Fourth Grade - Music - Lesson 17 - Jamaica Farewell


Sing "Jamaica Farewell" in unison.

Locate Jamaica on a world map.

Hear the term calypso rhythm.


Classroom-size world map

Text for "Jamaica Farewell" (attached) for student copies

Text and music for "Jamaica Farewell" (attached) for student copies

Recording of "Jamaica Farewell" sung by Harry Belafonte, see Suggested Recording

Suggested Book

Sharma, Elizabeth. The Voice. New York: Thomson Learning, 1993.

The author has done a whole series of books whose format and aims are similar. They deal with brass, keyboards, percussion, strings, and woodwinds. Although the reading is easy for fourth graders, the material is very worthwhile and the approach is truly multicultural. The first verse and chorus of "Jamaica Farewell" are included.

Suggested Recordings

Calypso, Harry Belafonte, CD RCA 53801

Island in the Sun--The Songs of Irving Burgie, CD Agnel/EMI 52222

Background For the Teacher

Beginning in the 1920s, the music heard in the United States coming from the Caribbean was primarily the calypso of Trinidad. Originally, lyrics were in Creole, but as American record labels developed a market, the words gradually switched to English. By the end of World War II, steel-pans, or steel drums had been constructed from oil drums in Tobago as well as Trinidad, and the sound of these instruments caught on as an ideal accompaniment to the calypso tunes that were becoming more and more popular in the U.S.

In Jamaica, musicians further combined the calypso and steel drum with an indigenous mento folk beat. Much of the music that was first heard as performed by Harry Belafonte in the 1950s was an outgrowth of these elements. (The sophisticated percussion sounds are also similar to the highlife music coming out of Nigeria at the time.)

Belafonte recorded "Jamaica Farewell," on his 1956 recording Calypso, which became a great hit and was the first album in the U.S. to sell over a million copies. The Song was so tied to Belafonte that people tend to think he wrote the song. In fact, eight of the eleven songs from the Calypso album were written by a songwriter named Irving Burgie who grew up in a West Indian neighborhood in Brooklyn, N.Y. Some of his family were still in the islands; some in Brooklyn, surrounded by the food and rhythms of the Caribbean.

In the Second World War, Burgie served in the Far East and began studying music formally with a man in his outfit. He returned to study more music at Juilliard and elsewhere, mostly classical. By 1949, when Burgie had finished his formal study of music, folk music was making a great comeback, and "Jamaica Farewell" was the first song he wrote. In New York, a scriptwriter for Belafonte heard some of Burgie's songs in 1954 and created a Caribbean show for Belafonte that included "Banana Boat Song," (also known as "Day-O,") as well as the "Jamaica Farewell." (Irving Burgie has now recorded some his songs as he originally conceived them. It is called Island in the Sun--The Songs of Irving Burgie, on EMI/Angel.)


Tell the students that they are going to learn a song that was made popular by an African American singer in the 1950s named Harry Belafonte. (Write his name on the board.) Pass out copies of the text of "Jamaica Farewell" and play a recording of the song if you have it. When they have heard the song, ask them: Where is Jamaica? (island in the Caribbean) Have someone find the island on the map. Write the word calypso on the board and tell them that is the musical term for the very special rhythm they hear in the song. Tell them something about the background of calypso music as a tradition in the islands, a great combination of rhythms with roots in Africa, sounds typical of the steel drums that were first made of oil drums on the islands of Trinidad and Tobago (show them on the map), and finally made popular in combination with some percussion sounds that developed on the island of Jamaica.

Ask them to read the words of the song, and suggest that they read them as much in the rhythm they remember from the recording as possible, adding some claps for the beats to help them along. Show them Kingston on the map and tell them it is the capital city of Jamaica. Tell them that salt fish is a way of preserving fish on an island that became common before refrigeration was available or affordable to the people. Akie (or akee) rice is a Jamaican dish made from rice plus the fruit of a special tree called akee that grows in the Caribbean. Ask them: Why do you think "the fruit is fine any time of the year"? (warm all year long, different fruits and flowers produced all year round)

Pass out the copies of the music to the students, so they can see it in notation. Chances are, the melody is so catchy and "singable," they won't use the music, but they will use it in the lesson that follows, for reviewing note values. Teach them the song line by line. (They may only be able to do the first verse and chorus, but they will enjoy having the rest of the words, because it paints such a nice picture of an old-fashioned outdoor market in Kingston.) When the song is familiar, a few students may be able to add some simple percussion with the palms of their hands on tables or desks, as with bongos.

Jamaica Farewell



Down away where the nights are gay

And the sun shines daily on the mountain top,

I took a trip on a sailing ship

And when I reached Jamaica I made a stop.


But I'm sad to say I'm on my way,

Won't be back for many a day.

And now my heart is down, my head is turning around,

I had to leave a little girl in Kingston Town.


