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22 dec: Music by the Season by Alison Notkin » solve my space BLOG
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22 dec: Music by the Season by Alison Notkin

There are only 3 days remaining on the advent calendar and it wouldn’t be the holiday season (or any season) without the joys of music.  So I’m delighted that Alison Notkin of “Music by the Season” is guest blogging today!


As a music researcher and children’s music educator, I am always on the look-out for beautiful and unique music to discover for myself or to share with people. I find it fascinating that when most of us sing to our children we revert to classics such as Baa Baa Black Sheep (published 1744) and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (published 1806) which have been around for hundreds of years. These are the songs that most of us who grew up in Western or Western-influenced cultures learned when we were small. There is much value in keeping these great songs alive, and one of the neat things about them is that they are passed down from generation to generation and can be sung by kids and great grandparents alike.


In my children’s music program “Music By The Season” the songs we sing have to do with nature and are either taken from lesser-known folk music or music influenced by the Rudolf Steiner tradition, or are written by myself.  I love introducing new music to the children and parents who come to my classes. Children have such an incredible capacity for learning new things and there is such a variety of lovely melodies and sounds out there for them to explore.


*See below for more information about the program and a promotion for the upcoming session!*

The Holiday season is an ideal time to discover new music.  Here are a couple of examples of less common holiday songs that I have found over the years in preparation for the Candlelight Christmas music series that I play every year with the McDade family in Edmonton, Alberta:


A Swedish carol about St Stephen announcing to Herod the impending birth of the baby Jesus who would eventually replace him as king.  I discovered this song in a book of Christmas carols published by the Sound of Music’s Trapp Family.  The song was subsequently recorded by my friends The McDades.

The Gloucestershire Wassail

From the British wassailing tradition.  There were two kinds of wassailing in old England that would take place around the New Year. The first was the caroling kind of wassailing which had to do with going door to door to ones’ neighbours, singing and asking for money and/or treats and wishing everybody success in the new year.  The second was orchard wassailing which was when farmers would sing, drink. make noise and splash cider around in their orchards or those of their friends to inspire the apple trees to produce good harvest for the coming year (still practiced today in some parts of England!).  Loreena Mackennnitt’s version is found here.

S’Vivon (The Dreidl)

A song about the spinning dreidl that children play with during Hanukah.  Each of the dreidl’s four sides has a Hebrew letter on it and together these letters represent the expression “A Great Miracle Happened There.” The miracle refers to a time when an oil lamp lit in a destroyed temple burned for eight days and eight nights when there was only enough oil to burn for one day.  This is why Hanukah, the festival of lights, is celebrated for eight days.



Music By The Season’s Wintermusic session is starting up on January 8th.  We will be singing songs about snow, wind, cold weather, trees, and birds and other animals (including us humans) living through through the winter season.  As per usual we will be incorporating props into our musical activities and will be exploring a variety of instruments including xylophone, glockenspiel, harp, ukulele, gathering drum and an array of interesting percussion.  I am offering the popular “Music, Snack and Play” class now on Fridays as well as Thursdays.  The classes are geared to 0-4 years old.  I am also offering a beginner recorder class for 4-8 year olds.


Promotion:  Sign up by December 31st and get the first class free!  

See my website for more info and class and program descriptions:



All images via Alison Notkin

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