Seven Sassy Sailors
by Donna Rhodenizer
Tongue Twister Song for Young Singers (ages 10 and up)
Tongue twisters are a fun challenge and a great warm up for young singers. The goal is to keep all the words from tangling up while still presenting a believable story! The seven sassy sailors in this song find themselves in “hot water” as they sink their ship and require rescuing. Spoiler alert: they do survive the ordeal!
Seven Sassy Sailors can be included in your repertoire library as a warm up or as an expressive storytelling song that is perfect for young singers. The shifts between major and minor help set the stage and tell the tale. Have fun singing about these sassy, saucy, sorry, soggy sailors!
Click on the lyrics and sing along
Melody guide + accompaniment
Bonus accompaniment (piano + accordion)
- Accompaniment with Melody guide (slower tempo)
- Piano accompaniment (faster tempo)
- Bonus accompaniment (piano + accordion)
- Vocal score
- Full score
- Printed lyrics
For the Teacher
- Teaching Strategies
- Blog post pdf
Tongue Twister warm-up song: Seven Sassy Sailors
- 3-phrase sample with teaching strategies
Seven Sassy Sailors supports young singers with developing voices
- Seven Sassy Sailors is a four-verse song with lots of challenging, tongue-twisting words. However, the repeated pattern of the lyrics helps keep the “lyric load” reasonable for young singers.
- 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 a sixth (C4-A5) with step-wise movement makes the melody simple so singers can concentrate on the tricky words!
- Seven Sassy 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 four-verse structure can work with younger singers in group classes, assigning different verses to different combinations of students within the group.
- Encourage singers to read the lyrics out loud before learning the melody.
- Discuss the story of the song.
- Discuss which words the singer will emphasize to create an expressive performance.
- The “sinking” verse is in a minor key and has a slower tempo. Discuss how this supports the lyrics of the third verse.
- Sing the repeated words in bars 7-8 and 9 with contrasting dynamics to create interest and sing the song expressively.
- Seven Sassy Sailors is 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.
- What is the difference between a sloop and a schooner? Is that two names for the same kind of ship or did the sailors use more than one kind of boat?
- An S.O.S. is a standard distress call. What do the letters stand for?
- Look up any other unfamiliar words and/or discuss their meaning.
Tongue Twister warm-ups
Use Seven Sassy Sailors to help your singers warm up and have some fun:
Sing the first line of Seven Sassy Sailors as a tongue twister warm up (or sing the first line of your favourite verse).
Super Tongue Twister Challenge
- Choose the first line of your favourite verse to sing as a one-line, same-tone tongue twister.
- The teacher will show a solfege hand sign to indicate what note the student will sing. e.g. Sing the twister four times: once on do, once on mi, once on so, finishing on do.
- Add actions to enhance the theatrical presentation of Seven Sassy 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 Seven Sassy Sailors for a recital or school performance, add a few props or costumes to add visual interest to the performance.
TONGUE TWISTER GENERATOR created by Jennifer Trites. Download the PDF at:
Try the notoriously difficult, but hilariously fun tongue twister song:
Pretty, Itty, Bitty, Kitty Unicorn (Nikki Loney & Donna Rhodenizer)
Composer, Elementary Music Specialist
Donna loves crafting song lyrics that are humorous. Tongue twisters that challenge the singer while still telling a story are tricky to sing and tricky to write as well. Seven Sassy Sailors is a great example of the high energy, humorous songs Donna enjoys writing for upper elementary school singers.During her 37-year career as an elementary music educator, Donna has written many songs which have been premiered by her Grade 4-5 choir. Her total output of songs now totals over 500 and she continues to write about things that catch her imagination, turning them into songs for solo singers, school groups and choirs of all ages. She also writes 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.