Ah Poor Bird is one of the easiest and loveliest of rounds for singers. It has a melancholy minor sound that matches the words well, and is fairly easy to learn, with its climbing scale up to the leap in the third line, then back down again. This singing round works well as a "listening" kind of warmup, in which your student sings their part slowly against the contrasting line YOU are singing. This takes great concentration!
If you are new to singing rounds with your students, I highly recommend playing their part on the piano with them, while you softly sing the part that follows theirs. (This takes great concentration until you are accustomed to it! Eventually, some of your most capable students will be able to sight-sing the notes without help from the piano, but this takes time and understanding of music theory also.)
Listen to this all-female choir of the Muskego Choirs sing Ah Poor Bird in their Choral Masterworks at the MHS Performing Arts Center of March 18, 2010:
The fastest way I've found to get kids singing rounds accurately is to have a partner or two sharing their part, while I sing against them. After a couple times through the notes, we might clap the rhythm, or better yet, count aloud as we sing the notes. If the tune is "Ah, Poor Bird," we might count it like this:
"1-2, 3-4, 1-(2-3-4), 1-2, 3-4, 1-(2-3-4), 1, 2, 3, 4, 1-2, 3, 4, 1-2, 3-4, 1-(2-3-4)." I hope that makes sense! For a non-notereader, as some singers tend to be, I would probably count NOTE UNITS rather than measures of 4 beats. Then it would sound like this:
"1-2, 1-2, 1-(2-3-4)," etc. Even if they don't read well, they need to be able to count!
Free printable vocal music Ah Poor Bird
Because every verse starts with the vowel "A", students have an opportunity -- perhaps a glaring opportunity! -- to work on smooth entrances in this singing round.
They need to be able to enter without an audible pop or roughness. Just learning to listen to the sound of their own inhalations and exhalations is a big step for beginners.
Vocal rounds can be hard at first, but they are very worthwhile for teaching kids to hear other musical parts while staying on their own.
Below is a simply but nicely sung rendition of Ah Poor Bird that mixes it up with "Hey, Ho, Nobody Home".
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... I watched your video "Wondrous Love" with your eight gals - Magnificent! So refreshing to see good harmonies sung a capella these days; it seems to be rare!
Thank you! THANK YOU!!! For keeping the beautiful art of Opera alive! I stumbled upon this site and I'm so happy I did!
Thank you for your wonderful website. I also teach piano, voice and guitar - spooky! My absolute passion is opera, and have opened many a singing student's ear to the beautiful melodies and voices in the repertoire. Thank you for the wonderful warmups which I have downloaded, and will be using at the earliest opportunity - I will let you know how they go! Looking forward to more warmup ideas, too.
Useful Sites for Vocalists
Cantorian.org, home to free classical sheetmusic
ChoralWiki, Home of the Choral Public Domain Library
International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP) Petrucci Music Library
Musicnotes.com - transpose vocal sheets up or down!
Note-Perfect.com, Resources for Choral Singers and Soloists - hear your part!
Singwise.com - Technical singing advice
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Thank you thank you thank you!! I have recently started my own vocal studio, and though I have studied music education for years in college, a private studio is a daunting task for me. Your site has made everything seem so simple and straightforward and has helped me to really get started. It is so comprehensive and well put together. Thank you for taking the time to share your knowledge so that music can be shared everywhere. :)
Good for you! Yes, I know just what you mean. Every new endeavor requires a little bit of chutzpah -- not to say just brazening it out a bit, because you just can't be an expert at anything until you've done it for a while. All of us teachers have to learn how to teach... and you have to start somewhere.