Ferry Me Across the Water

Composed by Matthew Emery
Voicing: Two-part treble
Instrumentation: Piano
Catalog number: AMP 0932
Price: $1.80

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 their partner.
  • 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 short.
  • 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 vocal parts.
  • 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 too!

Click here to see a sample.

Click here to listen to a recording (MP3).



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