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EDU 109 - Music for the Young Child - Textbook

Chapter 9 | Music and the Older Child

  • Students will be able to explore the uses of music with older elementary-aged children.
  • Students will be able to select a song in the proper singing range of the older child.

Music and the Older Child

Chapter Summary: This chapter explores the uses of music with older elementary-aged children. It covers their vocal ranges, preparation for multi-part singing including echo songs, ostinato patterns, drone and multi-part performing including polyphony (multiple melodies) such as rounds, partner songs, harmony and descants, as well as other age-appropriate repertoire such as cumulative songs, play-party songs, and African-American songs.

Older children, ages 6 and up, have listened to a great deal of musical material in their short lives. The songs and sounds they’ve absorbed are part of western musical style, and are now part of the musical lingua franca or the music that is “normal” for them. They’re familiar with the musical genres, timbres, modes, and instruments, rhythmic and melodic patterns, and have learned the culturally acceptable cadences, harmonies, texture, and so forth. The lower to middle elementary-aged child is ready for more complex listening, singing, and music making. This chapter will offer music suggestions to inspire older children, including cultural games, songs, and dances.

I. Singing Voices of Older Children

Developmental Abilities

Just as children’s aptitude to learn a foreign language stabilizes after the age of 9, Music researcher Edwin Gordon (2007) found that children’s musical aptitude is also developmental, fluctuating until age 9, and stabilizing afterwards. This doesn’t mean that children can’t learn music after the age of 9, of course, but that the language of musical enculturation is well under way by that age. It is important to keep in mind that a rich musical environment at home and at school will greatly benefit a child’s musical and cognitive abilities at any age.

In terms of the voice, both boys and girls should remain singing in their head voice or falsetto. Falsetto is a light, high, head voice that is not pushed, yelled, or forced in any way. Younger boys can switch easily into falsetto or head voice, as their voices have not yet begun to change. A good falsetto produces a clear, clean “boy’s choir” type of sound, and is where children should try to sing in order to maintain a healthy voice.

Singing Ranges for Older Children

As we recall from the previous chapter, children’s singing ranges expand year by year. Older children may have an expanded vocal range, but it is important to remember that the pitches that are most comfortable to sing are in the middle of their range.

Six to Eight Years Old

Grades first through third, or six to eight-year-olds, can sing about an octave from C to C’, with their most comfortable notes from E to G.

Treble clef with eight notes C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C. E, F, G are marked as most comfortable notes.

Eight to Eleven Years Old

Children aged eight to eleven can sing from the B flat below middle C to about an E flat or E, 3 notes above high C’. Their most comfortable notes are between D and G.

Treble clef with eleven notes B flat, C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C. D, E, and D, E, F, G  are marked as most comfortable notes.

Selecting a Song in the Proper Singing Range

When selecting a song for older children, first check the pitch range appropriate for the child given the guidelines above. Most of the notes of the song should match the child’s most comfortable pitches right in the middle of their range. Children start to become weaker when singing around middle C. Try to avoid songs that sit in a lower range such as middle C or D, and instead pitch or place the song slightly higher up around E, F and G. Most of the songs in this book are transposed to the key of F so that most of the pitches of the song are around the tonic, or F.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that where an adult feels most comfortable singing, is probably not where the child feels most comfortable. Remember that many times, classroom teachers pitch the song in their own range, not thinking about where the song would work best for the children, and children struggle to sing well.

Activity 9A

Try this

Select the notation below that best fits the vocal ranges for children ages 3, 4 and 5. How about 6-8? 8-11?

If You’re Happy and You Know It (Keys of E flat Major, C Major, F Major)

Eb Major
Key of Eb. Time Signature 4/4. Pick up to first two measures of "If You're Happy and You Know It."

 

Key of Eb. Time Signature 4/4. Pick up to second two measures of "If You're Happy and You Know It."

 

Key of Eb. Time Signature 4/4. Pick up to third two measures of

 

Key of Eb. Time Signature 4/4. Pick up to fourth two measures of

 

C Major
Key of C. Time Signature 4/4. Pick up to first two measures of If You're Happy and You Know It.

 

Key of C. Time Signature 4/4. Pick up to second two measures of If You're Happy and You Know It.

 

Key of C. Time Signature 4/4. Pick up to third two measures of If You're Happy and You Know It.

 

Key of C. Time Signature 4/4. Pick up to fourth two measures of If You're Happy and You Know It.
F Major
Key of F. Time Signature 4/4. Pick up to first two measures of If You're Happy and You Know It.

 

Key of F. Time Signature 4/4. Pick up to second two measures of If You're Happy and You Know It.

 

Key of F. Time Signature 4/4. Pick up to third two measures of If You're Happy and You Know It.

 

Key of F. Time Signature 4/4. Pick up to fourth two measures of If You're Happy and You Know It.

II. Advanced Musical Experiences

Beginning at around eight years of age, children are ready for more advanced musical experiences vocally, instrumentally, and theoretically, and more complex musical subject matter. This section will explore different types of songs appropriate for older children, and the process for introducing more complex musical experiences.

