Merry Christmas 2018 Silver Bells and       Singing Harmony

Every year I find a Christmas carol to produce and sing and send to all my relatives and friends to share the spirit of the season. This year for my 2018 carol I choose Silver Bells. I put this up on my website to show this process for my vocal students especially. So here's how this came together. I have a vocal student who a couple of months ago in October I brought up the idea of working on a Christmas carol and sent him one I did several years ago Silent Night which I've also included here. Since I'm such a big harmony guy, I like to do carols and songs in general that have harmonies. Harmonies, especially for inexperienced singers can be a challenge.


It's hard to sing a harmony line against the melody and hold it, the tendency is to drift back to the melody. All professional singers are

lead singers in their own right and can not only sing any harmony line, but can improvise counter melodies around the main melody. Anyways I digress. My student came back with Silver Bells. So as I teach with MIDI files I searched online and found this great orchestration remixed it and we started working on it. I think he thought it would be easier to sing than Silent Night with the tight 3 part harmony I sang. Ha! After a couple of sessions working on the melody, I sang the harmony to the melody, it's only 2 part harmony, but interesting because the 3rd and 6th harmony line goes down not following the melody, and then there's a counter melody line as well. Once I had put it together for my student I quite liked it so I recorded the melody line myself. Interestingly, when I sang the melody and listening to the recording of all the parts, I noticed I held on to melody note and the end of the phrase for a full 2 bars which I hadn't done with the harmony. So I re-recorded the harmony to match it. Also at the end when the line "soon it will be Christmas day" I couldn't resist adding a third melody on the word "day" on the beautiful moving chords through 4 bars.

The way I've developed to teach harmonies is that I turn off the melody track and we work on the harmony track until the student is

comfortable with it and then we record it and do that with as many tracks are in the piece.


Merry Christmas to all and a Happy Musical New Year!!!

Steve McCullough