Sing a Song of Sixpence by The Speks

Sing a Song of Sixpence Nursery Rhyme

A concerto is a classical musical arrangement where a solo instrument is contrasted with an orchestra, i.e. it’s as if there is a dialogue between the soloist and the orchestra.

We merge a piece of “Carolan’s Concerto” with the children's nursery rhyme “Sing a Song of Sixpence” to create a regal sounding song.

Turlough O’Carolan, born in 1670, was a blind Irish harpist who travelled Ireland composing music for wealthy patrons. He wrote his concerto for Mrs Power who was the wife of one of his patrons.

Our concerto effect comes from the singers’ dialogue and the contrast between the mandolin and the duet of fiddle and flute. Ed leads the singers’ dialogue in the first round. In the second round it is Tommo’s turn to lead. The mandolin joins the fiddle and flute for the instrumental which is the first part of “Carolan’s Concerto.”

Click on the play arrow above to listen to our version of Sing a Song of Sixpence set to Irish music for kids. Go to The King's Concerto page where you can share our nursery rhyme with your friends and/or get it as a free MP3 download.

Lyrics for Sing a Song of Sixpence

Sing a song of sixpence a pocket full of rye
Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie
When the pie was opened the birds began to sing
Wasn't that a dainty dish to set before the king

The king was in his counting house counting out his money
The queen was in the parlour eating bread and honey
The maid was in the garden hanging out the clothes
When down came a blackbird and pecked off her nose

Classrom Ideas for Sing a Song of Sixpence

Social, Environmental and Scientific Education/History: Who are the best known kings and queens from the past? Examine their role in society at that time. How was society structured then? What was their lifestyle? What were their best achievements? What were their worst ones?

Art: Illustrate the king in his counting house, the queen in the parlour and the maid in the garden. Draw a castle or a palace. Introduce the colours of royalty, e.g. purple, red and gold, etc.

Drama: Make king and queen costumes. Dramatise the movements of kings and queens. Enact a regal procession to this song.