caroling-with-kidsI’m headed out the door in a few minutes to go caroling at a local nursing home with a group of my students from the Hope Institute.  But before I do that, I thought I’d share a few tried and true tips for successful experiences when caroling with children.

  1. Know your audience (and the students who will be doing the caroling).  This will help you decide whether or not it is appropriate to include sacred songs, or if it’s best to stick with secular.
  2. Choose songs (just about) everyone knows.  Save “The Holly & the Ivy”, “In the Bleak Midwinter”, and the like for more grown-up singalongs.
  3. Have lyrics to pass out.  Just because you’re singing familiar songs doesn’t mean that everyone (carolers included) knows the words.
  4. One verse is plenty, especially if the children are younger and singing from memory.
  5. Keep the tempo bright.  You’ll hold the attention of both your singers and listeners better that way.
  6. Use props.  Santa Claus hats, jingle bells, and other instruments are both visually and aurally stimulating.
  7. But don’t go overboard.  If you’re caroling in a nursing home as I will be today, don’t bring in cymbals and other over-the-top noisemakers.  Be mindful of the environment.
  8. Make it clear that you want audience participation (if that’s the case, which is usually true!).
  9. Don’t wear out your welcome.   Know in advance how long your group is expected to sing, or if it’s a surprise visit, keep it at 5-10 minutes (if that).  Again, knowing your audience and surroundings is key.
  10. HAVE FUN!  Your singing will be appreciated even if there are forgotten lyrics, out-of-tune moments, etc.

Are you doing any caroling this holiday season?  And do you have tips to add to this list?  If so, don’t keep them to yourself!  Please share them in the comments.  In the meantime, I need to dash through the snow over to the nursing home for my own caroling fun!