Awana church! I know she is going to love this extra during the holiday season!

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Typically, I struggle with spending money on the “extras” very often for our kids. It is just so expensive! And extras take up a lot of time – driving around, practicing, finding all the accoutrement for whatever passion we are pursuing at the time.

We homeschool by choice and are kind of homebodies by nature. But I want to be able to share music education with my kids. So, I was so excited when I found out about “Singing Made Easy.” In fact, it is now my favorite extra! This is the one thing I will adjust our schedule to do because my entire family can get genuine expert vocal training at home!

Let me give you the details on “Singing Made Easy” and then I will tell you about “Christmas Carols Made Easy.”

What is “Singing Made Easy?”

“Singing Made Easy” is a supplemental vocal coaching curriculum for all ages and experiences of singers. It was put together by Marica McCarry, who was a vocalist and music teacher. She is also the mother of Andrew Pudewa, founder of the Institute for Excellence in Writing.

I know this sounds like a fangirl, but the moment I heard it was Andrew Pudewa’s mom who had created this curriculum, I knew I would want to check it out. His lectures, including many anecdotes about his musical studies, are so enlightening and interesting. An introduction to his mom was something I was definitely interested in.

If you read closely those sentences about Mrs. McCarry, you may have noticed I spoke about her in the past tense. And that is because she has passed away. But Mr. Pudewa asked Gena Mayo of Music in our Homeschool to carry on the work his mother started years ago. The program is entirely hers – she even sings the mp3s. Gena has updated it and hosts it on her easy-to-use site for others to enjoy.

Specifics about “Singing Made Easy”

  • The program has 5 levels, and a bonus level “Christmas Carols made Easy”. All five levels are now available. Plus, “Christmas Carols Made Easy” was just released in time for the holidays!
  • Students of all ages will learn eleven songs in Level 1 of “Singing Made Easy,” ten in Level 2, and another 12 in Level 3! The later levels of Singing Made Easy have another 20+ songs! The program includes mp3s of each song, as well as instrumental versions to sing along to.
  • Foundational singing concepts for each song. I just love the way Mrs. McCarry simply describes musical concepts. In lesson 1 of Level 1 she discusses staccato and legato beautifully without sounding too technical. We have incorporated our staccato and legato knowledge to make our regular memory work review more fun.
  • Correct technique – the descriptions of how to breathe, prepare, and sing are easy to follow.  

What else is included?

  • Coloring Sheets (one for each song) – we enjoyed looking at the coloring sheets and trying to “name that tune” based on the pictures!
  • Piano Accompaniment sheet music – I am learning to play the piano right now, so this is super exciting for me!
  • The Friendly Staff to learn the lines and spaces of the treble and bass clefs – I need a brush up on this and my kids love working on this, too!

What makes “Singing Made Easy” special?

Relaxation is the method

I have absolutely no vocal training – not unless you count singing along to a Fisher Price record player to the “oldies” when I was a kid. But I love to sing – love it! I was discouraged from it when I was younger by some comments about my singing too loudly along to Van Morrison in the backseat.

Still I want my kids to not only love singing, but to know how to sing. One of my daughters says she is going to be a famous singer some day. As I mentioned, she is beginning to blossom into this and looking for more instruction. But now I can learn to sing alongside her!

When Mrs. McCarry explained in the introduction to her program that singing is all about relaxation, it somehow demystified the mystery of singing well. She also talked about almost anyone having the ability to “carry a tune” if she can match pitches and relax.

It is hard to not have fun while singing

I have talked about it almost too many times to mention again, but we are a singing homeschool. Although we may not sing well, we LOVE to sing. Our homeschool often resembles a musical with songs being sung at truly random times.

What makes singing so special for us is it is hard to be unhappy and sing. The connection between relaxation and singing must form a triangle with contentment or something. Singing just simply brings smiles to our faces, even on rough days.

What is Christmas Carols Made Easy?

Although “Christmas Carols Made Easy” is an extension of the “Singing Made Easy” course, it is intended for ages 9 and up. Whereas anybody can sing the earlier levels of Singing Made Easy, this course has some more complicated songs in various languages. Also some songs include harmony parts, so they are perfect for singing together as a family.

The songs included in the course are:

  • Kling, Glöckchen (Ring, Little Bells), Germany (in German)
  • King Jesus Hath a Garden, Holland
  • The Son of Mary (El Noi de la Mare), Catalonian Carol, Spain
  • Campana Sobre Campana (Bells over Bethlehem) Andalucian Carol, Spain (in Spanish)
  • Song of the Wise Men, Puerto Rico
  • The Holly and the Ivy, England’Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow, America
  • Il est né, le divin Enfant (He is Born, the Holy Child), France (in French)
  • Un Flambeau, Jeanette, Isabelle (Bring a Torch, Jeannette, Isabella), France (in French)
  • What Child is This? England
  • Ding Dong! Merrily on High, France

These selections may seem a bit intimidating, but the instruction makes them much more approachable! I love the idea of selecting a couple of songs to work on with my kids this year. The course has lifetime access, so we can select a couple more next year (and the next). I love the idea of creating a family tradition of learning and singing special Christmas songs each year!

Two options for trying out “Christmas Carols Made Easy”

  1. Try out the FREE preview lesson, for “The Holly and the Ivy”. OR
  2. Grab any available level today! Or grab “Christmas Carols Made Easy” during the launch (this week) at a special discount! I was expecting the price of this program to me much higher. The value in this program is high, as the price is much lower than a month of private lessons.

“Singing Made Easy” Works!

If I am not a singer, I am definitely not a judge of singing. But I have noticed improvement in my kids who participated in the first lesson of “Singing Made Easy” in just one day.

My kids loved practicing the stretching and breathing exercises, as well as the vocal warm-ups. Then they loved singing “Hot Cross Buns” together…and then for the rest of the day at completely random times. But it wasn’t just that they wanted to be silly singing (as is so often the case). I noticed they were singing with the new techniques!

Even my oldest, who refused to participate in anything other than the relaxation exercises (because she “already likes her singing voice”) noticed my youngest’s improvement.

I included a short video of my 3-year-old singing her “poems” as she does every day. Besides the fact that she is adorable, we noticed she stood still, sang more clearly, and held notes in a more musical way. It is a sort of before-and-after for the first lesson (first day) of “Singing Made Easy.” We were definitely impressed!

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