My Good Old Man

Okay, I'm going to shock you all and NOT post a "Halloween" song!!    This song does, however, have a "spooky" element to it and I love to teach it to my 4th graders in the fall as early preparation for ti-tom. 

Here's the song:

The students LOVE this song.  When I first introduce it I sing it and I tell them to whisper the responses, which I have written out on flash cards.  Eventually this turns into a game:

Formation:  Students are seated, either in assigned seats on the risers or in a circle, with one student not able to see the rest of the class.
Action: As the class sings the song, one student is assigned to be the "old man" or "old woman."  This assigned student is the only person to whisper the spoken parts.  The person, who is unable to see the rest of the class, at the end of the song tries to guess who the "old man/woman" was.

While teaching this song, I use a PowerPoint with this song.  The first few slides were created by a colleague of mine in my district, but the "pedagogical" pages I created.  You should be able to access the whole PowerPoint here.

Here is the song text slides of the PowerPoint:

Here's where we get into the "meat and potatoes" of the song.  First we keep a steady beat while singing the song.  Second, we tap the rhythm of the song.  Third, we tap the rhythm while reading this slide and seeing how the rhythm/text align to the beats of the song.

Once we get into the later preparation of ti-tom we look for where we need to add ties to make the rhythm match the song.    For this particular song it's on the first rhythm slide:

 After we have figured out as a class where the tie belongs we read the song with the tie.  If we are in preparation of ti-tom, this is where the use of the slide show ends for that day.

 If we are practicing ti-tom we will continue on with the PowerPoint and read these next few slides:

All the melodic elements will be practiced, as they are all known so once ti-tom has been presented we continue on with these slides:

Mystery songs are also fun to use with the students.  I put the music only up of songs that they have previously read.  When we first use mystery songs we will derive them as a class.  First we clap the rhythm.  Second, we sing the solfa without particular attention to rhythm.  Thirdly we put the two together.  From there the class derives the song together.  As they have more experience with this process we turn this into an inner-hearing exercise where they go through this process more independently.  They do this work first in small groups multiple times.  After much practice, they move on to trying to figure out how to figure out the mystery song independently.

Here's a three part arrangement of "My Good Old Man."  I'm so sorry to report that I don't know where I got this!  But this can work nicely on a concert.


  1. I love this song and so do the students. I still hear Gabor's voice singing it in my head, I learned it initially from him. �� Thanks so much for the power point, I will definitely use it (and transfer it to a SMART Board file!)

  2. Thanks Tanya! I'll send you the original too. See, I wish I had a SMART Board!

  3. If you ever get one I have sooo much stuff to give you!


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