Did you know about 16 percent of Americans go caroling, according to the Pew Research Study? As we get closer to the holidays and Colorado gets colder by the week, the spirit of caroling is in the air. Dana Vachharanjani, the founder of Boulder County’s Dana V Music, which specializes in voice lessons, shared these caroling tips for families who want to spread holiday cheer for all to hear this year.
Which Songs to Embrace
You know when you turn on the radio during the holidays and the whole family gets filled with joy hearing familiar favorites? Those should be the ones you start with! Jingle Bells, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and Silent Night are all crowd favorites and can be sung with just melody, making it easier for children to follow along. Bringing songbooks or lyric sheets to keep everyone aware of the next line is never a bad idea. Encourage your caroling audience to sing along as it’s always more fun when the community joins in.
Which Songs to Avoid
I recommend that families avoid Good King Wenceslas because it has a difficult rhythm and people aren’t very familiar with the whole song as well as O Holy Night and What Child Is This? because of the large range it covers. Ironically, Here We Come A-Caroling throws everyone off as many people, especially young ones, don’t know the words as well as they think they do.
Requests will happen, and welcome them if you feel comfortable. If you’re not familiar with the songs, be polite and offer another that is similar.
Warming Up Your Voice
Warming up your vocals gets your voices and ears ready and keeps your voice warmer for longer when you’re outside. If you have never done vocal warmups before, try humming, first in your mid-ranges, then try to bring your voice higher. After you feel like your voice is warm, try singing through your carols together. Once you’re outside and getting colder, make “zzzzz” sounds into a scarf to keep your voice warm.
Planning Your Night
Caroling will go much better for everyone involved if you do a little planning beforehand. Depending on the crowd’s reaction, try three to four songs at each stop. It’s OK if you don’t draw a crowd. Encourage children to just sing for fun and understand that not everyone is going to gather around.
Some favorite destinations to carol around Colorado, which often include a receptive crowd and beautiful holiday decorations, include Denver’s Hilltop, Park Hill, and Virginia Village neighborhoods, Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall, Louisville’s business district on Main Street, and around Vail Village. You could also visit outdoor ice rinks, ask about caroling opportunities at a local church, or assemble a group to carol around your own neighborhood. If you plan to go around a neighborhood, respect folks’ desire for space. One option is just to sing and stroll, or ring the doorbell and step back to the sidewalk to sing.
Before venturing out, make sure everyone has enough warm clothes including gloves, hats, and earmuffs. Nothing is worse than feeling cold when you’re trying to put everyone in a festive mood! Lastly, no caroling experience is complete without lots of hot chocolate and warm beverages throughout the evening. Stay warm and have fun!
Dana Vachharajani is the owner of Dana V Music School in Louisville. Look for Dana V Music students and families caroling throughout Louisville this December.