Can you imagine the holiday season without the music? We can’t! Fact is that music makes Christmas and Hanukkah celebrations all the more special and meaningful.
Of course, when we listen to the holiday music, we love to hear the sound of different instruments. You may not have given it much thought, but certain instruments are very prominent in Christmas and Hanukkah festivities. Some of them have roots in religion and history, while others are borne out of tradition, art, and even pop culture.
In Renaissance art, some of the Nativity paintings depict musical instruments. One such 17th century piece of art, “The Adoration of the Shepherds” by Italian artist Domenico Zampieri features a shepherd playing his bagpipes for the Infant Jesus. In another, by Piero de la Francesca, musicians standing over newborn Christ play guitar-like instruments. Other Nativity paintings of the era feature harps, tambourines, as well as instruments that resemble violins and flutes.
All of the above instruments are still widely used today, in one form or another. Others, however, are mostly relegated to history – or perhaps a museum. For instance, at Christmas time, families in the 18th century America gathered around the piano-like spinet and the hammer dulcimer . And modern-day re-enactments of the colonial era show the popularity of fife and drums .
Some still-popular Christmas songs, like “12 Days of Christmas” (which includes “Eleven Pipers Piping”) was written during the colonial times as well, while another instrument –related song, “The Little Drummer Boy” was composed much later, in the 1940s.
Need other examples of “Christmas-y” instruments? Look no further than the Rockefeller Plaza and its dozen trumpet-playing sculpture angels – wonderful symbol of Christmas in our city.
And as this musically versatile family demonstrates , several different instruments can be included in a Christmas celebration.
What about the Hanukkah? First, let’s go back to ancient times and the instruments musicians used during religious observances. The Temple orchestra consisted of 12 instruments, including the lyre, harp, trumpet, three varieties of pipe, cymbal, as well as ram’s horn called the “shofar.”
Modern-day renditions of traditional Hanukkah songs often feature a regular piano ,
a guitar , or a medley of instruments for the less traditional (but inspiring nevertheless) songs.
At Hey Joe Guitar, we love all the instruments and teach many of the ones mentioned above – and then some: guitar, piano, drums, trumpet, trombone, brass, reeds, saxophone, clarinet flute, violin, viola, cello, strings, accordion, ukulele, banjo, recorder, mandolin, and voice.
Just think about all the beautiful music you can make with any of these instruments – during the holiday season and all year round.
Not sure how to strike the right note? That’s not a problem: one of our awesome teachers will be happy to come to your Manhattan, Brooklyn, or Riverdale home or office and give you or your child lessons.