"Sleigh Ride" at Home

The Omaha Symphony holiday concert is Omaha’s favorite tradition, and part of that tradition is "Sleigh Ride"! Normally, Resident and Principal Pops Conductor Ernest Richardson would invite two lucky kiddos onstage to make their debut with the orchestra, playing the jingle bells and the whip during this crowd-favorite number – but since our holiday celebration will take place from home this year, everyone can play along with the orchestra from wherever you are!

Director of Education and Community Engagement Liz Kendall Weisser recruited her own helpers to show you how you can play along with our percussionists from home!

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At-Home "Sleigh Ride" by Liz Kendall Weisser

Everyone knows Christmas magic and children believing power Santa’s sleigh. Normally, the Omaha Symphony would do their part to contribute to the Belief-O-Meter by inviting some friends up on stage to play the whipcrack and the sleigh bells along with the orchestra during Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride.” This year, we invite you to play along from your home! Here’s how:

No Prep: Be the whipcrack!

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This fun and (slightly dangerous!) percussion instrument looks like two boards connected on one end with a hinge... just like your arms and clapping hands!

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Make like Baby Shark, and get ready to play along when the Maestro cues Principal Percussion Rob O’Brien who plays the whipcrack! You can even change the dynamics, or how loud, your whipcrack sounds. To be a soft, gentle whipcrack, clap your hands like Baby Shark. To be loud and bold, use your whole arms like Daddy Shark. Notice how the sound changes when you try both just your hands and your whole arms. Which way is your favorite?

A Little Prep: Play the Jingle Bells!

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Percussion instruments make sound by shaking, scraping, or striking. The whipcrack makes noise by striking, and the sleigh bells are shaken to create sound. Looking closely, we observe that each bell makes sound when a teeny ball bounces around inside the bell.

Grab your grown up and head on a scavenger hunt for materials to make your very own shaker!

Here, we poured just a few lentils into a small container. Make sure to screw the lid on tight! Experiment with different vessels and filler to create all sorts of different tones for your sleigh bell shaker. Need some more ideas? Check out this video of Kitchen Percussion created this summer by Principal Percussionist Rob O’Brien.

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With a little creativity and a lot of practice, we can all be musicians right alongside our friends in the orchestra. Thanks for playing with us and helping us on our sleigh ride!