This is the ideal time to make the most of your love of music and Christmas songs. Volunteer to sing Christmas carols for veterans, kids with cancer, the elderly, the homeless—and for anyone whose spirits you want to lift. And, if you are musically inclined and want to take a creative approach, try recording songs, either original songs you create, or songs in the public domain. Here is a list of places to sing, and tips and tidbits about recording your own Christmas and holiday songs!
WHERE TO SHARE CHRISTMAS CAROLS
‘Tis the season of giving! Spread the cheer right here in your community. Here are some places that would love to have you share the joy of Christmas song and cheer. Calendars fill up fast, so contact these sources right away to schedule a time.
Nursing homes come first to mind, and domestic violence, women’s, and homeless shelters would love the merriment. You can bring cheer to food banks, kids’ hospitals, veterans’ organizations, health facilities, churches, your own neighborhood, and even businesses on their lunch break.
When choosing the songs you’ll sing, make sure to tailor them to your target audience Though everyone can benefit from uplifting music therapy, some age groups might prefer the timeless classics, while other age groups might enjoy more trendy versions. Sometimes thinking outside the box makes sense. For example, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Frosty the Snowman,” are some kids’ favs, but can also be enjoyed by the elderly—kids at heart of any age.
CHRISTMAS CAROLING TIPS & TIDBITS
- Remember, harmonies can complement a song.
- Musician friends and the musically inclined can join in and play their instrument(s) of choice.
- Consider adding choreography for a visual element of movement.
- Dress warmly and be brightly festive.
- Stay hydrated and bring a canteen of cocoa and healthy snacks, such as clementines or nuts.
- Be sure to warm up your instrument and your voice before the show.
- Provide percussion, such as jingle bells, tambourines, and shakers.
- Arrive with handouts and goodies. Holiday greeting cards, handwritten notes, inspirational quotes and/or mini-candy canes work well.
THE 411 ON PUBLIC DOMAIN, COVER, AND ORIGINAL HOLIDAY SONGS
A memorable way to capture your Christmas and holiday song(s) is by recording. But, before you head to the studio or record at home, make sure you know what’s what about copyright issues, since inadvertent violation of copyright issues could come at a cost.
As a local singer/songwriter/musician, I have experienced the realm of PD (public domain) to be an exciting discovery for me. When recording a PD song, you own the copyright to your original arrangement of the recording, but not to the underlying composition. When recording and performing a PD song, you are NOT required to obtain what is called a “mechanical” or “synchronization” license.
Here’s a short list of Christmas PD songs provided by the online music aggregator, CD Baby:
- “Angels We Have Heard On High”
- “Away In a Manger”
- “Deck the Halls”
- “God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen”
- “Good King Wenceslas”
If recoding a cover song, however, you are required to obtain a “mechanical” or “synchronization” license, since someone else owns the copyright. Audio-only recordings for CDs require a mechanical license, and a synchronization licensee is required for video format, such as YouTube videos. Copyrighted songs limit what you can do stylistically and lyrically and your version of the recording must not mispresent the original recording. To obtain a mechanical or synchronization license, you need to negotiate directly with the copyright holder, a process which can be long and complex.
With your own original song, however, you have full artistic license. You can make your songs as traditional or modern in sound and style as you like. The sky’s the limit with originals, and it’s up to you to protect your own original material by copyrighting your lyrics and submitting them to a performance rights organization such as BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC.
Embrace ears, lift spirits, and bring joy to hearts. Share your passion for merry music making as you give generously with Christmas carols that brighten the holiday season!