Repertoire

Most of us are surrounded by pop music culture, and children at this age are particularly aware of and influenced by the pop scene. They hear pop music, watch singing competition shows on television, have pop idols, and want to sing pop music. The challenge with older children is their desire to vocally imitate the pop singing style. This music, of course, is very familiar and accessible to them, and it is only normal that they are inspired by and want to mimic their favorite pop star. However, keep in mind that a child’s vocal apparatus is still developing, and imitating adult singing with scoops, chest voice, or belting is affected singing and not natural. Not only does it inhibit the child’s sense of ownership of their own vocal instrument and musicality, it also inhibits their ability to explore the natural timbre of their own voices, and find their own unique musical style. These songs are intended for adult voices, and are often out of the comfortable singing range of children. Belting or pushing a developing voice too far can be detrimental to the child’s voice, and can result in permanent damage.

Subject Matter

Luckily, there is an enormous children’s repertoire of songs, including folk songs, historical songs, play party songs, story and game songs, classical pieces, and popular songs written for children’s voices with subject matters that appeal to their developing sense of morality and worldview, and are steeped with sociohistorical meaning.

Many songs for older elementary children are highly appropriate for use in the classroom curriculum, including core subject songs (math, social studies, science), national songs, cultural and historical songs, language arts songs, holiday songs, etc. The songs presented in this book are folk and popular songs, some of which are not only historically important, but culturally significant as well. These songs are part of a potentially rich musical experience for the child—exposing them to material with inherent sociocultural meaning that can contribute to excellent lessons and, most importantly, enhance integration activities.

Multiple Part Performance: Introducing Texture and Layers

By the age of seven or eight, children are ready for some type of vocal multiple part performing. Multi-part performing includes both instrumental and vocal music making, and can refer to the performance of more than one melody at the same time (i.e. a round), vocal harmony, or any type of accompaniment. Playing two or more parts on instruments is far easier and children can begin this type of multi-part performance much earlier. Vocally, however, children find it quite difficult to sustain their own vocal part against that of another singer or singers before the age of 8.

Multi-part performance in either the vocal or instrumental milieu is cognitively beneficial, and will increase a child’s musical competence. Older children appreciate and are capable of singing complex songs, particularly those that include multiple parts and simple harmony. Musical texture (performing multiple lines of music simultaneously) not only creates more intricate and interesting music, but it provides significant cognitive benefits. Multi-part performance of any kind requires the child to focus intensely on their part, training the brain to produce one part while acknowledging additional auditory stimuli coming from the other parts. The brain then must process the whole piece at once while still remaining focused on the one performing part.

Children, who may not yet ready for harmony, can be prepped for harmony at much earlier ages through the use of layered speech pieces, rhythmic instrumental or vocal patterns (see ostinato below). Keep in mind that children are performing in multiple parts even when they are singing a song and doing any other simultaneous activity such as tapping the beat, playing a pattern on an instrument or performing body percussion (snapping, stomping). Any rhyme can be made more complex by adding a body percussion pattern or simple instrument pattern.

Deedle Deedle Dumpling

English nursery rhyme

4/4 Time Signature. First four measures of a four part body percussion piece. Speech, Snap, Clap, and one more part labled P.

 

4/4 Time Signature. Second four measures of a four part body percussion piece. Speech, Snap, Clap, and one more part labled P.

 

4/4 Time Signature. Last two measures of a four part body percussion piece. Speech, Snap, Clap, and one more part labled P.

Any familiar song can be used to teach two parts, such as taking a simple melody and adding a vocal ostinato. The song “A Ram Sam Sam,” for example, is a traditional Moroccan folk song that contains many simple repeating patterns. Begin by learning the song and performing it in unison. Then sing several times as a two part round.

A Ram Sam Sam

Traditional Morrocan folk round

F Major. 4/4 Time Signature. Pick up to first 2.5 measures of A Ram Sam Sam.

 

F Major. 4/4 Time Signature. Pick up to secon three measures of A Ram Sam Sam.

 

F Major. 4/4 Time Signature. Last two measures of A Ram Sam Sam.

 

Creating ostinati patterns

Ostinati are short patterns, repeated persistently throughout a piece often at the same pitch. Ostinati (pl. of ostinato) can be either vocal or rhythmic. The easiest way to find an ostinato is to take a short pattern right from the song itself. Ostinati can also be composed. Using short patterns from the song is a simple way to create vocal or rhythmic ostinati. Start by finding a short, simple, fun or interesting pattern in the song. An ostinato can be performed using body percussion, instruments or with the voice.

If the children are not ready to sing the song with a sung vocal ostinato, begin by chanting the song as a speech piece and adding one or more speech ostinato patterns.

A Ram Sam Sam (Speech with one ostinato)

Begin with a simple ostinato. In this case, the rhythm of the very last phrase “Ram Sam Sam” (ta ta ta rest), works very well. Have children clap and say the words simultaneously.

