twinkle rhythm words


Jennifer said: Mar 25, 2006
Jennifer Moberg
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Dehbori Kabul, Afghanistan
71 posts

i was just curious, after reading the ‘up like a rocket’ post, what twinkle rhythms everyone learned/teaches?

when i was a suzuki student i learned:
rattle rattle dump truck
candy and popcorn
jack rabbit eats carrots
mississippi mississippi

now that i’m a suzuki teacher i teach:
mississippi stop stop
down wiggle up wiggle (or down titi up titi depending on student)
mississippi mississippi
alien alien

“Music exists for the purpose of growing an admirable heart.”

Nobuaki said: Mar 25, 2006
Nobuaki Tanaka
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Mount Prospect, IL
115 posts

I use these words

var. A—mississippi hot dog or chalie brown and snoopy
students can use their favorite
var. b—peanut and pop corn
var. c—cat kitty cat kitty
var. d—peanut butter jelly sandwich

thank you

said: Mar 25, 2006
 3 posts

var. A—Mississippi Stop Stop
var. B—Happy, I’m happy
var. C—Run pony run pony —and also
Down pony Up pony

var. D—Mississippi alligator
var. E—pineapple pineapple —and maybe also

“tri-po-let” or “tri-o-la”

Crystal said: Mar 25, 2006
1 posts

For my younger students:

Goody goody stop stop
Happy, I’m happy
Run Pony Run Pony
Wish I had a watermelon(though I really like the Mississippi Alligator by rr)

For my older ones:

Running running walk walk
Walk walk (sh) walk
Walk running walk running
running running running running

Each child is precious.

said: Mar 25, 2006
 9 posts

I use the usuals, but I also often custom-fit.

One of my favorite rhythm explorations (and it works great with a class, too) is to ask the child for names of people in his/her life. We say the names and decide which rhythm unit the name matches:
GRANDfather, GRANDmother, ANN Russell, BOB Brady are all “Run Pony” names.
Auntie Beth, Uncle Sam give you the reversed quarter/8th8th pattern.
Cousin Sammy Cousin Annie… you get the idea.

I once knew a kid whose whole family had two-syllable names. For the “Dr Suzuki” rhythm, she decided to line up her family (pets included) in order of voice pitch, each matched to a note of the scale: Daddy was A, Mommy was B, then big brother C#, then her, then younger sister, then the cat, and Stripers the new kitten got F sharp. She could sing Twinkle with the names in the right places—customized solfege. Scary.

It’s always fun to take a whole class and see which names match up—and which ones don’t. Esme McPartland—whew!

Other days, we’ll pick a category like, say, desserts, and find more new words: fudge brownie, fudge brownie.
Or soda: sarsparilla root beer. Or weather, or sports, or cars, or…

Divide into teams. Give each team a category, they rename all the rhythm units. (Harry Potter Hog-warts!) Sing them all at the same time, really loudly.

(Later on I use names again to teach upbow pickups. Say a name and clap ONCE as you say it. Did you clap during the very first sound? No?
Pen-EL-o-pe, E-LIZ-a-beth, Her-MI-o-ne all inspire a second syllable clap, and need an up-bow pickup for the first sound.)

And then there’s the deal where you take ALL of the words for a unit, write them on cards and then mix them up just to see what you get:
Wish I had a Harry Potter watermelon Lamborghini… yee ha!

Corinne said: Mar 26, 2006
 Violin, Piano
44 posts

This is what I teach (piano, btw) —

A-Pepperoni pizza
B-Ice creeeeam cone
C-Zip twinkle zap twinkle (or blueberry blueberry)

Redding Farlow said: Mar 26, 2006
Redding Farlow Soderberg
Suzuki Association Member
Myrtle Beach, SC
20 posts

When I was growing up the names I learned were:

Twinkle A—Peanutbutter Crackers
B—Yo Ka Ta
C—Popsicle Popsicle
D—Watermelon Watermelon

Now I teach:

Twinkle A—Mississippi Stop Stop
B—1 2 sh! 4
C—run pony run pony
D—grandma rides a motorcycle

“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” -Sir Winston Churchill

Debbie said: Mar 26, 2006
Debbie MiViolin
138 posts

Goody Goody Stop stop
Jack Rabbit Eats Carrots
Duck Duck shh Goose
Wish I had a motorcycle
Strawberry Blueberry

said: Mar 27, 2006
 18 posts

As a teacher, I use the following:

Mississippi Hot Dog (or Stop Stop), but I find my kids latch onto Little Little Big Big best
1 2 (3) 4
Run Mommy Run Daddy or Grasshopper Grasshopper
Wish I Had a Motorcycle

I like the idea of using Ice Cream (shhhhh) Cone or Duck Duck (shhhhh) Goose for Var. B—the numbers don’t always work to my satisfaction.