Down at the market you can hear

Ladies sing out while on their heads they bear

Akie rice, salt fish are nice

And the fruit is fine any time of the year.



Sounds of laughter everywhere,

And the dancing girls sway to and fro.

I must declare that my heart is there,

'Though I've been from Maine to Mexico.


Fourth Grade - Music - Lesson 18 - Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport

Note for the Teacher

The several versions of the text of this song that we were able to locate all spelled the plural of wallaby as wallaby's (though it should properly be spelled wallabies). We have retained the spelling as we found it, but you will want to bring the error to the attention of the students.


Sing "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport," a song from Australia.

Locate Australia on the world map.

Identify the Australian animals named in the text.

Identify note values of "Jamaica Farewell" and "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport" by way of

reviewing musical notation and signs.

Sing the two songs together to create 2-part harmony.


Classroom-size world map

Illustrations of Australian animals from books or encyclopedias (optional)

Text of "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport" (attached) for student copies

Recording of "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport," see Suggested Recording

Text and music for "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport" (attached) for student copies

Text and music for "Jamaica Farewell" (from Lesson 17)

Suggested Book

Sharma, Elizabeth. The Voice. New York: Thomson Learning, 1993.

The author has done a whole series of books whose format and aims are similar. They deal with brass, keyboards, percussion, strings, and woodwinds. Although the reading is easy for fourth graders, the material is very worthwhile and the approach is truly multicultural. The chorus and one verse of "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport" are included. Sharma's book suggests combining the two songs, and this lesson is an expansion of that idea.

Suggested Recording

Rolf Harris (piano), Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport & Sun Arise. Epic CD 26053.


Ask the students what song they learned in the last lesson and where it came from ("Jamaica Farewell," island of Jamaica in the Caribbean). Tell them the song they will learn to sing today comes from the other side of the world. Have a student find Jamaica on the world map and ask in which general direction they would look for "the other side of the world" from the West Indies. (They need only indicate with a hand the direction that would take them to "the other side of the world." On a globe it would look a little different. Give guidance if needed.)

Tell the students the song they will learn has a text that talks about kangaroos and koala bears. What country is that a good clue for? (Australia) Have someone find Australia on the map. Tell them the song is kind of a cross between a folk song and a pop song, and it was written by an Australian whose name is Rolf Harris. Say to them: See how many animals you can hear named in this Australian song. Write down the names as you hear them. (If you have a recording of the song, play it for them now.) If you don't have a recording, give the students copies of the words to the song, and sing it for them as they read the words to themselves.

Give the students a few minutes to tell you the names of the five Australian animals that are named in the song (wallaby, kangaroo, cockatoo, koala, platypus). Write them on the board, and, if you have illustrations, show them. Otherwise, you might ask the students to write out the list and try to find out enough about each of them (in a dictionary, encyclopedia, or book about animals of the world) to be able to write a brief description to hand in the next day.

Explain to the students that the words to the song are written to catch the way some Australians say things (me for my, for example), and point out the touches of humor in the words (such as the pun on platypus duck). If you haven't been able to play a recording for them, pass out the copies of the music with words, and sing them the first verse and chorus of the song. Then teach them the song, line by line, always emphasizing the rhythm. (You will notice that this song has essentially one phrase of melody that changes only slightly in the second and fourth phrases, and there, only at the cadences.) We have written out the words of the chorus followed by the first verse, but you can choose to do any verse with the chorus. The main thing is to get the melodies of the two songs sounding together to make interesting harmony. For this, they need to know the melody and rhythm of both songs well; the words just make it more fun.

Go over the notation of the song, reviewing with them the time signature, the note values, the double bar and other signs of music notation that they have learned this year. Then pass out the copies of "Jamaica Farewell" and do the same thing. When they have finished the little review, congratulate them and tell them they are going to try singing both songs at the same time to make two-part harmony.

Divide the class into two groups and decide which group will sing which song. Since both songs have the same key signature, time signature, and number of phrases, the songs fit well together as long as the two groups keep the tempo the same. You will need to beat time with your hand and arm to keep the tempo and rhythm going. They should be very pleased to hear the harmonies they produce and the special rhythmic effects the two songs make together.

Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport


Watch me wallaby's feed, mate,

Watch me wallaby's feed.

They're a dangerous breed, mate,

So watch me wallaby's feed.


Tie me kangaroo down, sport,

Tie me kangaroo down.

Tie me kangaroo down, sport,

Tie me kangaroo down.

Keep me cockatoo cool, Curl,

Keep me cockatoo cool.

Don't go acting the fool, Curl,

Just keep me cockatoo cool.


Take me koala back, Jack,

Take me koala back.

Lives out here on the track, Jack,

So take me koala back.


Mind me platypus duck, Bill,

Mind me platypus duck.

Don't let him go running amuck, Bill,

Just mind me platypus duck.



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