 

Two additional ostinati for this song with more complex rhythms include “ra-fiq a ra-fiq” (“ta-a ta, ta ta-a ta”) or “gu-li gu-li gu-li gu-li” (ti ti ti ti ti ti ti ti). Have children clap and say their ostinati. Notice, however, that “a ra-fiq” begins on a pickup beat, which can be tricky for entrances. To avoid that, begin with “ra” on the downbeat so that both ostinati (ra-fiq and gu-li gu-li) begin in simultaneously.

 

 

Divide the class into four equal parts, one group chanting and clapping the “melody” rhythm and the other three chanting and clapping the ostinati. After a few times through, have the students drop the chanting and perform the piece using clapping only.

A Ram Sam Sam (Speech with vocal ostinato)

F Major. 4/4 Time Signature. Pick up to first 2.5 measures of A Ram Sam Sam. This score has four vocal parts. First labled melody and the others labled ostinato 1-3.

 

F Major. 4/4 Time Signature. Pick up to second three measures of A Ram Sam Sam. This score has four vocal parts. First labled melody and the others labled ostinato 1-3.

 

F Major. 4/4 Time Signature. Last two measures of A Ram Sam Sam. This score has four vocal parts. First labled melody and the others labled ostinato 1-3.

 

Depending on the level of the class, the switch to singing the song with all of its ostinati can be done all at once or by using a combination of spoken and sung. Using a combined approach, begin by having the melody group sing the melody, while the ostinati groups come in one at a time using speech only.

A Ram Sam Sam (With one ostinato)

F Major. 4/4 Time Signature. Pick up to first 2.5 measures of A Ram Sam Sam. This score has two vocal parts. First labled melody and the other labled ostinato 1.

 

F Major. 4/4 Time Signature. Pick up to second three measures of A Ram Sam Sam. This score has two vocal parts. First labled melody and the other labled ostinato 1.

 

F Major. 4/4 Time Signature. Last two measures of A Ram Sam Sam. This score has two vocal parts. First labled melody and the other labled ostinato 1.

 

Gradually add the other two ostinati patterns, one at a time.

A Ram Sam Sam (With two ostinati)

F Major. 4/4 Time Signature. Pick up to first 2.5 measures of A Ram Sam Sam. This score has three vocal parts. First labeled melody and the other two labled ostinato 1 and ostinato 2.

 

F Major. 4/4 Time Signature. Pick up to second three measures of A Ram Sam Sam. This score has three vocal parts. First labeled melody and the other two labled ostinato 1 and ostinato 2.

 

F Major. 4/4 Time Signature. Last two measures of A Ram Sam Sam. This score has three vocal parts. First labeled melody and the other two labled ostinato 1 and ostinato 2.

 

A Ram Sam Sam (With three ostinati)

F Major. 4/4 Time Signature. Pick up to first 2.5 measures of A Ram Sam Sam. This score has four vocal parts. First labeled melody and the other three labled ostinato 1-3

 

F Major. 4/4 Time Signature. Pick up to second three measures of A Ram Sam Sam. This score has four vocal parts. First labeled melody and the other three labled ostinato 1-3

 

F Major. 4/4 Time Signature. Last two measures of A Ram Sam Sam. This score has four vocal parts. First labeled melody and the other three labled ostinato 1-3

 

Move from using rhythmic ostinati to melodic ones. Be sure to have them learn the song very well before adding a sung ostinato. Divide the group in half and have half sing “Ram Sam Sam” while the other half sings the melody. These are examples of pitched ostinati that are taken directly from the melody of song (measures 2 and 9). The easier of the two is 1a, but if the class is advanced, use 1b.

Vocal Ostinato ex. 1a
F Major. 4/4 Time Signature. One measure that shows measure one of ostinato 1
Vocal Ostinato ex. 1b
F Major. 4/4 Time Signature. One measure that shows measure two of ostinato 1

 

The other two ostinati can also be sung. For more advanced groups, try dividing into three parts, with the melody in one part and sung ostinati in the other groups.

Vocal Ostinato #2

 

F Major. 4/4 Time Signature. One measure that shows measure one of ostinato 2.
Vocal Ostinato #3

 

F Major. 4/4 Time Signature. One measure that shows measure one of ostinato 3.

A Ram Sam Sam (With three sung ostinati)

F Major. 4/4 Time Signature. Pick up to first 2.5 measures of A Ram Sam Sam. This score has four vocal parts and are sung ostinatos. First labeled melody and the other three labled ostinato 1-3

 

F Major. 4/4 Time Signature. Pick up to second three measures of A Ram Sam Sam. This score has four vocal parts and are sung ostinatos. First labeled melody and the other three labled ostinato 1-3

 

F Major. 4/4 Time Signature. Last two measures of A Ram Sam Sam. This score has four vocal parts and are sung ostinatos. First labeled melody and the other three labled ostinato 1-3

 

Note: In order for the harmony to work with the song, the pitches for “gu-li gu-li” need to be changed in measures 3 and 7 to a “Bb” rather than “A.” If this is too difficult, remain on the “A.”

