Jolly Sailors


Sail into a fun mini musical-theatre song with young singers ages 12 and under. The main character of this song is a jolly soul, happy to be a sailor and excited that “adventure is our job!”  The cook makes funny, lumpy stew that is served daily and there are snorty snores that must be endured at night aboard the ship. In spite of these potentially annoying situations, the singer concludes that there is no better life than sailing on the sea.

The exuberance of the lyrics is supported by a jaunty melody, written primarily with step-wise movement and a few interval jumps to create melodic interest. The range fits comfortably within the octave in the D4-D5 range, perfect for young voices.

 Jolly Sailors is ideal for young singers with the desire to sing an expressive storytelling song and start developing their theatrical talents. Collect a few nautical props to enhance the musical presentation and get ready to entertain the listening audience with a theatrical performance of Jolly Sailors.

Listen to the Donna & Andy performance track:

Download Includes:

  • Vocal score
  • Lead sheet
  • Director/piano score
  • One-page vocal warm up: Seven Sassy Sailors
  • Lyrics
  • Accompaniment – with melody guide
  • Accompaniment – piano
  • Bonus – accordion + piano accompaniment track
  • Donna & Andy band – instrumental track
  • Donna & Andy – performance track
  • Teaching Tips & Strategies – pdf

Jolly Sailors

Audio & Lyrics

Jolly Sailors - Song Composed by Donna Rhodenizer - Lyrics - SAMPLE

Part of a Song collection

Jolly Sailors is one of 10 songs from the Donna & Andy CD  "A Jolly Bunch Are We"

Song book coming soon.

Bonus Audio Tracks / CD

Stream or purchase from many music streaming sites including:

Apple Music

Get audio tracks and activities with a Donna & Andy Membership

A Jolly Bunch Are We (Donna & Andy performance and instrumental) tracks (20) are available for download or physical CD on this website.

Teaching Tips & Strategies

Teaching Tips and Strategies - included when you purchase Jolly Sailors. To view - scroll down this page or click here

Composer's Notes

Jolly Sailors

I like to write sea songs. Jolly Sailors is a jovial glimpse into the life of a sailor. I had fun playing with words that either repeated or that had similar structures such as the captain who is a “jolly jolly soul”, the cook who makes a “yummy, runny stew” with “funny, bumpy lumps” and the tribulations of sleeping in tight quarters with “comfy cosy bunks” where “loud and snorty snores” can be heard throughout the night. On a ship, one must make the best of it as there isn’t anywhere else to go! I wanted to keep the sailors happy with their lot in life and they do decide that “adventure is our job” which sounds pretty exciting. I originally envisioned a brass quintet kind of vibe for this song, but as it went along, it turned out to be more of a jolly “oom pah” kind of sound. As a composer, one of my tasks is to shape a song and sometimes that means changing my preconceived ideas of how it should be and letting the song develop its own path. This was a fun song to write and it is also fun to sing! We included it on our Donna & Andy CD A Jolly Bunch are We (released September 2023) and had the pleasure of including our studio musicians as the sailors working the ropes on the ship with a gusty “heave ho” or two. They really got into the spirit of the task and their exuberant vocalizing is an entertaining part of the recorded track.

You Are invited

You are invited to send us your performance of Jolly Sailors.

Maybe your video will be featured here on this page.

When you have enjoyed practicing and performing this song with your students - please drop by again and leave a review on this page. Thanks!

Donna with Jolly Sailor


Jolly Sailors supports young singers with developing voices.

  • Jolly Sailors is a three-verse song, making it most suitable for young singers who have had previous experience.
  • A short re-intro is included between each verse providing a bit of “breathing space” and the opportunity to prepare for the upcoming verse.
  • Vocal range of an octave (D4-D5) with most of the song well placed in the mid range and only one short reach into the upper range.
  • Jolly Sailors is a great length for use at a summer music theatre camp or for teachers looking for songs that are a bit shorter to use throughout the year.
  • The three-verse structure can work with younger students in group classes, assigning different verses to different combinations of students within the group.

Teaching Strategies

   Expressive Singing

  • Encourage singers to read the lyrics out loud before learning the melody. 
  • Discuss the story of the song.
  • Have the singers ever wished they could sail around the world on a ship?
  • Would they like to be the captain in charge of all the crew?
  • How do they feel about eating lumpy stew or sleeping in bunk beds near other crew members who snore?
  • Discuss which words the singer will emphasize to create an expressive performance.
  • What consonants need to be crisp and clean to clearly tell the story for the listening audience?
  • Look for the word groups that provide a chance to emphasize similar sounding vowels or consonants (funny, bumpy lumps and loud, snorty snores).
  • Add dynamics or other musical contrasts to sing the song expressively.
  • Jolly Sailors is a high energy, humorous song. Have fun with it!


   Understanding the meaning of the lyrics helps the students when they are presenting the “story” of the song.

  • Have students read the lyrics and find any words that they do not understand.

   Tongue Twister warm-ups

   Jolly Sailors has some tricky lyrics to master (check out bars 6 and 10).

   To help your singers warm up and have some fun, try the tongue twister:

   Seven sassy sailors sailed the seven salty seas.

   (This is included with the PDF download.)

  Say the tongue twister using crisp consonants.

  • Set a metronome at a slow tempo and say the tongue twister.
  • Say the tongue twister multiple times and gradually increase the speed each time.

 Sing the tongue twister warm up.

  • Sing the whole tongue twister on each note of the scale.
  • Add actions: hold up seven fingers for the number 7, salute on the word sailor, and make wave motions with your hands on the word “seas”.
  • Eliminate the words with actions, but continue to do the action associated with the missing word. (This is a challenge!)

Theatrical Elements

  • Add actions to enhance the theatrical presentation of Jolly Sailors. Remember, the musical presentation is still the focal point of the performance. Actions need to support the song, not “take over” or detract from the singing.
  • When presenting Jolly Sailors for a recital or school performance, add a few props or costumes to add visual interest to the performance.
  • A mop and pail
  • A bowl of fake stew
  • A hat or uniform (captain or crew!)
7 Sassy Sailors

Other Performance Options 

  • Younger students may sing Jolly Sailors as a unison group performance. Assign each student one of the verses to learn to be the “anchor” for their verse, although all students will sing all verses.
  • Singing the entire song with a small group in unison may be enough support for younger students to manage the lyrics for all three verses.
  • Add hearty spoken “Heave ho’s” to the performance. "Heave! Ho! Hey, heave ho!" fits in the first two bars of the musical interludes between verses and before singing the final two bars.
Donna Rhodenizer - Accordion with the Blue Nose, Lunenburg NS

Composer, Elementary Music Specialist

Donna Rhodenizer

Donna Grew up in Nova Scotia, Canada, where no matter where you are, you are never more than 56 kilometers (approximately 35 miles) from the ocean! This might be why Donna is inspired to use the ocean as a theme in some of her songs. Jolly Sailors is a great example of the high energy, humorous songs Donna enjoys writing for upper elementary school singers (age 8-12). Over her 37-year career as an elementary music educator, Donna has written many songs in this style which have been premiered by her Grade 4-5 choir. Adding costumes and a few props and letting the students bring their unique energy to the presentation, creates a fun performance for both the singers and the audience.

Donna has written over five hundred songs including repertoire for solo singers, choirs, and school groups, as well as songs for recorder, violin, handbells, piano, and organ. Donna’s music has found a place in the hearts and music libraries of music teachers and students around the world.

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Vocal Range

D4 – D5




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