Do you want to engage your students with songs they’re more familiar with outside music class?
Are you looking for ways to connect music learning to songs beyond the “traditional” classical songs?
It sounds like you want to incorporate more popular music into your classroom. When done effectively, this can do a lot to engage some of your more reluctant learners.
One of the best ways to use popular songs is through their melodic elements. But it can be hard to find solfege to popular songs.
I searched for pop songs in solfege and came up with this list of 7 for you to use in your classroom. I picked these ones based on appropriateness, melodic elements, and how much the students may recognize them.
- Can’t Stop The Feeling
- Star Wars
- Baby Shark
- All Star
- Hedwig’s Theme
- Shake It Off
- Someone Like You
Check out the rest of the post for the solfege and tips on how to use them.
When To Use Pop Songs In Solfege
There seem to be 2 main camps of music teachers in regards to pop songs in music class:
- Never use them, ever.
- Use them all the time!
I think, as with most things, the answer should be somewhere in the middle.
For those who don’t use pop songs, the argument is that pop songs aren’t good quality and time is better spent on songs of quality.
I understand this argument; I do feel that most popular songs aren’t going to be good enough quality to last the tests of time.
But some are going to! With your own professional experience, you have the power to pick songs you think have some innate quality to them.
For those who use pop songs all the time, the argument is that pop songs will engage more students in music class. And they do!
But you need to be careful about the appropriateness of songs, and you also need to find songs isolating the concepts you want to teach.
I also look at it this way, and I explain it to my students this way when they ask about doing so-and-so song (right now, it’s Old Town Road).
A teacher’s job is to teach you things you don’t know. Imagine if all you did in first grade on up is sing the ABCs.
You might say, “Yeah! That’s fun! I like doing the ABCs, and I’m good at it.”
But you’d never learn anything.
So I use songs they aren’t familiar with at all to teach them new things, but I’m happy to push that knowledge farther with popular songs on occasion.
And this is when I use pop songs in solfege!
After students are familiar with a musical concept I want to reinforce, I will then add in a popular song with this concept.
Check out this expert interview I did with 3 professionals on whether popular musicians are thieves!
7 Pop Songs In Do Re Mi Format
In this section, I’ll provide the popular songs with an image containing their notation. For many of these, there’s just an isolated part of the song to look at.
Even if the solfege concepts are beyond what your students know now, you can still use them (see tips below).
Note: Much of the solfege is simplified to make it easier to sing and read.
For pop song material, check out these popular songs with steady beat.
Want to check out more easy pop songs for kids? Check out Hal Leonard’s collection of 25 Pop Hits for kids arranged for easy piano.
This is where I find a lot of the other ones I use in my room.
#1 Can’t Stop The Feeling
This song is one most students still know because of its relationship with the Trolls movie (which has spin-off content and a sequel coming soon as of this writing).
The song is blatantly positive and fun to do. Most students will instantly recognize this.
Bonus: Also in this movie is the track, Hair Up, which samples from In The Hall Of The Mountain King.
#2 Star Wars
While the Star Wars main theme may not be a pop song, it’s still a popular song, and one that most students will recognize even if they aren’t Star Wars fans.
For many of your boys, hearing this song will get them instantly engaged with the learning.
Plus, this could be a launching point for discussing composers, music and its relationship to movies, and themes representing people and events.
#3 Baby Shark
Don’t hate me, and don’t knock this song. Sure, it’s recently become popular due to certain YouTube videos, but the song actually has roots in camp songs stretching back decades.
The solfege to this song is super simple and can be sung using sol-la-ti-do or do-re-mi-fa.
#4 All Star
If you aren’t aware already, All Star is still very popular with students due to its presence in the kid’s movie, Shrek, and its status as a consistent “meme.”
Most of my students love hearing this song, and they literally don’t believe me when I tell them the song was released in 1999.
#5 Hedwig’s Theme
Harry Potter is still quite popular with older kids today, and this theme is hauntingly beautiful with its unusual scale mode. You wouldn’t think such a slow and pretty melodic line would capture the ears of modern students, but it does.
And this is just another sign that quality music will always last.
#6 Shake It Off
Like her or not, Taylor Swift knows how to write ear worms. Her songs get in your head and stay there for quite a while.
Shake It Off is a little older now, but students still recognize it and most love it (even the ones that claim they don’t).
Bonus: This song has the exact same form as Let It Go.
#7 Someone Like You
Adele has faded a bit in recent years, but her music is still considered to be some of the most powerful in recent memory.
Her powerful ballad is simple in its melody but stunning in its execution. Learning the solfege isn’t hard because of the slower tempo, and I have caught my kids singing this in the hallway after we’ve done the solfege in class.
Tips For Using Pop Songs In Solfege In Your Music Class
How and what do you do to use solfege pop songs in music class? Here are some of my favorite tips:
- Make it a mystery song
- Isolate a part they already know how to sing/read
- Use it as a reward for behavior or demonstrating an understanding of solfege concepts
- Cut up phrases from the song and ask small groups to reassemble them
- Connect a similar motif from one of the “normal” music class songs with this song
I hope you find this list of solfege to 7 popular songs helpful. When you use pop songs occasionally, students may be able to better relate and connect their learning outside normal school time.
I have to tell you, I wasn’t so good at singing popular music until I went through the 30 Day Singer program.
This affordable and online program improved my overall singing and gave me tips on how to get better at singing in the pop genre. (My students love it too!)