Seven Sassy Sailors

by Donna Rhodenizer 

Tongue Twister Song for Young Singers (ages 10 and up) 

Seven Sassy Sailors - Songs for Young Singers - by Donna Rhodenizer

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!

Seven Sassy Sailors - Lyrics - Song by Donna Rhodenizer

Click on the lyrics and sing along

Melody guide + accompaniment

Bonus accompaniment (piano + accordion)


Audio Tracks

     - Accompaniment with Melody guide (slower tempo)

     - Piano accompaniment (faster tempo)

     - Bonus accompaniment (piano + accordion)

Print Pages 

     - 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.

Teaching Strategies

   Expressive Singing

  • Encourage singers to read the lyrics out loud before learning the melody. 
  • Discuss the story of the song.
Seven Sassy Sailors
  • How does the feeling of each verse change as the song progresses?
  • 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?
  • 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.
Sorry Sassy Sailor

   Tongue Twister warm-ups

   Use Seven Sassy Sailors to help your singers warm up and have some fun:


  • 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 first line of Seven Sassy Sailors as a tongue twister warm up (or sing the first line of your favourite verse).

Seven Sassy Sailors - music sample
  • Sing the single-line 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!)
  • Choose a word that you will not sing. When you are singing the song, instead of singing the chosen word, clap the rhythm of the missing word.  
Seven Sassy Sailors

   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.

Theatrical Elements

  • 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.
  • A life jacket
  • A hat or uniform (captain or crew!)
7 Sassy Sailors

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)

Donna Rhodenizer - Seven Sassy Sailors - song for young children

Composer, Elementary Music Specialist

Donna Rhodenizer

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.                              

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