Christmas Weekend Competition

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that I enjoy hosting competitions. This weekend’s Christmas competition highlights three excellent Wintry publications, perfect for your studio if you’re a teacher or for your playing pleasure if you’re a student. All three publications have been released by Editions Musica Ferrum. If you’re new to this music publishing company, which has already been established for over 9 years and offers an array of interesting and exciting publications and composers, you may like to browse their website:

Two of the three publications included in today’s competition selection have been compiled,  arranged and written by renowned composers Barbara Arens and Alison Mathews. Both composers are already well-known to teachers and students, particularly those preparing for examinations, as many of their compositions have been included in all the major examination board syllabi, both in the UK and abroad.

Capturing the Spirit of Christmas is a lovely anthology of twelve traditional Christmas carols effectively arranged for the piano; six per composer. The collection includes favourites such as We Three Kings, Sussex Carol, Deck the Halls and Coventry Carol as well as lesser known gems, Maria Walks through Woods of Thorns and Render the Heavens. The publication contains informative programme notes, which include the texts, and I think they fall into the intermediate to early advanced level category.

You can hear some of the arrangements, here:

Capturing the Joy of Winter continues in a similar vein, except that all sixteen compositions are original pieces which have been based on folk music and songs; each composer has contributed eight works in total. You’ll be sure to enjoy the Wintry choices: Plum Blossom, Under the Mistletoe, The Winter Wood, Northern Lights, Eggnog and Hot Mulled Wine, and Frosty Morning, are just a few of the evocative titles.

I enjoyed playing through this volume particularly  and really appreciated the combination of two composers, and therefore, two different musical styles in one publication. Some pieces are delightfully minimalistic, whereas others are more complex, but they feature a contemporary, tuneful style making them perfect choices for piano students. Texts have been added to several pieces, as well as explanations, which often appear under the titles. These works are fairly short (around two pages in length) and they will probably appeal to those of approximately intermediate to early advanced level.

Enjoy a flavour of the music, here:

The final competition publication has been compiled and arranged by composer James Welburn. Star of Wonder spotlights ten famous carols including Ding Dong Merrily On High, Silent NightAway in a Manager and O Holy Night.

These arrangements fall into the late intermediate to advanced category, and would be super for students wanting to explore jazz-inspired styles – they are certainly great fun to play.

Hear a selection of pieces from the set by clicking on the link below:


I have one digital copy of each book to give away. To be in with a chance of winning, all you need to do is leave a festive comment in the comment box at the end of this blog post telling me which book you would prefer to win and why.  I will select all three winners on Monday evening (British time). Good luck!

Alternatively, you can purchase the music by clicking here.

Find out more about:

Barbara Arens

Alison Mathews

James Welburn


Melanie Spanswick has written and published a wide range of courses, anthologies, examination syllabuses, and text books, including Play it again: PIANO (published by Schott Music). This best-selling graded, progressive piano course contains a large selection of repertoire featuring a huge array of styles and genres, with copious practice tips and suggestions for every piece.

For more information, please visit the publications page, here.

19 Comments Add yours

  1. Garreth says:

    Merry exactly a month before Christmas Melanie!

    1. I know – good timing, I think!!

    2. Lynne says:

      I would love to learn to play pieces from Capturing the Joy of Winter… very evocative and an alternative to carols. We need to notice little things that bring joy in our everyday life. They would also complement some other pieces I play by another contemporary composer.. I love finding new music to play. Nadolig Llawen! Happy Christmas from Wales

  2. Mrs Julie Reeman says:

    I’d love to win the Capturing the Spirit of Christmas book as I’m always on the lookout for good arrangements of carols to play during Christmas services at church. I also just enjoy playing them myself, a good break from mince pie making and writing Christmas cards.

  3. Barbara Blakeslee says:

    Happy holidays, and thanks for introducing us to these great collections! I’d love to win Capturing the Spirit of Christmas. Beautiful arrangements.

    1. Louise Georgiades says:

      Hi Melanie, early festive greetings! If I were to judge a book by its cover it would be a hard decision as the Joy of Winter and Spirit of Christmas both have beautiful covers. I will opt for the Spirit of Christmas as I’m a bit bored of the same old carol book I’ve been playing for 30 years!

  4. Martin Bekaert says:

    Hi Melanie, very nice arrangements in both books. If I win then I don’t really have a preference and find them both challenging. Thank you very much for sharing.

  5. Renee says:

    Greeting from a warm and sunny Africa! Star of Wonder – definately reverberate best with our Christmas season of sun, outdoor living and long walks in nature, and of course ice-cream and icetea… the closest we will get to snow for Christmas.

  6. Kathryn Ogden says:

    Merry Christmas Melanie, I would like the Star of Wonder. I really enjoy alternative arrangements of well known Carols giving them some new life. I find these a great asset for Christmas performances and listeners appreciate a fresh take on something they might have already heard twenty times already that week.

  7. Helen Watson says:

    Greetings. I would like to win Capturing the Joy of Winter. I already play a lot of carols and this book would be something very different to help develop my playing.

  8. Vivienne Ronan says:

    Playing carols to avoid, starting my grade 8 pieces, the spirit of Christmas would give me the Christmas gift of some new skills as well as tunes to take into the new year and getting back into the groove.

  9. Joy Stephenson says:

    Advent Sunday today – great time to think about Christmas! I would love to win the Spirit of Christmas book – something new to start this year and then improve upon during next Christmas.

  10. Ratnakar Kamath says:

    I would prefer either of the 1st 2 because I am at intermediate level I think and hopefully I can make it to early advance by Christmas. In case I don’t get a copy anyway I think I will go ahead with one purchase if available in India. Your book, Melanie is expected through Amazon in another week’ s time.

  11. Stuart Garrick says:

    Happy Holidays! Capturing the Spirit of Christmas!

  12. Susan Wellings says:

    Hi Melanie, I’d love to win Star of Wonder as books of advanced Christmas Carols are relatively rare! Have a wonderful Christmas.

  13. I absolutely love the way the Carols are arranged in “Capturing the Spirit of Christmas” . The arrangements really make use of all ten fingers with pieces that flow and glide along musically. Technically and aesthetically they challenge the pianist to end up playing Carols that almost sounds orchestral in their musical make up. I would really love to sim a copy of these wonderful carols. Thank you

  14. Diane E.Napier says:

    Star of Wonder is the booklet I would love. I find Emmanuel chillingly beautiful and peaceful,

    I love the selection of classics and variations in tempo.

  15. Many thanks to all those who took part in this competition, which has now closed. 🙂

  16. All beautiful music. I’d particularly like the second book Joy of Winter as it would be lovely to have some original festive compositions and I like the mix of styles. Merry Christmas and good luck all 🎶🎶

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