18 FREE Partner Songs For Different Levels And Themes

partner songs elementary middle school choir christmas

Partner songs are a great way to get students to sing harmony without having to teach individual parts. 

It’s one of the earliest steps in teaching harmony to any group (earlier steps being beat and ostinati). 

But sometimes, it’s hard to come up with partner songs, so I pulled together my favorite 18 to share with you. 

  1. Brother John 
  2. Three Blind Mice
  3. Hot Cross Buns 
  4. Bow Wow Wow
  5. Farmer In The Dell 
  6. Row Row Row Your Boat
  7. Ah, Poor Bird
  8. Hey Ho Nobody Home
  9. Good Night Ladies 
  10. Oh, When The Saint Come Marching In
  11. Water Come A Me Eye 
  12. One More River
  13. Carol Of The Angels 
  14. Angels We Have Heard On High
  15. Pachelbel Canon 
  16. Jolly Old St. Nicholas
  17. Happy Winter 
  18. Frosty The Snowman

These will cover the elementary music classroom, middle school or early choirs, and Christmas ones (since this is one of the most popular uses for them). 

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6 Best Partners Songs For Elementary

For elementary music, it’s critical to choose melodies that the kids know well or ones that you’ll do a lot of practice with on your own. 

If you teach a song expressly for the purpose of using it as a partner song, you’re not using your limited time efficiently. 

This is why my favorite partner songs for elementary use folk songs I use in my classroom for other concepts too! 

I’m also not afraid to try pairing up any other two I teach to see if they work. 

Often, my students will ask to try partnering up songs on their own. 

I love this creativity and drive, and it all comes from partner songs. 

Brother John – Three Blind Mice

Brother John or Frere Jacques is a great round as it is. 

I’ll use it later on as a round or canon, but I’ll also use it for the rhythms involved. 

Three Blind Mice is much the same kind of folk song. 

Plus, the kids seem to love the actual words of this song once they learn them. 

Putting them together isn’t hard; just make sure (per normal) that the students sing each song quite well on its own before attempting to put it together. 

Pro-tip: The first time you attempt a partner song with your music students, you (the teacher) should sing one of the parts vs. the class on the other. 

Then, switch! After this, split the class up. It’ll help them get to grips with what you’re asking them to do. 

Hot Cross Buns – Bow Wow Wow

Getting the most mileage on your songs is kind of my thing. 

We don’t get nearly enough time in our music lessons with kids, so we need to make the most of what we get. 

Enter these two tunes, which I use for all sorts of musical concepts in my music class. 

Hot Cross Buns is the iconic first song taught on the recorder. It’s also great for basic music ideas like:

  • Mi Re Do
  • Quarter note, eighth note, half note

Bow Wow Wow shows up in my lessons a lot too. 

I’ll use this a lot in Kindergarten and First Grade for concepts like: 

  • Steady beat
  • Rest
  • Quarter notes, quarter rest, eighth notes
  • Timbre (different dog sounds)
  • Do, re, mi, sol, la (in older grades)

The similar rhythms make this a powerful partner song for your first time teaching one. 

And they work well together? Seems like a slam dunk to me! 

Farmer In The Dell – Row Row Row Your Boat

Both of these tunes are ones I think all students should know. 

They are a part of American culture, and most kids used to know them. 

I’d wager most parents know them too, even if those same parents neglected to teach them to their kids…you know… since many parents don’t pay attention to their kids as they should. (OK, soapbox over.)

Farmer in the Dell is great for making up new lyrics. It’s a common book read to young students. 

Row Row Row Your Boat is THE classic example of a round, but rounds are actually quite tricky. 

They are the step AFTER partner ones. 

But you can still prep it as a round or canon by using it as a partner song.

Maybe it should also be thought of as THE classic partner song too!  

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6 Partner Songs For Middle School And The Developing Choir

Middle school and developing choirs are one of those ensembles that are extremely important for music but often neglected (or feared) by many music teachers. 

Some schools don’t even have them, but they’ll have a high school choir.

I sort of get it. I did run an upper elementary choir for a while, and it’s a whole other animal. 

When I first started, I made the mistake a lot of music teachers and choir directors make at some point with a new choir: 

You launch into teaching parts to pieces almost right away. 

There are many steps to teaching and building harmonic skills, and partner melodies like these are one of the most important. 

A few of my faves are below, but I’ll also offer this book written by one of my teachers, Dr. Georgia Newlin, as an excellent resource. 

It’s very much worth it! 

Check it out at West Music.

Ah, Poor Bird – Hey Ho Nobody Home

Good Night Ladies – Oh, When The Saint Come Marching In

Water Come A Me Eye – One More River

6 Best Partner Songs For Christmas

The holiday season is one of the busiest for music teachers. 

Almost everyone is expected to do a Christmas concert of some sort. 

If you want to up your students’ vocal game without getting too much into the harmony aspect of things, partner singing is the way to go.

They expand your performance options without making things too hard.  

Music K-8 has a number of original songs written specifically to partner with well-known holiday coral, hymns, and popular songs. 

I’d encourage you to check those out too. 

There are also a number of composers who have written or arranged Christmas tunes to partner with each other. 

Either way, there’s no shortage of options out there, if you know where to look. 

To consolidate, here are a few of my favorites to add to your selection for holiday programs. 

Further Reading: Spooky Halloween songs for music class

Carol Of The Angels – Angels We Have Heard On High

This one is an original partner song written to match the traditional melody of Angels We Have Heard On High. 

Pachelbel Canon – Jolly Old St. Nicholas

Both are familiar carols and can be made to work together in beginner and advanced choirs. 

Happy Winter – Frosty The Snowman

Happy Winter is original music made to partner with the catchy melodies in Frosty the Snowman. 

Save time with these 60 FREE Music Resources to use in your room right away!

Stop searching the whole internet to find good activities. I’ll help you cut to the chase with my favorite 60 FREE resources.

Zach VanderGraaff

Zach VanderGraaff is a K-5 music teacher in Michigan with 12 years of experience. He's the President of the Michigan Kodaly Educators and founder of the Dynamic Music Room.

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