GuitarsInTheClassroomCOLOR_WebWhat is an Anchor Song, you may be asking?

If you are guessing that it is NOT a song about anchoring a boat, you are correct.

In GITC language, an Anchor Song is one that you know so well that you can sing it by heart.

In fact, you know it so well that you can HEAR and anticipate where a chord needs to change in order to support the familiar melody.

Some Anchor Songs have no chord changes at all. You can sing them with the Open G chord alone. Most can be played with just that Open G chord and a 1 finger C note (index finger, second string, first fret).

We call  these simple songs “Anchor Songs” because YOU are anchored in their melodies and lyrics.

This empowers you to confidently sing, strum, and then write new lyrics to that familiar melody and rhythm and to learn to play and sing the song without looking at your hands. Teachers find this important when they want to lead a song without losing eye contact with their students.

Chances are better that if you write new lyrics to an Anchor Song, you will also choose to compose lyrics that fit snugly into the song’s poetic meter. Here is a good example of that:

A                                       E

Skip, skip, skip to my lou! Skip, skip, skip to my lou !

A                                     E                            A

Skip, skip, skip to my lou! Skip to my Lou my darlin’.

A                                  Esum3-3-6

One plus two is three. Two plus three is five.

A                                  E                    A

Three plus three is six.  We can do ad-dition!

So here is a list of popular Anchor Songs that teachers around the US have generated. Among the titles, please see if you can find a few that are actual anchors for you, personally. Once you choose one, the next step will be to understand what type of learning it stimulates and how to apply that to a specific kind of learning task.  I will address this in a new blog next week by telling you about Song Forms.

Bill Grogan’s Goat


Buffalo Gals


Comin’ Around the Mountain

De Colores

Do Lord (Remember Me)

Down by the Riverside

Fish and Chips and Vinegar

Get On Board

Green Grass Grows All Around

He’s Got the Whole World

Here We Go Looby Lou

Hole in the Bottom of the Sea

Hot Cross Buns

Hush Little Baby

I’m On My Way to Freedom Land

I’ve Been Working on the Railroad


Little Liza Jane

London Bridges

Make New Friends

Mama Don’t Allow

Mary Had a Little Lamb

Miss Lucy Had a Baby

Miss Mary Mack

Old Joe Clark

Old MacDonald Had a Farm

Over the River

Paw Paw Patch

Row, Row, Row Your  Boat

Shortenin’ Bread

Skip to my Lou

Sweet Betsey from Pike

Swing Low Sweet Chariot

Tell Me Why

The Alphabet Song

The Bear Went Over The Mountain

The Itsy Bitsy spider

The More We Get Together

The Other Day I Met a Bear

The Riddle Song

There’s a Hole in the Bucket

This Little Light of Mine

This Old Man

Turkey in the Straw

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

What Do We Do on a Farm?

Wheels on the Bus

When the Saints Go Marching In

You will find many but not all of the anchor songs among those in the Educator’s Songbook on our Teacher Downloads page here at the website.

If you’d like some rationale and step by step directions for songwriting with your students, here is a powerpoint to help sequence the experience. It also explains how songwriting can help your students learn with the Common Core Content Standards and 21st Century Skills such as creativity, critical thinking, collarboration and communication.

I will create a new Anchor Songbook for us soon so everything is in one place, classified by song form type, and given in both Open G and Standard Tuning.

Thanks for bringing your creativity to the forefront by teaching through music to make learning more joyful, artful and effective!

With gratitude,


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