Ferry Me Across the Water
Composed by Matthew Emery
Voicing: Two-part treble
Catalog number: AMP 0932
text by Christina Rossetti
Teaching notes ror Ferry me Across the Water – Matthew Emery
Notes written by Rosemary_Bannerman for Grade4–6 students.
Preparing students to learn the song:
Start by reading the text to the students, discussing the author ( Christina
Rossetti – 1830–1894) and the time frame in which the lyrics were written (1870s), talk about the story of the song, including that it is a conversation
between two people, the boatman and the rider.
- Listen to a recording of the song, or if no recording is
available play through the song including both the accompaniment and
the melody, either separately or at the same time.
- Discuss the composer, who he is, how long he has been
composing, how he would find this text.
- Discuss how the composer has made a connection to the
lyrics by the way he has written the music, in particular, the piano
accompaniment. ( ie. the flowing feeling of the accompaniment, both in
its rhythm and in the up and down motion of the melody – you can hear it
and you can see it, This paints a picture of the water and makes a perfect
background for the melody.
Learning the song:
- Concepts: Tempo Marking, Time Signature
With spirit, feel 2 beats per bar – means fast tempo, so fast that even though the
music is written as 4 beats per bar (time signature), it must be felt as 2 beats per
bar in order to create a flowing feeling. In order to accurately read the music,
students need to know that this means that, quarter notes become eighth notes,
half notes become quarter notes, eighth notes become sixteenth notes.
Concepts: Listening and Note Reading
- Play through the melody of the song from beginning to end while
students follow in their music. Have students work in pairs, stronger
readers with weaker readers, and have the stronger readers track the music
while the weaker readers follow along.
- Play through the melody again, this time stopping at various
points in the song and asking students to name the pitch, and lyric of the
note that you stopped on.
- Have student listen to the melody one more time, while lip
synching the song. Ensure that students arc still tracking the music with
- Have students sing through the song while you play the
melody and/or sing along with them.
Perfecting the song:
Things to watch out for:
Be sure that the pickup notes ( the eighth notes at the end oft he bar that
begin and are throughout each phrase) are:
- prepared properly by students breathing on the beat before they begin to
sing ( either beat one or two)
- sung lightly with the weight/emphasis going to the note/lyric
that is on the first beat of the next bar
- In the Treble One part, ensure that singers prepare to have the correct
amount of air support and proper tone placement for the &ldquo:ferry you.<”) (fourth line D–D–D) phrase ending. This may require staggered breathing (breathing while lips synching a word, staggering placement of breath with the singer beside you)
- Be sure that all cut offs are accurately timed, so that the
accompaniment is not overshadowed by the vocal part. Remember, in 2
half notes are quarter notes, so some ending notes of Phrases are very
- In the Treble Two part, ensure that the final phrase “Please
ferry me” is sung as a softer plea for a ride across the water, in order to
sing the pitches accurately and to achieve the correct balance between the
- Some of the lyrics are very quick. In order to achieve a flow,
yet get in all of the text, have students, practice saying the lyrics in
rhythm, pulsing the lyrics that is on beat one of each bar and enunciating
clearly, but moving their mouths/jaws as little as possible.
My students and I thoroughly enjoyed learning, recording
and performing Ferry Me Across the Water. It's one of those Pieces that
quickly becomes a favorite! I'm sure your students will feel the same way
Click here to see a sample.
Click here to listen to a recording (MP3).
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