Un Éléphant

Traditional/adapted/arr. Karl Hitzemann

"Un Éléphant" is a delightful traditional French children's song, which dates back to at least the mid-1800s, but its exact origins are unknown. It's basically a counting song that describes one elephant (then two, then three, then four) swinging on, of all things, a spider web! Rather a silly concept, to be sure.

The biggest challenge with this piece will probably be pronouncing the French lyrics. To keep it simple, we only used the first phrase from the original song – "Un éléphant qui se balançait," which means "a swinging elephant." Then, it's "deux éléphants qui se balançaient," then "trois," and finally, "quatre." As usual, you will find a handy pronunciation guide on our web site. The rest of the lyrics are in English, and are a basic translation of the French. If you want to provide an even bigger challenge, you could sing the entire song (or a bigger portion of the song) in French. You'll be able to find all of the French verses with a quick Internet search.

During the middle part of the song, which is original and not part of the traditional tune, the lyrics mention sending out invitations with an RSVP. This is also a French reference which stands for, "répondez s'il vous plaît," literally meaning, "respond, if you please," or more simply, "please respond." Oh, and one last French reference – note that the tempo is marked "avec joie!" That means, "with joy!"

Swinging along! - Because of the style of this song, we feel it's a natural for movement if you're inclined to add some. Happily, our choreographer, Melissa Schott, provides you with some suggestions on a video made specially for this tune. As always, she encourages you to alter and adapt her ideas however they work best for your little steppers. You can find her video and teaching notes on our web site.

This song includes a "Diving Deeper Into The Music" interactive learning assessment PDF.

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.