Music With Mrs. Tanenblatt

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Piratical Fun in the Music Room!

My dearest readers, I have a confession to make: I have a slight obsession with pirates. Their depiction in cinema, the history and lore around them... I love it all! 

I'm on the far left in this photo with some of my best friends from college.
We were on our way to a local pirate festival!
Holding a live parrot! 
My first ever race was a pirate themed 5K in 2013!

You could imagine my excitement when my good friend and fellow teacher/blogger, Molly Patrician, gave me her copy of Teach Like a Pirate by David Burgess:

My facebook fans will recognize this photo from last summer!

I share all of this with you, dear readers, so that you can imagine my excitement every year when I get to celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day! If you've never heard of this remarkable holiday, check out the background of it here

I love to honor TLAPD in my music room with a week of piratical fun songs and activities. Here's a sampling of some of the things I've done in the past few years to celebrate:

The Gallant Ship
I learned this song from a professor in a college practicum course, and I've taught it every single year since then. The kids LOVE it. I've looked everywhere for a source for the song. The closest source I can find for the lyrics online is the last verse from the sea shanty titled, "The Mermaid."

This is the melody as I learned it. If you know a source, PLEASE let me know! :)

After singing the verse for the A section, we do a spoken call/response for the B section:

She sank?
She sank.
In the sea?
In the sea.
Are you sure?
We're sure.
How sad!
We agree.

So there you have it! The A and B sections can repeat ad nauseum. I typically add class percussion instruments to the A section as well. You could also add a bordun on G-D on Orff instruments and have students switch instruments during the B section. Lots of fun possibilities and great for practicing eighth/sixteenth note combinations! 


Pirates of the Caribbean listening example
I've played this fun recording of the Pirates movie theme for some of my younger classes this week. We used scarves as we listen and responded to the high and low sounds in the melody.


Pirate Rhythm Patterns

I originally created this resource for my PreK students as a pre-reading exercise. As I point to each pirate symbol, the students clap and say its name. While using it in class today, I started to discover that there are about a million different ways to expand on it and use it with older students as well.

  • Practice keeping a steady beat and distinguish between beat and rhythm
  • Practice left-right tracking skills
  • Identify patterns and repeated symbols
  • Use an IWB to draw the rhythm symbols under each picture 
  • Clap or play on percussion instruments
  • Encourage improvisation by having students think of new words/patterns
It's free in my Teachers Pay Teachers store until Talk Like a Pirate Day on September 19! 


Just Dance! Kids Pirate Video

For a fun movement activity, I played this video for my Kinder students. We practiced marching like pirates to the steady beat and following along with the moves in the video.


Pirate Vocal Explorations

I love vocal explorations and I wanted to create one with a simple story line. I wrote a little story about a pirate named Annabelle and her parrot, Blackbeak. As I read this story to my students, they follow along with their voices.

I've found that my students really like when there's a story that ties it all together. The last time we read one like this, they all clapped at the end! How cute! You can purchase this story in my TpT store.


Well, readers, I hope I've inspired you to add some pirattitude to your music lessons this week. If you have any other awesome pirate activities, I'd love to hear about them in the comments section below.

Also, stay tuned for one more pirate-related announcement on Friday evening... a few music teachers and I have something fun planned!


  1. The furthest I usually take TLAPD is making the kids say "Aye, aye, captain!" to every direction I give haha.

    1. A few years ago, I told my kids to call me Captain on TLAPD but it also happened to be this one boy's first day of school... he called me Captain for the better part of the year. I didn't correct him.