Scarborough Fair is a haunting melody that I’ve loved since I first heard Simon and Garfunkel’s arrangement. If you use recorders or ukuleles in your middle school music classroom, this is a fantastic song with which to practice accidentals and 6/8 time signature.
As with any instrument, I suggest starting and ending with the measures in which you know your students will be most successful. Here’s how I would sequence the lesson:
- Unless you’re working specifically on sight-reading skills, I would begin by having students listen to a recording of this song.
- Dig a little deeper. Have them listen to this recording from Simon and Garfunkel and discuss the deeper meaning of the lyrics (anti-war) and structure (counterpoint). You can read the full set of lyrics for their version HERE.
- Begin working on the last phrase. Once they’ve learned the fingerings, perform the beginning and have them finish it by playing the last phrase.
- Begin working on the third phrase. Once students have learned this, you can play the first half, while they play the second.
- Work on the second phrase as a class, ensuring that students don’t miss the accidental.
- Lastly, break into partners or small groups, and have students learn the first phrase on their own. They can do this by keeping the mouthpiece on their chin and fingering through as they sing. You can go around the room and have them play out loud to check their work. Once finished, those students can then go around and help others.
- Finally, play from the beginning to end as a whole class.
- If you need to mix things up, you can split students in half, with one group singing and the other playing.
I created a simple arrangement for your students that’s both in an appropriate vocal range and also includes only four chords; G, C, F, and dm. If your students already know C, G, and F, then they only have one new chord to learn for this song.