Classroom Exercise

Ten Rounds for your Next Warm Up

Ten Rounds for Warm-ups
Written by Lindsay Price

Want to get your students working together as an ensemble? Are you looking for a great vocal warm up that will improve their listening skills? Use rounds!

A round is a short musical piece in which multiple voices sing the same melody but start the song at different times. When each singer gets to the end of the song, they return to the beginning and start again. Though simple, rounds have a beautiful cyclical sound that requires concentration and focus from your students. It’s easy to get caught up in another singer’s track!

Instructions:
  • Divide your group into three or more sections.
  • Section One will start the round.
  • At the end of the first line of the verse, have Section Two start their track.
  • When they get to the end of the first line of the verse, have Section Three start their track.
  • Instruct students that when they get to the end of the song they need to go back to the beginning and start again.
  • Also instruct students to look for your signal to end the round. This means they not only have to listen to each other, but focus on you to know when to finish.
Rounds

Rounds are simple melodies and usually four lines of verse. Don’t be fooled by their simplicity! It’s their simple nature that makes them work when repeated in the staggered fashion. Aside from being a great warm up, consider using rounds to end your rehearsals. The tone, the act of working together, and the ringing melody as the voices die out make this a lovely exercise.

Click the title on each round to go to a recording.

1. Row, Row, Row, Your Boat
Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
Life is but a dream

2. Fire’s Burning
Fire’s burning, fire’s burning
Draw nearer, draw nearer
In the gloaming, in the gloaming
Come sing and be merry

(Note: Third line can also be sung as: “In the glowing, in the glowing.”)

3. Three Blind Mice
Three blind mice, three blind mice
See how they run, see how they run
They all ran after the farmer’s wife
Who cut off their tails with a carving knife
Have you ever seen such a sight in your life
As three blind mice

4. Frere Jacques (Brother John)
Frere Jacques, Frere Jacques
Dormez-vous? Dormez-vous?
Sonnez les matines, Sonnez les matines.
Ding, dang, dong. Ding, dang, dong.

Are you sleeping, are you sleeping
Brother John? Brother John?
Morning bells are ringing, morning bells are ringing.
Ding, dang dong. Ding, dang, dong.

5. Make New Friends
Make new friends, but keep the old
One is silver and the other’s gold.

6. White Coral Bells
White coral bells, upon a silver stalk
Lilies of the Valley deck my garden walk
Oh don’t you wish that you could hear them ring
That can only happen when the fairies sing

7. Kookabura
Kookabura sit in the old gum tree
Merry merry king of the bush is he
Laugh Kookabura, laugh Kookabura
Great your life must be

8. I Like The Flowers
I like the flowers, I like the daffodils
I like the mountains, I like the rolling hills
I like the fireside, when the lights are low
Boom-dee-ah-da, Boom-dee-ah-da
Boom-dee-ah-da, Boom-dee-ah-da

8. Ah Poor Bird
Ah, poor bird
Take your flight
High above the sorrows
Of this sad night.

10. Rose
Rose, Rose, Rose, Rose
Will I ever see thee wed
I will marry at thy will, sir,
At thy will.

(another version- a little darker!)
Rose, Rose, Rose, Rose
Will I ever see thee wed.
Aye sir, I will marry
When I am dead.


Bonus!

You can sing these three different rounds together for more of a challenge

Hey, ho nobody home
Meat nor drink
Nor money have I none
Still I will be very merry
Hey, ho nobody home

Have students write their own! Follow this criteria:

  • A simple melody. You could have them write new lyrics to an existing melody like Row Row Row Your Boat.
  • Four lines of verse. Have students study existing rounds, how do they use rhyme? How do they use repetition?
Click here for a PDF Lyric Sheet of all the rounds!

About the author

Lindsay Price