The ABC’s and Twinkle Twinkle Twinkle on Throwback Thursday

Today’s classic, with a mischievous twist, was submitted by member Paul Nye.

B&W Paul PROMO standing 388993_479334002094087_146895155_n copy

Most of us who sing songs for kids are aware that the melodies to many of the songs we sing are very similar – if not, downright the same. This is true with the two songs I’ve morphed together because…well, I kinda like messing with little kids’ heads.

Actually, there is some brain research that indicates that singing a song like this ignites a whole bunch of neurons in those little brains. I’ve used it in my music class quite successfully with many variations of singing.

The easiest is to divide the kids up in some manner – i.e. down the center of the room, or boys on one side of the room and girls on the other. The entire class sings “The ABC Song” first (twice on the recording), followed by “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” (also twice). Then have the boys sing “The ABC Song” while the girls sing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” simultaneously. I let them close their eyes. After that verse, they switch, with the boys singing “Twinkle Twinkle….” and the girls singing “The ABC Song” at the same time.

Those little brains get heated up pretty good. Actually, it’s a good exercise in teaching kids to focus in an environment where there are a lot of distractions. Experiment with your singing groups, and have fun with it.

NOISE ALERT: Kids love to scream this song exercise at each other. Just warning you. Deal with it the way you feel is best. One more thing. “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” is also the same melody. I’m sure there are others. If you can’t think of one, make one up. I’m trying to figure out a way to mix “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” in with the two songs, but my brain and recording software can’t handle either.

Brief background on the songs: The “ABC Song” was first copyrighted in 1835 by the Boston-based music publisher, Charles Bradlee, and given the title “the A.B.C., a German air with variations for the flute with an easy accompaniment for the piano forte.” The musical arrangement was attributed to Louis Lew Maire (sometimes Lemaire), an 18th-century composer. This was “Entered according to act of Congress, in the year 1835, by C. Bradlee, in the clerk’s office of the District Court of Massachusetts”, according to the Newberry Library, which also says, “The theme is that used by Mozart for his piano variations, Ah, nous diary-ie, mama.” This tune is the same as the tune for “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep.” If you’d like more information on the songs, Google is a good source….kinda.

Lastly, I would recommend you listen to the song with headphones first. The vocals parts on verses 5 & 6 are split.
Apologies for the “demo” sounding nature of the recording. Vocal is buried a bit in case you’d like to use it in class. If anyone would like the track without the vocal, please email me at
Lyrics not printed. You should know them.


  1. Cool activity to do with kids, Paul! You are right–this requires great focus and filtering which is excellent practice. I would think this to be an excellent sort of pre-requisite to singing rounds, my thinking being that if kids can successfully filter lyrics that would lead them to be better at filtering and focusing on their own lyrics AND melody when being sung simultaneously with others. Would you agree?

  2. Super idea! Just to set the record straight, whoever filed the copyright on 1835 with the clerk at the District Court of Massachusetts obviously didn’t speak French. Mozart’s variations were titled, “Ah! Vous Dirai-je, Maman.”

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