Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier

Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier is the kind of song young girls love to sing.

Haunting, plaintive, and beautiful, it has a strong melody with a melancholy story which seems to take you back to earlier times, the sad days of the Civil War, or "The War Between the States".

Here is a beautiful arrangement in 4 keys: Am, Gm, Fm, and Em.

Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier sheet music

Please scroll down the page for the download links.

The song actually dates from the American Revolution, with possible roots in Ireland (it is similar to a tune called "Shule Aroon"). Because it is such an old song, you'll find lots of different versions of the tune and the lyrics.

Years ago film-maker Ken Burns produced a moving documentary about the Civil War.

Prominent among the music in the background was this song, Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier. Again and again this theme came back, growing in poignancy with each repetition.

I loved the arrangement used in the movie so much that I tried to duplicate it, and this was the result. 


free vocal sheet music for Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier

Please scroll down the page for the download links.

Watch for where the music changes

Please notice that verses 1 and 3 are not exactly the same tune as verses 2 and 4. Only one measure is different (the 3rd measure of each verse), by only a couple of notes, but it is enough to throw singers off if they are not prepared well.

Not just a pretty face - there's lots of substance here

This song has lots of opportunities for beginners to improve basic technique. Even the very first word, "Here," presents difficulties for many singers. I love to use this piece to encourage long vowels..."hih" for "here," and "ah(ee)" for "I".

Watch out for "Ho-ho's"

Another challenge in Johnny is keeping the "h's" out of the syllables with two or more notes.

You know what I mean: instead of "tu-urn a-a mill," students want to sing "tu-HURN a-HA mill." There are lots of those spots in this song!

Civil War song Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier

Please scroll down the page for the download links.

How do you climb higher without tightening the throat?

The ascending phrase toward the end of each verse FEELS higher than it really is, and some students may start to tighten their throats.

Help them relax their throats on that phrase by singing the line with such syllables as "Yah-yah-yah-yah-yah," "Lah-gah, lah-gah, lah" without moving their jaw, sirens on those notes, and other such singing warm ups.  

You need to help them open up expressively and make a slight crescendo as they ascend.  A gesture that may be helpful:

As the two of you sing the phrase TOGETHER, slowly drop one hand in an expansive movement, like a conductor, and encourage your student to envision OPENING UP and making MORE SPACE, instead of PUSHING HIGHER.

Vowels are much easier than words

I like to take the words out temporarily, so students sing the melody on "ah", "oh", "ee", "oo", "lah," etc. When the notes come easily, we put the words back in. 

Shule Aroon melody in Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier

Please scroll down the page for the download links.

Breathing for singing - it's not the same as speaking!

This free vocal sheet music also helps teach good breathing for young singers. 

The difference in regular breathing, and breathing for singing makes itself plain in Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier.

I remind students that they wouldn't take a breath in the middle of a sentence if they were speaking the words to another person, and so, to make themselves understood, their goal in singing a phrase -- ideally -- is to sing the whole thing with no breaths chopping it up.

But singing takes so much more breath than just talking, and careful, measured release. Students will learn a lot as they make phrases long and smooth in Johnny.

Sometimes you want to emphasize a word

I make an exception to singing the whole phrase in verse one after the word "drop." I want the word "drop" to sound like a drop, with an audible "p" sound ...perhaps this could be seen as an affectation, but making singing expressive involves making personal choices such as this.

Help us understand you

Singers must remember that they are telling a story. Making pretty sounds is not enough. When I listen to people singing, I want to know what they are saying!

Enjoy this beautiful piece of history, Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier. 





The links for the printable PDF downloads:


Download free vocal sheet music Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier in Am 


Printable free vocal sheet music "Johnny Has Gone" in Gm 


Printable Johnny music Fm version 


"Johnny" for voice and piano in the key of Em 












Recent Articles

  1. Free Printable Sheet Music for Piano Students: Irish Wedding

    Free printable sheet music "Irish Wedding". A SIMPLE, intuitive version for your 1st-year kids is the newest of the arrangements of this fun, pretty piece!

    Read More

  2. Come By the Hills Lyrics & Sheet Music

    Come By the Hills is a pretty Gaelic song your singers will learn to sing EASILY and will love. NOW with piano, guitar tab, and lead sheet arrangements.

    Read More

  3. Jane Austen Emma Music for Piano

    Jane Austen "Emma" music - a beautiful piano arrangement based on some of the themes from one of the Jane Austen movies. Hear a video of the piano music.

    Read More

  4. Time-saving list!

    Thank you so much for this list! You saved me a great deal of time for me, not to have to reinvent the wheel! I’m going to teach a beginning singing

    Read More

  5. Aragorn and Arwen's Theme at Rivendell Sheet Music

    Aragorn and Arwen, in The Fellowship of the Ring, commit themselves to each other while the beautiful music "Aniron" - "I Desire" - is sung.

    Read More

  6. Titanic Music for Intermediate Piano

    This is the most famous "Titanic music" from Titanic the movie, arranged for intermediate piano. Not too easy, but very lovely.

    Read More

Just the Black Keys, a piano song book for young beginners.

Just the Black Keys

This book is available as a digital download  from this site, and also from Amazon as a paperback!

This is the perfect easy start for little pianists.

And when they start reading white-key notes on the staff, this is a fun easy resource to say each week, "Choose a new black-key song at home this week and figure it out to show me next lesson!"  They will be spending more time at the piano.

The Adventures of Tonsta, Volume 1, is a book about a young boy travelling over mountains and fjords from village to village, encountering trolls and helping folk in distress.

The Adventures of Tonsta

A perfect read aloud storybook
for little boys or girls. 

The Adventures of Tonsta highlight the travels of a very young boy with a good heart, who goes about helping folk in trouble.  

With a red cap on his head and a sack of tools slung over his shoulder, Tonsta seems to meet people in distress wherever he goes.

Lots of trolls in this book - including one who gives him a Christmas gift!

Available at Amazon

Comments

Music has such power to move the heart... do you have a story or a question about this music?

Sign up for "Take Note!" to see what's new every month.


About the Author

Dana Thynes

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

Like some of you, I've been playing the piano since early childhood, and 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.