Drone

A drone is usually a single pitch, usually held or repeated underneath a melody. The simplest type of accompaniment is to add a single note drone to a melody. Songs such as “Amazing Grace,” “Bow, Wow, Wow,” “Tideo,” are all pentatonic songs that work well with a drone accompaniment. Drones can also be several pitches, but they repeat throughout all or most of a song. Children may be tempted to speak or chant the drone part, but it is important that they sing it, maintaining a constant pitch and good tone.

Tideo

Traditional American play party song

C Major. 2/4 Time signature. First four measures of 2 part vocal piece Tideo. First part labeled melody and second drone. The drone repeats the C note throughout.

 

C Major. 2/4 Time signature. Second five measures of 2 part vocal piece, Tideo. First part labeled melody and second drone. The drone repeats the C note throughout.

 

C Major. 2/4 Time signature. Last three measures of 2 part vocal piece, Tideo. First part labeled melody and second drone. The drone repeats the C note throughout.

More complex part singing

Older children are ready for singing in two, three and four parts, and also performing on instruments layering many different patterns together. In singing, there are two types of basic part-singing appropriate for children: polyphony and harmony.

Polyphony is a word that refers to multiple independent lines of music sung at the same time. Polyphony can happen in many different ways. Rounds and partner songs are two good examples of polyphony.

In a round, all of the voices are singing the same melody but at slightly different times, and in a partner song each part is singing a different melody. The important element is that all of the parts or “voices” are equal, and there isn’t a single dominant melodic line. Although we associate rounds with children, there are many complex and lengthy rounds with more serious topics for adults.

Rounds

Rounds or canons have been around for hundreds of years, and play a significant role in European and American society. Group singing played a major role in society, for emotional expression, entertainment, social cohesion, and so forth. In a round, everyone contributes equally in terms of melody. The oldest polyphonic song known is the Medieval English song “Sumer Is Icumen In” dated from the mid-13th century. This round, which is about the arrival of summer, actually has two “melodic ostinati,” which are known as “grounds,” at the end, which can be sung along with the melody.

Sumer Is Icumin In

Medieval English song, 13th century

F Major. 12/8 Time Signature. First two measures of treble clef single melody song Sumer Is Icumin In.

 

F Major. 12/8 Time Signature. Second three measures of treble clef single melody song Sumer Is Icumin In.

 

F Major. 12/8 Time Signature. Third two measures of treble clef single melody song Sumer Is Icumin In.

 

F Major. 12/8 Time Signature. Fourth two measures of treble clef single melody song Sumer Is Icumin In.

 

F Major. 12/8 Time Signature. Fifth three measures of treble clef single melody song Sumer Is Icumin In.

 

F Major. 12/8 Time Signature. Two measure Ostinato in Sumer Is Icumin In. Labeled Ostinato 1.

 

F Major. 12/8 Time Signature. Two measure Ostinato in Sumer Is Icumin In. Labeled Ostinato 2.

 

More simple rounds that most people know include: “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” “Frère Jacques,” and “Scotland’s Burning.”

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

American folk song and round, 1852

C Major. 6/8 Time Signature. First four measure of Row, Row, Row Your Boat.

 

C Major. 6/8 Time Signature. Last four measure of Row, Row, Row Your Boat.

 

Frère Jacques

French folk round, 18th century

F Major 4/4 Time Signature. First four measure of Frere Jacques.

 

F Major 4/4 Time Signature. Last four measure of Frere Jacques.

 

Scotland’s Burning

Traditional American round, 19th century

F Major 2/4 Time Signature. First four measure of Scotland's Burning.

 

F Major 2/4 Time Signature. Last four measure of Scotland's Burning.

 

More complex rounds include: “Oh How Lovely Is the Evening,” “Dona Nobis Pacem,” “Hey, Ho, Nobody Home,” which is in minor, and “Viva la Musica,” a 16th century round written by the Renaissance composer Giovanni Palestrina.

Oh, How Lovely

German folk round

 

F Major 3/4 Time Signature. First six measure of  Oh, How Lovely.
F Major 3/4 Time Signature. Second six measure of  Oh, How Lovely.

 

F Major 3/4 Time Signature. Last six measure of  Oh, How Lovely.

 

Dona Nobis Pacem

Text from “Lamb of God,” Latin Mass

F Major 3/4 Time Signature. First six measures of Dona Nobis Pacem.

 

F Major 3/4 Time Signature. Second six measures of Dona Nobis Pacem.

 

F Major 3/4 Time Signature. Third six measures of Dona Nobis Pacem.

 

F Major 3/4 Time Signature. Last six measures of Dona Nobis Pacem.

 

Hey Ho, Nobody Home

Chrismas round

 

G Measure. 4/4 Time Signature. First three measures of Hey Ho, Nobody Home.
G Measure. 4/4 Time Signature. Last three measures of Hey Ho, Nobody Home.

