Sky Boat Song

Meet Helen Dromey! An experienced violin and viola teacher, Helen leads the ESTA PG Cert in Teaching, and is Principal Teaching Fellow at the University of Southampton.  In this resource Helen shares some ideas about teaching Skye Boat Song from our Grade 1 syllabus.

I tend to teach this song by ear at first, explaining that traditional Scottish music was often learned this way. 

Begin by teaching the melody by ear, creating a more authentic experience. If pupils know the tune and like to work aurally, provide them with the first note then take a step back to see what they can do independently, supporting as and when needed. For those pupils who need a little more direction, build the melody gradually. 

It can be helpful to teach the first phrase through each of its component parts before putting these together. For example:

  • Bar 1’s dotted rhythm on each of the open strings 
  • Next, try the pattern 0-1-0, 0-0 on each string 
  • Add “the drop”, i.e. dropping all three fingers onto the string (0-1-0, 3-3) 
  • Finally, “the hop”, i.e. moving the first finger from the A string to the D string   

These steps can be seen in the accompanying video. 

Helen shares some of her lesson ideas and activities in the padlet below to help pupils to develop their performance of Skye Boat Song. 

Now it's your turn!

Add your lesson ideas to the padlet below.

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Last modified: Thursday, 12 October 2023, 8:32 AM