Green Bushes, 
an English Folk Song

Green Bushes is a vibrant and beautiful folk song from England...your voice students will enjoy this free vocal sheet music! 

This little song is very English sounding.

You'll hear snatches of it from time to time in movies set in England, such as Jane Austen's Emma (A&E, 1997)with Kate Beckinsale as Emma, not the better-known version with Gwyneth Paltrow as Emma .

English folk song Green Bushes

Please scroll down the page for the download links.

Like so many cute British songs, this one starts with "As I was a-walking one morning..."

A good song for beginners

I like to use this folk song with beginners, because the vocal range stays comfortably low, yet there is one high note and two phrases that arch nicely, with opportunity for expressive phrasing.

And the challenges in this little song are...

Breathing.  And a "twisty, turn-y melody" as I like to tell my singers.

Green Bushes presents breathing challenges for the beginning singer. The lines move along so quickly, with so little time to snatch a breath, that the singer must plan carefully and pay attention!

Where should the breaths be?

Ideally, the singer's first breath inside the song would be after "nightingales sing."

But in actual practice, the rising notes at the end of that phrase are hard to execute with ENERGY for a beginning singer when his or her air supply is almost exhausted.

The problem compounds with the LONG phrase which comes immediately afterwards: "I spied...so sweetly sang she." That phrase should NOT be broken up, or the song will sound choppy!

Here is the song with a simple accompaniment:

Free folk song Green Bushes

Please scroll down the page for the download links.

Catch breaths

Therefore, in my opinion, the singer should take a quick breath in the very first line between the words "spring" and "for to".

Though it is an extremely quick breath and will sound like a gasp unless carefully executed, it will result in less of a "winded" feeling at the end of each verse (an out-of-breath feeling which accumulates and makes the song tiring for the singer).

Besides, quick, silent breathing is excellent training for young singers!

Make them do it -- it will probably take LOTS of repetition to perfect it and keep them timely on the beat.

What kind of accompaniment works with this song?

For a different texture each verse, let the simple LH (left hand) accompaniment drop down an octave, then come back up on the next verse. I suggest making the chords light and quick, especially down low, so the piano doesn't overwhelm your singer.

If you have questions about the key signatures, read the following exchange:

Jessica:

I do love your site, I just found it today and many of the pieces and links are quite helpful. I was looking through a few beginning voice pieces and thought I might shoot you a line...

Green Bushes, you call in the key of E but it is marked for the key of A. The chords in the song support this, starting on the V and going to the IV, even though the I is never played.

Thought you might want to know, or maybe I'm just being a "Key Signature Nazi" LOL. Thanks again!

Dana:

Hi, Jessica,

Yes, I see what you mean, but that particular piece, like many English folk songs, is a bit of a puzzle if you only think in terms of "major" and "minor".  It's in the Mixolydian mode -- the scale sound you get if you play from "G" to "G" on the piano without using the F# (sharp).

So, yes, it isn't really in A, of course, but neither does it ever use the D# that the key of E requires.

Idecided I didn't want to keep making the 7th step of the scale an accidental with a constantly-recurring natural sign, as that can make for hard reading. So what we have here is a bit of a compromise!

I think I'll post this note with the music, as others may have had the same thought occur to them.

Thanks for writing! 





The links for the lead sheet PDFs:


Download printable English folk music in key of D 


Download English folk song Green Bushes in key of E (shown above) 



The links to the song PDFs with piano accompaniment:


Download song with chord accompaniment in the key of D (shown)


Print out English folk song in the key of E 





More Folk Songs to Sing:


All the Pretty Little Horses - a soft and repetitious lullaby, quite pretty


Colorado Trail Song - an American tune written by a real cowboy


Come By the Hills - another popular Irish melody


Down By the Salley Gardens - a famous and pretty song, very sweet 


Green Bushes - a brisk little song that is pretty while being good for breath control training


Grenadier and the Lady - my favorite folk song of all.  Find out why


Johnny Has Gone For a Soldier - very beautiful, very moving, and a chance for your young singer to learn how to let her voice soar


Keegan's Waltz - this is a traditional Gaelic tune, but the lyrics are very new, supplied by a visitor to this site!


Lavender's Blue - this simple song is not only satisfying for beginning pianists, but also young singers who need to focus on basics.  With a lovely piano accompaniment.


Loch Lomond - the famous and sad song about never meeting again


Mari's Wedding - a singable tune with bouncy chords that is fun to play or sing


Minstrel Boy - a lovely and patriotic song about a warrior-poet


Molly Bawn - a sad story of a young hunter who thought he was shooting at a swan


Once I Had a Sweetheart - "but now I have none!" Very pretty, and little-known.


Parting Glass - a well-known Irish tune which my singers always love


Scarborough Fair - an old and famous tune of lost love


She Moved Through the Fair - this sounds happy, but it is actually a bit of a love story, and a bit of a ghost story!


Shenandoah - a famous and lovely American tune with ambiguous lyrics


Skye Boat Song - a pretty song from Scotland about the escape of Bonnie Prince Charlie over the sea


Spanish Ladies - a minor key sea chanty that swings energetically along - BOYS like singing it too!


The Spanish Lady - Upbeat and energetic, this Irish song is fun to perform with a group


Star of the County Down - LOTS of fun to sing and play!  An excellent ensemble piece


Waltzing Matilda - an unusually pretty melody from Australia; you know this one!  Very popular with kids


The Water is Wide - a very pretty song about disappointed love.  You might have sung this one in high school!


White, Orange and Green - though not widely known, this charming melody about fighting for the right to carry the flag of Ireland has stirring lyrics and soaring phrases. A favorite of my vocal & guitar students









Interested in songs from the Bible for your students or church?  Check out my other website, SingTheBibleStory.com!

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About the Author

Dana Thynes

Hi, I'm Dana!  (Say that like "Anna".)  I'm the owner of Music-for-Music-Teachers.com, and a newer site, SingTheBibleStory.com.

Like some of you, I've been playing the piano since early childhood, and have added a few other instruments along the way, plus an interest in arranging and composing music.

You can find out more about me and the reason for this website at my About Me page.