 

Viva la Musica!

Michael Praetorius (1571-1621)

F Measure. 4/4 Time Signature. Six measures of the song Viva la Musica!

 

Partner songs

Partner songs are another way to experience multiple-part (polyphonic) singing. In a partner song, two or more songs, which are musically compatible, are sung together. Similar to a round, everyone contributes a melody. Partner songs are slightly more challenging to sing in that they use different melodies. A good example is the song “One Bottle of Pop” in which three separate melodies work well together.

One Bottle of Pop

D Major. 3/4 Time Signature. First four measures of song One Bottle of Pop.

 

D Major. 3/4 Time Signature. Second four measures of song One Bottle of Pop.

 

D Major. 3/4 Time Signature. First four measures of song Fish and Chips and Vinegar.

 

D Major. 3/4 Time Signature. Second four measures of song Fish and Chips and Vinegar.

 

D Major. 3/4 Time Signature. First four measures of song Don't Throw Your Trash.

 

D Major. 3/4 Time Signature. Second four measures of song Don't Throw Your Trash.

 

Below are some additional examples of individual songs and their potential “partners” that blend well and go together. The songs “This Old Man,” “Skip to My Lou,” “Shoo Fly,” “Bow Belinda,” and “Sandy Land,” for example, are all able to be sung simultaneously.

This Old Man

English game song, 19th century

F Major. 2/4 Time Signature. First four measures of This Old Man.

 

F Major. 2/4 Time Signature. Last four measures of This Old Man.

Skip to My Lou

Traditional American play party song

F Major. 2/4 Time Signature. First four measures of Skip to My Lou.

 

F Major. 2/4 Time Signature. Last four measures of Skip to My Lou.

Shoo Fly

American folk song, 1863

F Major. 2/4 Time Signature. First four measures of Shoo Fly.

 

F Major. 2/4 Time Signature. Second four measures of Shoo Fly.

 

F Major. 2/4 Time Signature. Third four measures of Shoo Fly.

 

F Major. 2/4 Time Signature. Last four measures of Shoo Fly.

Bow Belinda

F Major. 2/4 Time Signature. First four measures of Bow Belinda.

 

F Major. 2/4 Time Signature. Last four measures of Bow Belinda.

Sandy Land

Traditional folk song, Texas

F Major. 2/4 Time Signature. First four measures of Sandy Land.

 

F Major. 2/4 Time Signature. Last four measures of Bow Belinda.

 

This Old Man and Sandy Land

F Major. 2/4 Time Signature. Two part song. First four measures of This Old Man simultaneous with Sandy Land.

 

F Major. 2/4 Time Signature. Two part song. Last four measures of This Old Man simultaneous with Sandy Land.

 

Bow Belinda and This Old Man

F Major. 2/4 Time Signature. Two part song. First four measures of Bow Belinda simultaneous with This Old Man.

 

F Major. 2/4 Time Signature. Two part song. Last four measures of Bow Belinda simultaneous with This Old Man.

 

All of the songs together:

Bow Belinda, This Old Man, Shoo Fly, Sandy Land

F Major. 2/4 Time Signature. 4 part vocal song. First four measures of Bow Belinda, This Old Man, Shoo Fly, and Sandy Land.

 

F Major. 2/4 Time Signature. 4 part vocal song. Last four measures of Bow Belinda, This Old Man, Shoo Fly, and Sandy Land.

 

List of children’s songs and partner songs

The list below consists of suggested songs that work well when sung together. Each box represents a group of songs that can be sung in pairs as partner songs, or even layered as three or more songs.

Partner songs: groups of commonly known songs that can be paired or layered.

Row, Row, Row, Your Boat

Here Comes a Bluebird

Frere Jacques/Are you Sleeping?

Three Blind Mice

London Bridge

The Old Grey Mare

Mary Had a Little Lamb

Merrily We Roll Along

Boola, Boola

The Farmer in the Dell

Here We Go Looby Loo

Go Tell Aunt Rhody

Hot Cross Buns

Where is Thumbkin?

He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands

Rock-a My Soul

Bow Belinda

Sandy Land

This Old Man

10 Little Indians

Skip to My Lou

Paw, Paw Patch

Mulberry Bush

Oh, Dear, What Can the Matter Be?

