by Donna Rhodenizer
A Song for Young Singers (8+)
Adults may groan at the thought of a heavy snowfall, but children are delighted to grab a sled and head for the nearest snow-covered hill! Sliding down the hill is even more exciting when you can pile a bunch of people on a toboggan and share the experience.
“Tobogganing” is a great song to add to your library of songs for young singers. It employs the technique of tone painting while presenting the merits of heading for the nearest snowy hill for some sliding fun.
Audio Tracks - Tobogganing
- Melody guide + accompaniment
- Accompaniment only
Print Scores - Tobogganing
- Vocal score
- Full score
- Printed lyrics
For The Teacher
- Teaching Strategies
- Blog post - pdf
Tobogganing When I was a KidAs a child, I loved tobogganing with my siblings and a bunch of the next-door neighbours. I would have been one of the smaller kids on the hill, so I wouldn't be allowed on the back of the toboggan (the steering location). I seem to recall I might have been stuffed under the curl of the toboggan at the front - probably because I was small enough to fit in there! We had a long 6-8 foot, wooden toboggan so there was room for a LOT of us. We lived on a farm and directly behind our house was a big hill which was used as pasture land in the summer. In the winter it was a snowy, treeless playground. Trudging back up the hill was not as much fun, but the thrill of the ride down was worth it! Singing about tobogganing brings back lots of great winter memories.
Donna (red coat with pointy hat) plus two siblings and two next door neighbours heading out for some snow fun.
(There were more kids that day – but they didn’t make it into the photo!)
Songs for young singers are often simple in their structure, but there are many elements to explore with your students to help build a strong musical foundation.
- Explore the descending, stepwise movement at the beginning of each phrase.
- “Tone painting” or “word painting” is a technique that uses the music to literally reflect the topic of the lyrics. Discuss how the melody line and lyrics work together to tell the story of sliding down a snowy hill.
- Move your hand to create a visual representation of the falling and rising melody line. Can you show how the first phrase descends in small four note groups with small “raised bumps” along the way?
- Find the interval of a 4th at the end of the second phrase. Listen how this supports the idea of children flying off the toboggan (verse 1 - take a mighty spill) and the idea of the hill (verse 2).
- The final phrase returns to the top of the scale, just like returning to the top of the hill.
- For a challenge, sing the entire song using solfege names.
- Include “Tobogganing” as part of a winter theme.
- Explore winter vocabulary.
In addition to toboggans, what other sliding devices can be used to slide down a hill? (e.g. inner tubes, skis, etc.)
In some parts of the US a toboggan is the name they use for a hat!
Do you know any other names for winter hats?
Did You Know
The word “toboggan” likely originates from the word for sled by the Mi’kmaq (tobâkun) and/or Abenaki (udābāgan). French Canadians adopted the word in the early 1800s, but spelled it “tabaganne.”
Canadian Icons: Stories & Treasures
Composer, Elementary Music Specialist
Donna Rhodenizer is a Canadian composer who writes songs that children love to sing. She drew on her tobogganing experiences from her younger years as inspiration for this song, although as recently as 2021 she was seen sliding down a nearby hill with three of her grandchildren. When she is not outside playing in the snow, she keeps busy writing new songs for young singers. Donna has written well over 400 songs which are enjoyed by students and their teachers around the world.