Are you familiar with Carol Matz and her Interactive Piano Method?
Carol Matz’s Interactive Piano Method is unique for providing a corresponding, interactive online experience for students alongside their printed lesson books. If you’d like to learn more, you can read all about her method here on her website.
But in today’s blog post, I’d like to focus on Carol’s Christmas arrangements. After all, it’s that time of year when many of us are prepping Christmas music for our students!
Around this time last year, I purchased Carol’s Christmas Deluxe Collection, a bundle of 15 studio-licensed pieces. And let me tell you, it was such a lifesaver! It was exactly what I needed at the time, especially given that I was still teaching entirely online at that point. More on this collection later, below.
When I recently found out that Carol was getting ready to release a couple of new bundles this year, I reached out to her to collaborate for this blog post and give you the full scoop. 🙂 In this review, I’ll give you an overview of all of Carol’s Christmas music offerings as well as a limited-time promo code just for Color In My Piano readers. Read on.
1. Carol Matz’s Interactive Piano Method® Christmas Books
The first thing you should know is that Carol has written Christmas books to correspond with all the levels of her Interactive Piano Method series (1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, 3, and 4). These books can be ordered as either printed hardcopies or digital downloads that are licensed for single users (one print allowed). These are a great option for carefully leveled Christmas arrangements for your students. On her website, you’ll find sample pages so you can preview the quality of the arrangements in her books. You can check out the Interactive Piano Method Christmas books here.
If you scroll down to the bottom of that page, you’ll find a Studio-Licensed bundle called the Christmas Deluxe Collection. This is the bundle I mentioned earlier that I used extensively with my students last year. For this digital booklet (PDF), Carol has compiled a selection of 15 arrangements from across the various levels of her Christmas books. “Studio Licensed” means the purchasing teacher has permission for unlimited prints for your own students. This bundle also includes a set of accompaniment tracks (MP3) for students to play along with. And some of the pieces have notated teacher duets at the bottom of the pages.
The arrangements in the Christmas Deluxe Collection range from easy Pre-Reading to Early Intermediate. There are some really pretty arrangements; in particular, I appreciate her Early Intermediate arrangements of Silent Night and O Holy Night. My students have enjoyed those as well as Deck the Halls and the Ukrainian Bell Carol (aka Carol of the Bells).
The Christmas Deluxe Collection bundle is an amazing value, and a great way to incorporate Carol’s music into your teaching! I’d highly recommend this bundle to any piano teacher. You can view sample pages or make a purchase on Carol’s website here.
2. Additional Christmas Arrangements
Carol has a variety of additional Christmas arrangements available — both single pieces and bundles — that are Studio Licensed. Examples include the “Easy Jazzy Christmas” bundle (Late Elementary), a handy “Jingle Bells Studio Packet” containing Jingle Bells arranged at five different levels, and a couple of Tchaikovsky Nutcracker bundles. These are definitely worth checking out, especially if you are really into Studio Licensed music. I plan to use a bunch of these pieces with my students this year!
Check out the page of Additional Christmas Arrangements here.
3. Carol Matz’s Studio Packs
Carol’s Studio Packs are a new release. Studio Packs are Studio-Licensed “enhanced PDFs” containing images, links, and lesson material corresponding to each arrangement. They are designed to provide ways for students to dig deeper, discover, and create, whether you are teaching in-person or online lessons. Orchestrated MP3 backing tracks and teaching tips videos are also included.
As you can see in the screenshot above, there are two Classics Studio Packs available and two Christmas Studio Packs (released just this week!). There is an Elementary pack and an Intermediate Pack. Each pack contains five arrangements of Christmas songs.
Note for in case you want to buy both the Studio Packs and the Christmas Deluxe Collection: there is TINY bit of overlap between them. One arrangement from the Christmas Deluxe Collection also exists in each Studio Pack. I still think both bundles are worthwhile, especially since the Studio Packs provide the extra links and lesson material.
Carol’s arrangements are great, and those of you who enjoy interactive digital assignments will probably consider these Studio Packs gold! I plan to try them out with my students this year. Check out them out here.
Tips for Printing and Teacher Organization
To keep myself organized especially for teaching online lessons, I always print myself a hardcopy of any studio-licensed materials I purchase. For example, last year I printed out the PDF for Carol Matz’s Christmas Deluxe Collection double-sided on paper. Then, I used heavier cardstock paper to reprint the front cover and provide a blank cover for the back. This definitely helps make the packet more durable so I can use it as a reference from year to year.
Then, I use a high capacity stapler to “bind” the book together. This might seem random…but I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned my high capacity stapler here on my blog so allow me a moment to sing its praises! It’s just like a normal stapler, except for the fact that the high capacity staples allow you to comfortably staple up to 60 sheets. It works like a dream, and I use it all the time. If you think you might find it useful, I definitely recommend getting one. There are certain times when I like to go to Office Max to have projects professionally spiral bound, but there are other times when my high capacity stapler is all I need.
You can find the Swingline high capacity stapler I have here and refill high capacity staples can be found here. Please note: The Amazon links in this post are affiliate links. Thanks so much for supporting my blog!
As far as digital organization goes… I maintain a folder on my computer called “Sheet Music.” Inside that, there is a sub-folder for “Christmas.” I always rename the files of any PDF sheet music to reflect the composer’s last name first and then the title of the work. For example: “MATZ – Christmas Deluxe Collection.” I definitely recommend organizing your files as you go so you can hopefully find things when you need them!
Bottom Line (and a Promo Code for 20% Off)
Thanks for reading this far! I hope you’ll consider checking out Carol’s Christmas pieces for your piano students. I really do like Carol’s style of arranging. The lower-level arrangements sound true to the original tune and manage to incorporate some harmonic elements while remaining manageable for the student. The upper-level arrangements begin to sound like true arrangements and introduce some very nice textural and expressive challenges for students.
Carol has generously offered to provide a promo code just for my readers, and I hope you’ll take advantage of it! The limited time special is for 20% off ALL of Carol’s self-published Christmas music available on her website — including the brand new Christmas Studio Packs. During checkout on Carol’s website, just be sure to enter the promo code JOY20 to get the discount (expires October 31, 2021 at midnight). Click here to browse Carol’s music.
Thanks for reading my review, and a big thank you goes to Carol for the wonderful Christmas arrangements! We piano teachers sure appreciate having such a wide variety of great music to teach our students. 🙂
Your turn: Have you enjoyed using any of Carol Matz’s music with your students? What other Christmas books do you use with your students? I’d love to hear what you have to say! Please leave a comment.