Irish Washerwoman

Liza Jane

Old Brass Wagon

Michael Finnegan

Good Night Ladies

Pickalittle, Talkalittle (Music Man)

When the Saints Go Marching In

Swing Low Sweet Chariot

This Train

Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen

Gospel Train

She’ll be Comin’ Round the Mountain

All Night, All Day

Rock-a My Soul

Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho

Hey Ho, Nobody Home

When Johnny Comes Marching Home

Wondrous Love

Kookaburra

Wade in the Water

Juanita

Santa Lucia

Bicycle Built for Two

Sidewalks of New York

In the Good Old Summertime

Arkansas Traveler

Oh, Susanna

Turkey in the Straw

Camptown Races (verse)

Humoresque

Old Folks at Home

Put on Your Old Gray Bonnet

Child of God

Mary Had a Baby

Sing Hallelu

One Bottle of Pop

Don’t put your Dust

Fish and Chips and Vinegar

My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean (refrain)

Cielito Lindo (refrain)

Man on the Flying Trapeze

Home on the Range

My Home’s in Montana

Old Texas

Old Chisholm Trail

Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-De-Ay

Long, Long Ago

All Night, All Day

Swing Low Sweet Chariot

I Love the Mountains

Heart and Soul

Bluetail Fly (refrain)

Shoo Fly (refrain)

Dixie

Yankee Doodle

Zum Gali Gali

Shalom Chavarim

I am a Poor Wayfaring Stranger

Scarborough Fair

Land of the Silver Birch

My Paddle

Be Bow Wow Wow

Hot Cross Buns

Sally Go Round the Sun

See Saw, Margery Daw

We Wish You a Merry Christmas

O Christmas Tree

Mango Walk

Sweet Potatoes

Lida Rose (Music Man)

Will I Ever Tell You?

Go Tell It on the Mountain

Some Folks Do

Mr. Frog Went A-Courtin’

Goin’ Down to Cairo

Jubilate (Hark! The Vesper Bells are Ringing)

Chumbara

Haul Away Joe

Early in the Morning

Hush-a-bye

Lullaby

What Shall We Do with a Drunken Sailor

Sinner Man

Sing a Song of Peace

This is My Country

Little Red Caboose

Sourwood Mountain

Harmony

After success singing rounds and partner songs, children may be ready to sing in harmony. Harmony is the sounding of two notes simultaneously. When singing harmony, one voice usually has the melody and is dominant, while the harmony parts take a “back seat” so to speak. The melody notes are usually the highest notes, with the harmony supporting underneath. Singing in harmony is quite a bit more challenging than partner songs or rounds.

Harmony lines are often the interval of a third (3rd) or a sixth (6th) below the melody line. Singing a 3rd or 6th away from the melody is very challenging, as the tendency is for singers to slip from their parts into unison with the melody.

Preparation for vocal harmony

Singing a drone is excellent preparation for harmony (see “Tideo” above). Here is a scale warm-up that also helps prepare students to hold onto their part against another moving part.

Warm-up for Harmony

N. Sarrazin

C Major. 4/4 Time Signature. Two part vocal song. First three measures of Warm-up for Harmony

 

C Major. 4/4 Time Signature. Two part vocal song. Second three measures of Warm-up for Harmony

 

C Major. 4/4 Time Signature. Two part vocal song. Last two measures of Warm-up for Harmony

Sarasponda

Attributed as a Dutch spinning song

C Major. 4/4 Time Signature. Two part vocal song. Pick up to first two measures of Sarasponda.
C Major. 4/4 Time Signature. Two part vocal song. Second two measures of Sarasponda.
C Major. 4/4 Time Signature. Two part vocal song. Last three measures of Sarasponda.

Ah, Poor Bird (with harmony)

Elizabethan English round

Harmony N. Sarrazin

E minor. 2/4 Time signature. One treble clef with two parts. Eight measure song Ah, Poor Bird.

Descants are also a type of harmony, but are instead placed above the melody. Descants can have text, but are also sung on neutral syllables such as oh, or ah.

Ah, Poor Bird (with descant)

Elizabethan English round

Descant N. Sarrazin

C minor 2/4 Time Signature. Two treble clef vocal lines with a descant on ah on the top. 8 measure piece Ah, Poor Bird.

 

III. American Children’s Games and Game Songs

America’s folk heritage is rich with songs from many cultures. Folk songs such as play party songs, African-American songs, story songs, and dance-songs are all a part of American music history and are excellent opportunities to discuss history and the role of music in our culture. The lyrics to these songs contain literary and social references, and are rife for inclusion in the interdisciplinary classroom. The songs can also fit into other aspects of children’s lives and their school curriculum as well.

Many game songs originated in the Georgia Sea Islands, a series of over 100 islands off the coast of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. The Islands have a long and complex cultural history, but are most known for their rich African-American heritage as white plantation owners left the islands in the 19th century leaving their slaves behind. The result was the creation of a distinct Gullah/Creole language and culture, which can be found in many children’s games.

Draw Me a Bucket of Water

Georgia Sea Islands singing game

Groups of four: Couples facing each other grab both hands and sway back and forth to the beat while singing. The inside of the circle represents the “bucket.” As the numbers increase, a person is added to the bucket encircled by the clasped hands.

F Major. 4/4 Time signature. First four measures of Draw Me a Bucket.

 

F Major. 4/4 Time signature. Second four measures of Draw Me a Bucket.

 

F Major. 4/4 Time signature. Third four measures of Draw Me a Bucket.

 

F Major. 4/4 Time signature. Last four measures of Draw Me a Bucket.

 

Ridin’ in a Buggy

Traditional American play party song, South Carolina

C Major. 2/4 Time Signature. First four measures of Ridin' in a Buggy.

