by Donna Rhodenizer

Orcas - by Donna Rhodenizer

Orcas are fascinating members of the whale family. It is a spectacular sight to see an Orca breach out of the water and splash back down in a “ginormous” bellyflop.  In this simple two-verse song, young singers will have the opportunity to use their expressive singing and present some facts about these amazing ocean dwellers.


Audio Tracks

     - Melody guide + accompaniment

     - Accompaniment only

Print Pages

     - Vocal score

     - Full score

     - Printed lyrics

For the Teacher

     - Teaching Strategies

     - Blog post pdf


“Orcas” is composed to support young singers with developing voices.

  • Two short verses
  • The opening phrase is the same for both verses. This creates a longer song without overburdening the young students with too many lyrics.
  • Short re-intro between verses for a chance to catch one’s breath, but not so long that it leaves room for fidgeting!
  • Narrow vocal range of a fifth, from D4-A4

Teaching Strategies

   Expressive Singing

  • Encourage singers to read the lyrics out loud before learning the melody. Discuss the orca facts presented in the lyrics.
  • Find words the singer will want to emphasize to create an expressive performance. How will the singer emphasize “belly flop” and “kaboom” to create an expressive performance?
  • Explore singing with contrasting dynamics.
  • Focus on a beautiful vowel sound when singing the word “blue” for three beats.
  • Give the singer the option to sing expressively or speak the final lyric, “Wouldn’t you?

   Rhythmic Elements

  • Clap the rhythm pattern of the song.
  • Create a body percussion performance of “Orcas” by adding a specific motion for each rhythmic element of the song (e.g. clapping, patsching, sliding, and splashing motions)

   Melodic Phrases

  • Find the phrases that are an ascending line from do to so. Find the phrases that are a descending melodic line from so down to do. Can you see the alternating pattern of these two phrases?
  • As you sing, move your hand to show the ascending or descending melodic line at the end of the phrases. (bars 5-6 and bars 9-10 and again at bars 16-17 and bars 19-20).
  • Sing and sign the solfege for each ascending and descending line you discovered.

Did You Know...

Orcas are also known as “killer whales”.

Orcas are friendly to humans and do not attack unless they feel threatened. They got their “killer whale” name from the fact that they hunt other larger whales, and even great white sharks.

Orcas can live from 50-80 years.

Orca offspring stay with their mothers for their entire lives.

Orcas live in family groups called pods.

Have fun researching more facts about orcas!

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