Last year, I shared some of my favourite Christmas piano books, so this year, with face-to-face lessons resuming, I thought it would be nice to share some of my favourite Christmas flute duet books. Flautists in particular have always enjoyed playing duets around Christmastime, and whilst there are many books on the market, these five are the ones I’ve returned to year on year.
1. Winter Duets to Keep You Warm at Night!
My experience is this book is not terribly well-known amongst flautists or flute teachers, but it’s a book I think should be far more widely used. The book contains five seasonal pieces in three arrangements, for all combinations of C an G flutes – piccolos, flutes, altos, basses and contrabasses. They have all been arranged by low flutes expert, Christine Potter.
The book is divided in to three sections:
- Both flutes in the same key
- C flutes on the top, G flutes on the bottom
- G flutes on the top, C flutes on the bottom
Unlike some of the other books I’ll discuss below, these aren’t easy duets. Most of them will require flautists to be of Grade 6 level and upwards. They are, however, beautiful arrangements. The focus is on seasonal classical pieces:
- Vivaldi: Winter Concerto
- Traditional: Ukrainian Bell Carol
- Tchaikovsky: ‘Love Theme’ from Romeo and Juliet
- Tchaikovsky: ‘Waltz of the Flowers’ from The Nutcracker
- Corelli: Christmas Eve Concerto
Whether you have other flutes at your disposal or not, these are nevertheless beautiful arrangements and well worth a look. If you do have access to low flutes or piccolo, I have found them especially imaginative to play with students as a way of introducing the to the other members of the flute family.
Winter Duets to Keep You Warm at Night! by Christine Potter, is self-published, ISBN 9781724006271, priced £15.17 (price can vary)
2. Me and You.. Jazzy Christmas Duets
If you’re after something a little jazzier, Rachael Forsyth has arranged eight carols for flautists of around Grades 1-2 level. Each of the duets is written with parts in both C and B flat. This means that they are suitable for most woodwind, string and brass instruments. This gives great flexibility, especially for those who are perhaps teaching in groups with multiple instruments.
The book includes jazzy arrangements of popular carols such as Good King Wenceslas (‘Good King Reggae’), Silent Night (‘Not So Silent Night’) and God Rest You Merry Gentlemen (‘Resting Jazzymen’). The arrangements are imaginative although players will benefit from a good feeling for jazz rhythms.
Another advantage of this book is that in the main, both parts are of equal difficulty, so whilst one part can be played by the teacher, they can also be played by students alone. If you’re after something a little different this year, this Christmas flute duet book could be just what you need.
Me and You.. Jazzy Christmas Duets by Rachael Forsyth, is published by Roo Records Music, priced £7.50.
3. Christmas Duets for Two Flute
If I had to choose a ‘go-to’ Christmas flute duet book, this would be it. It contains 21 traditional carols in simple arrangements suitable for flautists at Grades 1-3 level. Many of the popular carols are included, such as Away in a Manger, In the Bleak Mid-Winter, Joy to the World and Silent Night.
In some ways, there’s not much to say about this book, other than it does exactly what it says on the tin. It is worth noting that there are no dynamics and no articulation markings. For a book for a purpose such as this, I don’t find that a problem, and indeed, it gives players the opportunity put their own stamp on the pieces. The music is clearly presented and accessible.
Christmas Duets for Two Flutes by Amanda Oosthuizen, is published by Wild Music Publications, ISBN 9781502718556, priced £7.87 (price can vary)
4. Christmas Flute Basics
Strictly speaking, this isn’t purely a duet book, but I wanted to include it because it’s such a well thought out book. It contains a collection of fun and festive flute repertoire divided into 12 stages (for the 12 days of Christmas). The book includes solos (with piano accompaniment) and duets, as well as warm-ups, studies and improvisations to support the seasonal tunes. Some of the duets are also arranged for flute and clarinet offering some greater flexibility.
Again, many of the traditional Christmas carols are included, such as While Shepherds Watched, The First Nowell, We Three Kings and Ding Dong Merrily on High. But, I also think this book is worth a look as it includes some lesser-known carols such as Nöel Nouvelet, O Little One Sweet, Pat-a-Pan and Quem Pastores.
The book is really clearly laid out and it’s obvious a lot of thought has gone into the progression, linking pieces to theory and technique. Indeed, I’d expect nothing less when Paul Harris is at the helm.
Christmas Flute Basics by Paul Harris, is published by Faber Music, ISBN 0571540694, priced £8.50.
5. Christmas Double Act – Duets for Flute
If you’re looking for a Christmas flute duet book which includes some more popular songs, this might just be it. Christmas Double Act includes 36 songs arranged for two flutes. Whilst many popular carols are included such as Angels from the Realms of Glory, Deck the Hall and The Holly and the Ivy, popular Christmas songs are also represented such as Do You Hear What I Hear?, Winter Wonderland, Little Drummer Boy and Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.
Once again, most of these duets are likely to suit players of around Grades 1-4 standard. They do contain a few more musical ingredients such as dynamics and articulation, and the arrangements are effective. This book in particular is especially good value at approximately 19p per piece.
Christmas Double Act – Duets for Flute by Marian Hellen, is published by Kevin Mayhew, ISMN M570245130, priced £6.99.
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