Click here for FREE music lessons:Two Weeks Free Music Lessons

15-Minute Music Lesson: What is a Folk Song?

Often in music classes, kids learn folk songs. It’s a basic part of elementary music, early childhood music and movement, and the Charlotte Mason homeschooling method. But, what is a folk song?

15-Minute Music Lesson freebie "What is a Folk Song?" with a $300 gift card giveaway! #musiclessonsforkids #folksongs #music #homeschoolmusic

Disclosure: I get commissions for purchases made through affiliate links in this post.

What is a Folk Song?

A folk song is a song that was transmitted orally, usually with an unknown composer, or a song that is influenced by that type of traditional song.

Music “transmitted orally” means that it was never written down. The people who composed the songs weren’t trained in music. Maybe it was a mom who made up a lullaby to get her baby to sleep, or a man who wrote a love song for the lady he loved, or a song in story-form written by parents to tell the history of their society to their children.

Folk songs were carried down through history and the original composers were forgotten. But eventually, the songs were written down and continue to be sung by people today.

Head over to get “A Folk Song a Week”

online course for elementary 

In the early 20th century many composers and musicologists went into towns and countrysides to collect the “music of the people.” This photograph from the great Hungarian composer Bela Bartok recording folk songs from peasants in Slovakia is one of my favorites.

What is a folk song? Bela Bartok using a gramaphone to record folk songs sung by Slovak peasants.
Bela Bartok using a gramophone to record folk songs sung by Slovak peasants.

The folk music of the 1960s in America grew out of a revival of “everyday” music that spoke about “everyday” topics, such as love and peace.

Why Learn Folk Songs?

There are several reasons why we learn folk songs.

  1. Folk songs help us understand a people group and their history. (If it’s our own people group and history, that helps us learn more about ourselves!)
  2. Since many of the songs were written by amateur musicians and composers, they are often easy for children to sing, play, and memorize.
  3. Because the songs are so old and the composers unknown, they are often in the public domain, meaning that copyright royalties don’t need to be paid.

What are the Best Folk Songs to Learn?

I am currently working on an online course called A Folk Song a Week that will provide 36 of the best folk songs to learn in your school or homeschool. Be sure to sign up for my email newsletter so you’ll know when it’s ready!

Today, I’ll share one folk song with you to whet your appetite!

Charlotte Mason online conference 25 Workshops

A Folk Song to Learn this Week

Take a few minutes today to learn a folk song. Here is one of my favorites. . .

“Danny Boy”

Lyrics of “Danny Boy”:

Oh, Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling,
From glen to glen and down the mountain side;
The summer’s gone, and all the leaves are falling;
‘Tis you, ’tis you must go, and I must bide.

But come ye back when summer’s in the meadow,
Or when the valley’s hushed and white with snow;
I’ll be here in sunshine or in shadow;
Oh Danny boy, Oh Danny boy, I love you so.

You’ll come and find the place where I am lying,
And I shall sleep in peace until you come to me.

Video of “Danny Boy”:

Another version of “Danny Boy”:


Download a free 3-page Printable Pack to use with this 15-Minute Music Lesson:


Composer Sheet, Listen and Write (Tempo, Mood, Like it?, and Instruments/Voices), and Listen and Draw

Related Posts:

Similar Posts


  1. This is one of my favorite folk songs too! Excited to see the rest you find for the course. 🙂

  2. Love this song and especially the Celtic Women’s rendition! Thank you for sharing this lesson.

  3. Adding music to school often gets put aside in the ‘now’ so Music in our Homeschool really helps with instant, no mom needed, lessons!

  4. This looks lovely. I am very much a fan of folk music, whether it is old folk or new folk. And the giveaway is just plain awesome. I can definitely think of plenty of ways to spend $300 on Etsy! LOL.

    1. Many of those songs are great, but my course will focus on folk songs of older eras (with unknown composers).

  5. I really love Celtic music but I get tired of Danny boy because everyone seems to sing it! I’m sure there are other lovely options!

  6. Reuben, Reuben I’ve been Thinking is one of my favorites because my 2 yr old Reuben sings it.

  7. Hi Gena,
    Thanks so much for sponsoring this giveaway. I still can’t decide which option to choose if I win! Also, I would like to thank you for another giveaway you had that I did actually win. My daughter tried the Gentle Guitar 3 lessons we win through you, loved it and is still taking lessons! It’s been about a year and she is into Level 2 now. She’s doing very well with their method and teaching. Thanks!

  8. We loved learning ‘Lavender Blue’ as well as ‘Early One Morning’ as a family. Folk songs are an amazing way to connect.

  9. "State Songs of the 50 U.S. States" online course from Music in Our Homeschool is the perfect way to combine geography and music education in your homeschool, classroom, or homeschool co-op. Click through to see a free preview lesson. #musiccourse #elementarymusic #musiceducation #musiclessonsforkids #musicinourhomeschool

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Music Lessons for Holidays and Special Days self-paced online course for elementary students. Learn about some great music associated with holidays throughout the year, plus fun days such as Star Wars Day, Dr. Seuss Day, and Talk Like a Pirate Day!