Fergus Black

music teacher and performer


Grade 1 Songs List A

Grade 1 - List B | Grade 1 - List C

1. Anon. American Home on the Range (omitting verse 2). F(C-D): no.40 from Ta-ra-ra boom-de- ay (Black)

Simple song about the American West. Apart from the rubbish words (especially in verse 3!), this is a delight. There are some odd discrepancies of rhythm between the verse and chorus (e.g. Why is the rhythm of “Where the deer and the antelope play” different?). Surely there is a misprint in the fifth last bar of the chorus - shouldn’t it be two b flats on ‘And the’ (This song also appears in Sing Time Grade 1 - David Turnbull pub. Bosworth, where this mistake is corrected)? Avoid the temptation to breathe every two bars - try and make it four. In bar 3 there is an upward leap of a minor 6th n the word ‘buffalo’ - make sure the ‘fa’ of ‘buffalo’ is truly in the centre of the note - there is a tendency for the voice not to reach the B flat until the crotchet. A brisk tempo (one-in-the-bar), please. Put the words just behind the front teeth to help propel the music along happily. Give a good ‘H’ at the start of the chorus, and separate the two ‘Home, Home” for emphasis.

2. Anon. Dutch Anna Marie. G(D-E): no.15 from Sing Together!, arr. Appleby and Fowler (O.U.P.)

Another simple song, but one at least that allows characterisation - the song is a question and answer between two people. There is the opportunity for echo singing in the repeated phrases - e.g. take the first phrase heavily (man) and repeat it gently; when she says “Going to London”, you could make it more girly (and soft), but enjoy it more towards the end of the page - say with a crescendo from the fifth last bar to the end. You will need clean consonants and vowels in the nonsense refrain - don’t make the ‘f’ heavier than the other consonants in “Hop sa sa, fa la la”.

There shouldn’t be any breath control issues.

3. Anon. English Golden Slumbers. B flat(D-F): no.72 from Sing Together!, arr. Appleby and Fowler (O.U.P.) or A flat: no.41 from Strawberry Fair(Black)

I would recommend this song to a more advanced singer who can pitch the wide intervals accurately, has the range to encompass the top F, and can produce a beautiful sound - there is little else in the song to work on.

Again, Appleby and Fowler couldn’t leave the words alone. Here are the original words by Thomas Dekker (c. 1570-1632). Please sing them!

Golden slumbers kiss your eyes,
Smiles awake you when you rise.
Sleep pretty wantons, do not cry,
And I will sing a lullaby;
Rock them, rock them, lullaby. [this line is not set]

Care is heavy, therefore sleep you;
You are care, and care must keep you.
Sleep pretty wantons, do not cry,
And I will sing a lullaby;
Rock them, rock them, lullaby. [this line is not set]

What does “Not too slowly” mean as a tempo indication? Try crotchet = 120, although crotchet = 104 could be possible if you sing it more like a lullaby and can manage four bars in one breath at that speed

4. Anon. English The Miller of Dee (verses 1 and 2 only). G min. (D-D): Songs of England, arr. Hargest Jones (Boosey & Hawkes) or no.89 from Sing Together!, arr. Appleby and Fowler(O.U.P.)

Would this be a suitable song for children: probably not! since it deals with increasing intoxication, but structurally it is easily learnt - there are four four-bar phrases, three of which are the same. The Appleby and Fowler words are bowdlerised - I always use the words Britten set (although not his accompaniment, great though it is).

Station in verse 2 needs to be pronounced sta-ti-on. Look at what Benjamin Britten does to the tune in the last verse - as the line breaks up it suggests that the Miller is finally under the table!

5. Anon. English The Smuggler's Song. E flat (D-E flat): no. 43 from Sing Together!, arr. Appleby and Fowler (O.U.P.)

Boys would like this, and I do too. It is an immediately likeable song about smugglers creeping around in the night unloading contraband, with plenty of opportunity for characterisation and dynamic variation (which is marked in).

“Hark!” at the beginning of v.2 should be short and surprised, with a good ‘h’.
The note and rhythm variations between the two verses cause most singers endless difficulty (especially “The Excisemen” in v.2)

6. Anon. French My Father's Garden. F(C-D): no.2 from Sing Together!, arr. Appleby and Fowler (O.U.P.)

Simple compound duple time song, with lots of repetition - easy for the inexperienced singer. Apart from one phrase in the chorus, it has a range of major 6th. The words are the same in both verses apart from four bars. I would have given this song a preparatory grade listing. The only difficulty to my view is the words and pitch of the quicker notes at ‘into our’ in the chorus.

I suppose you could do something with echoes.

