Do you love singing with others?
Are you looking for useful songs to pick up or teach and sing instantly in harmony?
The answer to your search is musical rounds.
And better yet, use rounds to help with singing solfege and master multiple skills with single practice sessions.
My students, young and old, love singing in harmony, and this is why I pulled together this list of 11 solfege rounds for singing and playing.
Solfege rounds are ordinary rounds to help musicians sing in harmony without having to learn multiple parts. All musicians sing or play the same music, but groups start at different times.
Check out my favorite solfege rounds for singing and playing.
10 Solfege Rounds
Here are my 10 favorite solfege rounds.
Each song will have the sheet music, lyrics, and solfege in Flat.io.
Feel free to download or share the images (just please link back to here, where you found it).
Three Blind Mice
Are You Sleeping?
Row Row Row Your Boat
For notation and activities, check out Row Row Row Your Boat solfege.
Oh, How Lovely Is The Evening
Ding Dong Digga Digga Dong
Dona Nobis Pacem
Find the notations for this awesome and classic hymn on Beth’s Notes Plus.
Have You Seen The Ghost Of Tom?
Viva La Musica
Check out the sheet music here at the University of Michigan.
White Sand and Gray Sand
Sing Me Another
What Is A Round In Music?
A round is a specific type of canon in music, also called an infinite canon or perpetual canon.
All performers (we’ll say singers since this is how they’re traditionally performed) sing the same melody.
Different groups enter at different times, called episodes.
Rounds sound great when done correctly because the melodies are written to create good-sounding harmonies.
This is often done with the sequencing of phrases.
A sequence is when one phrase is the same or similar to the second but starting on a different pitch.
Sequencing two phrases a 3rd apart causes it to outline chords and triads.
They also outline bass lines or the roots of the chords.
Rounds have been around for hundreds of years.
The oldest known song in English, Summer is icumen in, is a round.
They’re popular because they’re usually easy to sing and provide a quick way to perform in harmony.
The circular motion of the melody allows for it to continue repeating without end, but when it does want to end, the end of any episode sounds pleasant.
Solfege has been around just as long as rounds and canons.
Check out solfege syllables and where they come from.
What Is The Difference Between A Round And A Canon?
A round is a simplified canon.
They’re typically shorter and less complicated melodically.
The hallmark of both musical compositions is that multiple groups sing the same material while starting in different places.
Rounds reach the end of their song and start over.
Because of this, each of their phrases or episodes reach a pleasing or, at least, intentional cadence.
More complicated canons start at the beginning and run through until the end.
They don’t repeat when they get to the end.
The overall material is usually longer than a round (and often more complicated harmonically).
Very few people have actually sung a complex canon; it’s often just a round they’re singing.
Calling a round a canon isn’t wrong because a round is a type of canon.
This video showcases the most famous canon, Pachelbel’s Canon in D.
Note how the colors show different entrances, and the shapes show the melodies.
How Does Solfege Help?
Singing these rounds are fun enough; why add solfege?
Solfege helps in a number of ways.
While it’s not needed, it pushes the learning to higher levels.
Learn The Melody Quicker
For students familiar with solfege, they’ll pick the melody of these rounds quickly.
By learning and practicing solfege patterns, they connect and apply their learning to other songs.
It’s not unheard of for experienced students (even elementary ones) to sing these rounds in solfege on the first or second try.
Highlight How Chords Work
Of course, one of the biggest benefits of rounds is how easily you get to sing in harmony.
Singing these in solfege helps to highlight how the harmonies and chords work.
For example, when 3 groups are singing Row, Row, slow down, and stop on any given beat.
Ask students to hold the note on solfege.
Label it with the correct chord and talk about what it’s made of.
Now, they’re starting to piece together chords in a practical way.
Another trick I love doing is making them stop singing when they are on a V chord.
As all musicians know, a V chord sounds so unfinished; it bugs you.
I love making students of all ages stop there.
They go crazy, and it’s an impactful way of making chord functions hit home.
Learn about solfege ladders and how they help learn music.
Pushes Ear Training
Ear training, or inner hearing, is all about recognizing patterns.
Too often, musicians separate their solfege practice from the actual making of music.
It’s not supposed to be that way!
Using solfege when singing real songs like these rounds push your brain to connect the patterns and how they sound with real music.
It shows you how these patterns occur in a real musical context.
And this is the whole point of learning solfege in the first place.
Allows You To Change Keys Easily
The key you see many songs written in may not be the best key for your group.
This depends largely on the singers you have.
But when your kids understand and sing rounds in solfege, it’s easy to bump up or down the key into a range fitting for them.
They don’t need to worry about notes; they’ll just apply their understanding of scales.
This works even with instrumentalists.
I’ve worked with beginning band students on this idea, and it blows their mind how easy it is.
I once had a student who took private piano lessons from age 3 (from someone else, not me).
He competed in national competitions and was often placed in the top 3 for his age group.
At the time I met him, he was 10 years old.
He felt bored to learn some of the things I taught (understandably, the kid’s a prodigy).
But when I applied our solfege learning to changing keys, a lightbulb went off for him.
He immediately went to my piano and started changing the keys of the concerto he was learning at the time.
He thanked me and was excited.
He told me he was struggling with his teacher to learn how to change keys and how scales were supposed to work, but our solfege study made perfect sense to him.
Builds Fluency In Music
What is fluency?
When teachers talk about fluency in reading, they talk about how smoothly a student reads and speaks their sentences.
It’s not broken up.
A student has the ability to look ahead and read the sentences and story in an authentic and meaningful way.
Fluency applies to music.
It’s about going beyond plunking out notes and rhythms.
Just like readers need to spend time learning to recognize, spell, and say words put together, musicians do the same thing with solfege.
Raise more fluency with these 8 solfege exercises.
Other Singing Round Resources
Here are a few of my favorite round and canon resources.
These ones range in difficulty to cover the younger and the older ages of musicians.
All levels, from amateur to an expert, may gain a lot from singing through these resources.
Disclaimer: I own and use all these books, but the links here are affiliate in nature, which means I may earn a small commission if you purchase one of these at no extra cost to you.
150 Rounds For Singing And Teaching
This book isn’t designed for younger grades only; some of these get quite difficult.
A large number of rounds (all rounds!) means you won’t have any shortage of music to pull.
A must-have for any musician and music teacher covering a range of ages and ability levels.
The King’s Singers Book of Rounds, Canons, and Partsongs
This collection of 99 rounds, canons, and partsongs is more for the older and more skilled musician.
It focuses on bringing out the traditional rounds and canons of the Renaissance and Baroque periods when such music was in its heyday.
The Book of Canons (First Steps in Music series)
Any elementary or middle school music teacher needs to have this book of canons.
Dr. Feierabend collected these with younger learners in mind, but I find them to be good exercises for any age of students, but especially newer singers.
The songs are delightful and authentic.
ROUND the World: Teaching Harmony with Multicultural Rounds and Canons
With the new emphasis on honoring different cultures (and rightfully so), it’s important to showcase multicultural music where possible.
This book does just that with easily accessible and harmonizing rounds for all singers to enjoy.
My students get excited when I pull this book out.
I hope you enjoyed learning these solfege rounds.
I love singing rounds, and every one of my students has as well.
It’s a perfect way to get into harmony without needing to teach a million different parts.
From simple to complex, rounds and canons are an integral part of the music and a must for all music classrooms.