 

C Major. 2/4 Time Signature. Second four measures of Ridin' in a Buggy.

 

C Major. 2/4 Time Signature. Next six measures of Ridin' in a Buggy.

 

C Major. 2/4 Time Signature. Last two measures of Ridin' in a Buggy.

 

Oh! Susanna

American minstrel song

Stephen Foster, 1848

C Major. 4/4 Time signature. Pick up to first two measures of Oh! Susanna.

 

C Major. 4/4 Time signature. Pick up to second two measures of Oh! Susanna.

 

C Major. 4/4 Time signature. Last four measures of Oh! Susanna.

 

Doctor Knickerbocker

American game song

F Major. 4/4 Time signature. First three measures of Doctor Knickerbocker.

 

F Major. 4/4 Time signature. Second three measures of Doctor Knickerbocker.

 

F Major. 4/4 Time signature. Last three measures of Doctor Knickerbocker.

 

Here We Go Zudio

African American song

C Major. 4/4 Time signature. First three measures of Here We Go Zudio.

 

C Major. 4/4 Time signature. Second five measures of Here We Go Zudio.

 

 
C Major. 4/4 Time signature. Third four measures of Here We Go Zudio.

 

C Major. 4/4 Time signature. Fourth three measures of Here We Go Zudio.

 

C Major. 4/4 Time signature. Last three measures of Here We Go Zudio.

 

Play Party Games

Play parties are singing parties that evolved along with the rural frontier American experience. In the early 1800s in the southwestern and western states, there was a prohibition against playing musical instruments and dancing by certain religious organizations. Play parties were a way around this. They were a social activity in which young people sang songs while clapping, incorporating drama, and some swinging movements. Many songs we know such were play-party songs such as “Buffalo Gals,” “Skip to my Lou,” “Old Dan Tucker,” “Old Brass Wagon,” “Pop Goes the Weasel,” “Weevily Wheat,” and “B.I.N.G.O.”

The movements to “Old Brass Wagon” have children in a circle, basically following the instructions in the song. Everyone holds hands and circles to the left on the first verse, right on the second, etc.

Old Brass Wagon

Traditional American play party song

G Major. 2/4 Time signature. First three measures of Old Brass Wagon.

 

G Major. 2/4 Time signature. Last five measures of Old Brass Wagon.

 

The circle dance song “I’ve Been to Haarlem” requires a more sophisticated choreography. One child stands in the middle of a circle of partners who walk in a circle in promenade position. On the words “turn the glasses over,” the partner on the outside of the circle turns under the inside partner’s arms, thus changing direction. The partners let go, and circle in opposite directions until the words “lose your partner in the ocean.” On this last word “ocean” the child in the middle quickly rushes around trying to find a partner and leaving one child “out” who is now the one in the middle.

I’ve Been to Harlem

F major. 2/4 Time signature. First eight measures of I've Been to Harlem.

 

F major. 2/4 Time signature. Second eight measures of I've Been to Harlem.

 

F major. 2/4 Time signature. Third seven measures of I've Been to Harlem.

 

F major. 2/4 Time signature. Last nine measures of I've Been to Harlem.

 

The song “Weevily Wheat” refers to wheat that is infested with beetles or weevils that destroy the plants. The game for “Weevily Wheat” requires children in small groups of four, with each child numbering off 1-2-3-4. The song begins with the children holding hands and moving clockwise. On “take some,” everyone reverses direction. On the words “five times five” all stand in place and layer hands in the center of the circle to the beat of the song. Child 1 puts their left hand in, 2 put theirs on top, 3 and 4 continue the pattern. Then all layer their right hand in. When they run out of hands, the children pull their left hand out from the bottom of the pile in turn and place on top, continuing until the end of the verse. This song contains multiplication and can be used as an extension activity for math.

Weevily Wheat

Traditional American play party song

F major. 4/4 Time signature. First four measures of Weevily Wheat.

 

F major. 4/4 Time signature. Second four measures of Weevily Wheat.

 

F major. 4/4 Time signature. Third four measures of Weevily Wheat.

 

F major. 4/4 Time signature. Last four measures of Weevily Wheat.

 

Cumulative Songs

Cumulative songs are those in which each verse adds on lyrics and music from the previous verse, and by the end of the song, the singer sings through all of the accumulated lyrics. The most well-known cumulative song is “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” but there are many others. These songs provide an excellent cognitive workout, as the singer has to mentally catalog each verse, adding each verse as they progress through the song, but then singing all of the lyrics backward in a cumulative fashion.

Some examples of cumulative songs are “Hey Ho, the Rattlin’ Bog,” “There was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly,” “The Green Grass Grew all Around,” “Allouette,” and “I Bought me a Cat.”

The song “Rattlin’ Bog” has a refrain with verses that accumulate. This Irish song is also meant to gradually speed up in tempo as you sing.

