Once I Had a Sweetheart 
Free Vocal Sheet Music

Once I Had a Sweetheart, an Appalachian folk song with piano accompaniment in three keys. This lovely and wistful tune won my heart the very first time I heard it... chances are your beginning voice students will love it too! 

This beautiful and singable Appalachian song has been sung by a number of folk artists, including Joan Baez. I think the soundtrack on this video is her voice in concert, singing in the key of B: 



Because this free vocal sheet music is a folk tune, you will find slightly different versions of the lyrics, some with more verses than others.

And not surprisingly, there is also a different melody for these words, which has been arranged for band (a very pretty tune in 4/4 time - you can listen to the band version by hunting on this page at Sheetmusicplus for the "Listen" button). I like the melody I have arranged here the best: 

Appalachian love song


Free folk music for singers


Download folk song "Once I Had a Sweetheart", key of A 

Download Appalachian folk song in Bb 

Download folk song in key of C 

Here is a different set of chords with the same melody, in three keys: 

free vocal sheet music Once I Had a Sweetheart


Appalachian love song


Download free vocal sheet music "Once I Had a Sweetheart", key of A

Download free vocal music in the key of B

Download free sheet music in the key of C 

I have to admit that even after finishing these two arrangements of the folk song, I still keep playing with the chords.  I've also decided that I prefer a slightly different rhythm at measure 1 of the last line - a dotted quarter note followed by an eighth, as performed by Marianne Faithfull (find her on Youtube).  

I guess that's why it's hard to pin down the "authentic" version of any folk song - people keep tweaking it!  You will find a number of singers performing this song on Youtube - recommend to your students that they choose a favorite version.

It's a good idea for your beginning singers to listen to how other singers have performed a song. Imitation of other singers' styles is an excellent way to learn how to sing better. 

More Folk & Traditional Songs

Ae Fond Kiss - not strictly a folk melody, but it is old - and very lovely!

Ash Grove - an elegant melody that sounds more classical than folk, the lyrics are old-fashioned and poignant

Cat Came Back (for early singers) - a fun and silly song that can be pared down to JUST 5 NOTES for kids who have trouble matching pitch, there is much repetition in the melody (good for finding pitches)

Colorado Trail - a genuine cowboy song, just one verse, surprisingly lovely

Down by the Salley Gardens - this pretty song from England is a setting for a poem by William Butler Yeats about trying to hurry love

Erie Canal - a vigorous minor melody that kids like, with lots of repeating phrases

Green Bushes - a fast, light, pretty melody that speaks of false-hearted love, and feels very "English" in both lyrics and chord progressions

Grenadier and the Lady - Number One with me!  So beautiful, somewhat sad. Lots of opportunities for expressive singing.

Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier - Lovely.  Important for breath control and learning to mold a phrase.

Lavender's Blue, a pretty song that is VERY simple to sing!  Perfect for young girls.

Loch Lomond, the most famous song of all from Scotland.  Still beautiful.

Mari's Wedding - lots of energy in this Scottish tune, which sounds great with guitar and fiddle backup

The Minstrel Boy - though rather difficult with its long phrases, this Irish song about the love for one's country is very moving and beautiful

Molly Bawn - So sad, but so IRRESISTIBLE.  Lovely and evocative, and requiring good air support, it is educational as well as being satisfying to the musical soul.

Muss i denn or Abschied (Wooden Heart) - from Germany by way of Elvis, an adorable folk tune!

Once I Had a Sweetheart - another sad, pretty, and image-arousing song, once sung by Joan Baez

Parting Glass - There are many versions of this GREAT Irish melody.  Download mine free, then check out others!

Scarborough Fair - an old favorite from England, still lovely

She Moved Through the Fair - a strange, shifting melody, with almost creepy lyrics that will haunt you

Shenandoah - So pretty, and genuinely American.  Long phrases, good breath control practice.

Skye Boat Song - a singable old Scottish song with a great tune about the escape of Bonnie Prince Charlie after the Battle of Culloden

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

The Spanish Lady - Upbeat and energetic, this 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.




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