Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Pentatonic Songs

The pentatonic scale, a 5-note scale, is the basis for countless folk songs around the world. Here's an explanation of the importance of the pentatonic scale in an Orff classroom:  

The music used in the classroom is based on the children's own heritage with a combination of folk and composed music. Here in America, our classrooms are multicultural. Orff philosophy embraces the folk music of all cultures. They are almost all in the universal pentatonic scale. (Five note scale - separated by whole steps.) C Pentatonic would include the pitches C D E G A. This is the most common scale used in Orff because it is easily used with the Orff instruments. (source

A la Claire Fontaine - lesson ideas

Acadian Lullaby - lesson ideas

Ai Hai Yo - lesson ideas

Aia o Pele i Hawaii - lesson ideas

Arirang - lesson ideas

Alabama Gal - lesson ideas

Al Citron - lesson ideas

All Night All Day - lesson ideas

Bickle Bockle - lesson ideas

Bought Me a Cat - lesson ideas

Buckeye Jim - lesson ideas

Built My Lady a Fine Brick House - lesson ideas

California - lesson ideas

Camptown Races - lesson ideas

Cape Cod Chantey - lesson ideas

Chattanooga Choo Choo - lesson ideas

Chicken on the Fence Post - lesson ideas

Cotton Eye Joe - lesson ideas

Crawdad Song - lesson ideas

Dinah - lesson ideas

Ding Dong Diggidiggidong - lesson ideas

Doctor Foster - lesson ideas

Ducks on the Millpond - lesson ideas

Ezekiel Saw the Wheel - lesson ideas

Fukien Boat Song - lesson ideas

Git on Board - lesson ideas

Goin' Down to Cairo - lesson ideas

Goin' Upon the Mountain

Great Big House

Great Mornin'

Green Mountain

Hambone - lesson ideas

How Can I Keep From Singing

Jim Along, Josie

John Kanakanaka - lesson ideas


Mince Pie and a Pudding - lesson ideas

Mister Rabbit

Old Ark's a-Moverin'

Old Brass Wagon - lesson ideas

Old Dan Tucker - lesson ideas

Old King Glory - lesson ideas

Rattlin' Bog

Shake Them 'Simmons Down

Song of the Dragon

Sun Don't Set in the Mornin' - lesson ideas

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot - lesson ideas

Teddy Bear - lesson ideas


This Train is Bound for Glory - lesson ideas

Tideo - lesson ideas

Who Built the Ark - lesson ideas


I like this book by Cristi Cary Miller. It has some great songs in it. 


  1. Thanks for putting so much thought into organizing your songs! I am putting together some resources for a student teacher...coming here was SO much easier than pulling from a million different books! Thanks!!

  2. Beth, I'm currently working in Mumbai, India without many of my resources. This is helping me model pentatonic songs. A million thanks to you for putting this together! Love your blog!

  3. Hi, I'm working with some kids in Ethiopia. The pentatonic scale is used in all their folk songs. This is a lovely collection! Thank you for your hard work!

    1. Kathleen,

      My sister adopted her daughter from Ethiopia, and she is now living with me for awhile. Do you know of any resources where I could find Ethiopian folk songs?

      Thank you!

  4. Oh my gosh, I just had so much fun going through these pieces of music! I've honestly never been that keen on recorders or orff... but some of these are so much fun, and have such great, applicable material to our school system's incredibly intense curriculum, I just love it!

  5. Thanks for the great song resources - I am studying Music Therapy and these will be so helpful

  6. Great collection. I think "Farmer in The Dell" can be added as well. Thank you!