Activity 9B

Listen

Listen to the band Irish Descendants sing “Rattlin’ Bog.” What is your reaction to the tempo of the song? Are you able to sing along? How might you use this type of song in a lesson?

The Rattlin’ Bog

Traditional Irish folk song

F Major. 4/4 Time signature. First two measures of Rattlin' Bog.

 

F Major. 4/4 Time signature. Second two measures of Rattlin' Bog.

 

F Major. 4/4 Time signature. Third two measures of Rattlin' Bog.

 

F Major. 4/4 Time signature. Fourth two measures of Rattlin' Bog.

 

F Major. 4/4 Time signature. Fifth two measures of Rattlin' Bog.

 

F Major. 4/4 Time signature. Last two measures of Rattlin' Bog.

 

“I Bought Me a Cat” is a traditional American song arranged by the famous American composer Aaron Copland. This song does not have a refrain, but the verses themselves accumulate lyrics.

I Bought Me a Cat

Traditional American children’s song

C Major. 2/4 Time signature. Pick up to first four measures of I Bought Me a Cat.

 

C Major. 2/4 Time signature. Second six measures of I Bought Me a Cat.

 

C Major. 2/4 Time signature. Third five measures of I Bought Me a Cat.

 

C Major. 2/4 Time signature. Fourth six measures of I Bought Me a Cat.

 

C Major. 2/4 Time signature. Fifth three measures of I Bought Me a Cat.

 

C Major. 2/4 Time signature. Sixth five measures of I Bought Me a Cat.

 

C Major. 2/4 Time signature. Seventh six measures of I Bought Me a Cat.

 

C Major. 2/4 Time signature. Eighth six measures of I Bought Me a Cat.

 

C Major. 2/4 Time signature. Ninth four measures of I Bought Me a Cat.

 

C Major. 2/4 Time signature. Tenth five measures of I Bought Me a Cat.

 

C Major. 2/4 Time signature. Eleventh six measures of I Bought Me a Cat.

 

C Major. 2/4 Time signature. Last five measures of I Bought Me a Cat.

 

I bought me a pig, my pig pleased me

I fed my pig under yonder tree,

My pig says “griffey, griffey”

My hen says “shimmey shack, shimmey shack”

My goose says “quaw, quaw”

My duck says, “quaa, quaa”

My cat says “fiddle-i-fee.”

I bought me a cow, my cow pleased me

I fed my cow under yonder tree,

My cow says “baw, baw” (etc.)

I bought me a horse, my horse pleased me

I fed my horse under yonder tree,

My horse says “neigh, neigh” (etc.)

I got me a wife, my wife pleased me

I fed my wife under yonder tree,

My wife says “honey, honey” (etc.)

Songs Every Child Should Know

National Association for Music Educators (NAfME) (formerly known as Music Educators National Conference, MENC) developed a suggested list of 42 songs every child should know. The songs are culled from folk, stage musicals, patriotic songs, Tin Pan Alley songs, culturally diverse songs, film songs, and religious songs.

42 Songs Every Child Should Know
  • Amazing Grace
  • America
  • America the Beautiful
  • Battle Hymn of the Republic
  • Blue Skies
  • De Colores
  • Danny Boy (Londonderry Air)
  • Dona Nobis Pacem
  • Do-Re-Mi
  • Down by the Riverside
  • Frere Jacques
  • Give My Regards to Broadway
  • God Bless America
  • God Bless the U.S.A.
  • Green, Green Grass of Home
  • Havah Nagilah
  • He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands
  • Home on the Range
  • I’ve Been Working on the Railroad
  • If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song)
  • Let There Be Peace on Earth
  • Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing
  • Michael Row the Boat Ashore
  • Music Alone Shall Live
  • My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean
  • Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’
  • Oh! Susanna
  • Over My Head
  • Puff the Magic Dragon
  • Rock-A-My Soul
  • Sakura
  • Shalom Chaverim
  • She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain
  • Shenandoah
  • Simple Gifts
  • Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child
  • Star Spangled Banner
  • Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
  • This Land Is Your Land
  • This Little Light of Mine
  • Yesterday
  • Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah

Resources

References

Gordon, E. E. (2007). Learning sequences in music: A contemporary music learning theory. Chicago, IL: GIA.

Vocabulary

cumulative songs: songs in which each verse adds on lyrics and music from the previous verse; by the end of the song the singer is singing through all of the accumulated lyrics

descants: a type of harmony that is placed above the melody; can have text, but can also be sung on neutral syllables such as “oh,” or “ah”

falsetto: a light, high, head voice that is not pushed, yelled, or forced in any way; usually used by boys

harmony: sounding of two or more notes simultaneously

partner songs: two songs, which are musically compatible, are sung together, and everyone contributes to the melody; considered more challenging than rounds.

polyphony: refers to multiple independent lines of music sing at the same time

rounds: also known as canons; group singing in which everyone contributes equally in terms of their melody

ostinato (pl. ostinati): easily repeated short musical phrases, patterns, or fragments.

unison: all parts are the same and sung at the same time