7. Anon. Irish The Garden where the Praties Grow (verses 1 and 3 only). (M) G(D-E): Songs of Ireland, arr. Hargest Jones (Boosey & Hawkes)

8. Anon. Irish The Spinning Wheel (verses 1 and 5 only). F(C-D): Songs of Ireland, arr. Hargest Jones (Boosey & Hawkes)

9. Anon. Mexican La Cucaracha. F(C-D): Songs of the Americas, arr. Hargest Jones (Boosey & Hawkes)

10. Anon. Russian Good Night, arr. Rao. D min.(D-E): 20th-Century Easy Song Collection (Boosey & Hawkes)

Easily the best song in this section (imho) – it has a tenderness, and a sense of mystery that appeals to the imagination of all ages. Difficulties are the long breaths “silent the sound of the night coming on” ( which need a crescendo of course to “Hear”, the tuning of the modal scale in descending phrases, and the pitching of the rising octave, 7th and 6th toward the end of each verse.

Watch that the word ‘whispering” is pronounced once with two syllables “whispring” and then with three “whis-per- ing”.

The American edition of this song (We Will Sing Performance Programe One - Rao, Boosey and Hawkes has the Russian words for the chorus:

spakoinyi notsi

instead of “good night my sweet one”. It might be fund to use the Russian words in the second chorus. The Russian is pronounced spah-coy-nyee (y is a quick glide vowel here) knot-shee.

11. Anon. South American Dona, Dona (omitting verse 2). D min.(D-C): Songs of the Americas, arr. Hargest Jones (Boosey & Hawkes)

12. Anon. Welsh Springtime is returning (omitting verse 2). G(D-E): Songs of Wales, arr. Hargest Jones (Boosey & Hawkes)

What a clever song - I particularly like the way the first phrase returns at the end of the song with the same melodic figure at a different pitch. It is short - only 32 bars, 8 of which are a straight repeat.

The immediate problem with the first eight bars is where to breathe? If it is fast enough (crotchet = 120), the singer could do all eight bars in one breath. That would be the best solution: breathing after “returning”, which is grammatically correct, leaves only time for the merest snatched breath - not enough to fuel the remaining twelve bars, and makes the pair of semi-quavers sound rushed rather than light. Breathing after “grey” (the obvious place musically) destroys the meaning of the text, even if you resort to tricks, such as a strong descent to “grey” followed by a subito piano on “with” (The problem doesn’t occur on the repeat: on the repeat you can follow the rule of breathing with the punctuation, which works musically and grammatically.

Make sure the second note is bang in the middle - in my experience it will tend to be flat.

At “Now no more afar”, start quietly and crescendo to “wind” of “winding”. Same with the next phrase.

13. Anon. Welsh Watching the Wheat (omitting verse 2). D(C sharp-E): Songs of Wales, arr. Hargest Jones (Boosey & Hawkes)

I think of this song as a sort of Welsh Waly Waly: both are very famous tunes, but neither is at all easy to count when you have to sing it. Watching the Wheat starts on the downbeat, not an anacrusis. Only 16 bars long.

The rhythm of bar 2 is likely to take some getting used to. The performer has to feel that silent third beat. A slight broadening of the tempo at that point (a corner) might help a more experienced performer to place the hanging semiquaver.

The whole song is made very much easier by the four-square phrasing that makes it clear where to breathe (bars 4 (of the song), 6, 8, 10, 12, 14). Crotchet = 86 or so.

If the octave leaps are supported, and the singer sings through the top note to the other side, they are not difficult.

Equally singable by boys and girls by the simple expedient of changing he for she in bar 5.

14. Leo Maguire The Gypsy Rover (verses 1 and 2 only). G(D-D): Songs of Ireland, arr. Hargest Jones (Boosey & Hawkes)

15. F.W. Möller The Happy Wanderer (any two verses and chorus). C(C-E): no.34 from Ta-ra-ra boom-de-ay (Black)

A bright and happy song, but harder to sing well than it looks. After the first phrase (“I love to go a wandering along the mountain track”), make sure the note on the word “And” is centred on the note. There is a tendency in my experience to sing an F again. Point out to young students the rising scale in the chorus “Valdari” (pronounced Val-de-ree), and make sure they get the words right - it goes Ri Ra Ra Ha! I find the Ha Ha’s difficult - it needs better diaphragm control than most Grade 1 singers have, and you can’t breathe until after the next “Valderi”

16. Dorothy Parke Over the hills and far away (from 'By Winding Roads'). G(D-E): Parke 3 Songs from 'By Winding Roads' (Roberton 75064/Goodmusic)

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