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    Tuneful Tips for a Holly, Jolly, Holiday Season


    New Prague, MN (October 10, 2001)

     For many people, holidays and music go together like Rudolph and his shiny nose. Whether we’re decking halls or jingling bells, the familiar melodies of the season help set the stage for memorable time spent with family and friends.

    Piano playing brothers Tim and Ryan O’Neill are especially aware of what music brings to the holiday season. The O’Neill Brothers have released three popular albums of instrumental holiday music, and their annual holiday concert tours draw thousands of fans looking to hear the sounds of the season. Their latest holiday CD, Coming Home (, features favorite holiday songs such as I’ll be Home for Christmas, The Holly and the Ivy and White Christmas.

    “We spent a lot of time thinking about the musical traditions in our family when we were recording Coming Home,” says Tim O’Neill. “That’s what the holidays are all about – being with family and friends in a place that means a lot, and doing things that you love. To us, that means music.”

    Holiday songs date back to the Fourth Century, and through the years they’ve developed into one of our most popular seasonal traditions. “There are many more creative ways to enjoy music throughout the holidays than just playing a favorite album,” says Ryan O’Neill. Here are some tips to make beautiful music this holiday season:

    Go digital. Instead of a traditional card, record and send a high-tech family holiday CD, or create a festive digital video or audio file to post on your family’s web site.

    Dust off an old musical tradition, or create a new one. Gather the whole family and attend a performance of A Christmas Carol or the Nutcracker. These classics are a great way to kick off the holiday season.

    Don’t overlook the tried and true traditions. Bundle up a group of family and friends, break out the hot chocolate and go caroling through the neighborhood.

    Weave holiday music into everyday life. Re-record your voicemail or answering machine message to incorporate holiday tunes in the background. You can even change your doorbell to play a familiar holiday melody.

    Organize a music and cookie exchange. Throw a party and ask guests to bring a dozen cookies and a CD of their favorite holiday music. That way each person leaves with a plate of cookies -- and a new album they may have never heard before.

    Get involved. Gather a group and sing or play at a nursing home or hospital. Music can be wonderfully therapeutic. Or volunteer at a soup kitchen or a music-themed fundraiser or event.

    Get personal. Instead of mailing them, hand-deliver cards and gifts to family and friends within driving distance. Don’t forget to play holiday music on the car stereo. Or create hand-made musical gifts. “One Christmas, our family decided to make all of our gifts to each other,” says Tim O’Neill. “Some of them were great, some were hilarious. Instead of exchanging them in the traditional way, we auctioned them off among our family and donated the money to charity.”

    Take the stage. Participate in a holiday pageant at a place or worship or school. What’s more heartwarming than watching a group of children sing while wearing bathrobes and cotton ball beards?

    Have fun. Put on a family variety show or talent contest. Encourage everyone to participate, whether or not they’re musically inclined. The funniest or most touching memories will come from people who don’t ordinarily sing or play.

    The O’Neill Brothers’ music is available at hundreds of gift shops, grocery stores and department stores across the country, by calling their toll-free music hotline, 1-888-966-3455, or through their web site,