Hickory Dickory Dock

Hickory Dickory Dock – An Exploration in Sound

The Hickory Dickory Dock Sound Story


Barred instrument(s)

Finger Cymbal or other metal unpitched percussion

Tick-tock block

A way to proceed:

  • Present the rhyme to the students using purposeful vocal inflections and extended pauses at the end of each line (you can use the slides at any point within the process)
  • Patschen the beat that you wish to use for your bordun
  • Speak the rhyme while students patschen the bordun (depending on the ability level of the students, stressing over the steadiness of the bordun maybe effort best spent on other things)
  • Discuss how the rhyme will be in 5 sections
    • Hickory Dickory Dock – Broken bordun
    • The mouse ran up the clock – ascending mallet playing
    • The clock struck one – Finger cymbal
    • The mouse ran down – descending mallet playing
    • Hickory Dickory Dock – Broken bordun
  • Practice the entire thing without instruments
  • Add instruments
  • Use the Tick-tock block to “maintain” your tempo
  • Add a coda – unison play after the last word

Click here to download a copy of Patrick’s slides

Patrick Ware

Patrick Ware is an internationally known Orff - Schulwerk clinician and choral conductor. With a service to education spanning more than 20 years, he holds a B.A. in Music from Westfield State University, an MS.Ed from Radford University and a DMA from the Shenandoah Conservatory of Shenandoah University. Dr. Ware is a National Board Certified Teacher in Music/Elementary and Middle Childhood. He is an AOSA Teacher Educator for all levels of movement and recorder as well as Levels I and II Basic Pedagogy. Patrick is published through Beatin’ Path Publications including works for treble choir with Orff Ensemble. Patrick teaches k-5 General Music and Chorus in Prince William County Virginia. His special focuses include Jazz and the use of children’s literature.

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  1. Hans T Muer on December 3, 2021 at 8:33 am

    This looks wonderful. I know this poem as a child. When there are mallet parts like bordun etc., is there a specific set of notes, melody to this poem? I only know this as a poem. Forgive my naivety. Thanks so much for any feedback.

  2. Patrick Ware on December 5, 2021 at 3:07 pm

    There was/is no specific melody. I set this instruments in a way that gives the greatest opportunity for success. In my schedule last year I had three self-contained special ed classes in a row. I was able to set up 2 instruments with just C (bar 1) and G (bar 5) and the other instruments were set in C pentatonic. I was able to leave them set that way for most of the day.

    Hope this helps,

  3. Freamon McNair on January 24, 2022 at 9:12 am

    Do you perform your Patschen along with the rhyme or after each verse ?

  4. Kate Fellin on February 14, 2023 at 2:56 pm

    Patrick!!! Hello, friend 🙂 Do you have a video of yourself teaching this? I always find videos to be the most informative thing. If you ever want to lead an in-service for music teachers and put it on youtube, it would be epic…. And I would want to be there…. 🙂

    Kate Fellin

    • Patrick Ware on February 20, 2023 at 10:00 am


      So good to hear from you. I will have to make a video of the next time we do this.

  5. Patrick Ware on February 20, 2023 at 9:59 am

    I perform a steady beat alternating patschen along with the “Hickory Dickory Dock” part of the rhyme. During the other parts of the rhyme we perform a patschen that matches what we are doing on the instruments.


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