Grandma rides a motorcycle and Mississippi Alligator—too cute!

said: Mar 27, 2006
 2 posts

Var. A I like chocolate ice cream

Var. B Soda (shh!) Pop

Var. C Run Pony Run Pony

Var. D Peanutbutterpeanutbutter

said: Mar 28, 2006
 38 posts

We just discovered a great one for Variation B. We had been using the childs name- “Susy, I’m Susy.” of “Happy, I’m happy.” (If their name didn’t have two syllables. I liked it, but my little ones weren’t catching on as well as I had hoped. Someone in my teacher training class mentioned “Ice Cream (rest) and Popcorn” with the rest being a little lick of the ice cream cone, and every pop in popcorn coming on an up bow. It has worked wonders for everyone we’ve tried it on!

Laurel said: Apr 3, 2006
Laurel MacCullochViolin
Langley, BC
120 posts

Dirty Doggie Scrub Scrub
Ice Cream (Shh) Cone
Run Pony Run Pony
See you later alligator

for the triplets: Blueberries Strawberries

Some of the parents made up words of their own. One little boy loved Buzz Lightyear, so Var. C became Buzz Lightyear Buzz Lightyear. Another girl liked Barbie, so Var. B became Barbie Shh Pop. Some parents continued making up words for the later songs too; one even did the whole of Perpetual Motion with words about My Little Ponies!


said: Apr 3, 2006
 1 posts

I like the “ice cream -lick- and popcorn” version, but how do you use it -how would it start off?

Cynthia Faisst said: Apr 28, 2006
Cynthia Faisst
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Irvine, CA
126 posts

What are you using to get the Articulations that you would like to hear from these variations?

I would like the 8th notes to have some consonant sounds so they echo.


I also need some in Spanish.

Ms. Cynthia
Talent Education Center: Suzuki Violin
Director of Santa Ana Suzuki Strings located at the
Orange County Children’s Therapeutic Arts Center
Volunteer, bring music to under-served communities around the world. Create Sound Investments and Futures.

Lindsay said: Apr 28, 2006
Lindsay LogsdonViolin
55 posts

var. a—Mississippi Hop Frog
var. b—Rubber (sh) Duck
var. c—Bugs Bunny Eats Carrots
var. d—Wish I Had A Motorcycle

Lindsay—Violin teacher, homeschooling mama of four, small-time publisher

Laura said: Apr 28, 2006
Suzuki Association Member
358 posts

Within the English language, it seems you can find just about anything that fits Variations A or D. C is trickier but still possible.

However, it’s almost impossible to find something for B that matches the articulation, etc. properly. They exist, but harder to come up with! It’s a real challenge finding something for B that naturally includes the last short note of the rhythm. I’m still experimenting!

Cynthia Faisst said: Apr 29, 2006
Cynthia Faisst
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Irvine, CA
126 posts


I really like:

“rubber duck”

That works better than “bunny jump” in Allegretto.

Ms. Cynthia
Talent Education Center: Suzuki Violin
Director of Santa Ana Suzuki Strings located at the
Orange County Children’s Therapeutic Arts Center
Volunteer, bring music to under-served communities around the world. Create Sound Investments and Futures.

Cynthia Faisst said: Apr 29, 2006
Cynthia Faisst
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Irvine, CA
126 posts

How about “Cup cake (rest) eat” or “Cup Cake (rest) Bite”

The kids laugh, they think that is funny. And its pretty easy to say.

I need one of those in Spanish

Ms. Cynthia
Talent Education Center: Suzuki Violin
Director of Santa Ana Suzuki Strings located at the
Orange County Children’s Therapeutic Arts Center
Volunteer, bring music to under-served communities around the world. Create Sound Investments and Futures.

Laura said: May 1, 2006
Suzuki Association Member
358 posts

Unfortunately in piano, the long note is a sustained one, not short. So we need a three syllable phrase with a natural attack (i.e. downbeat) on the first short syllable, a deep sustained middle syllable, and a final syllable that is not “forgotten”.

So far the best one I’ve learned seems to be “I love you”, but emphasizing the “I” seems a little awkward, i.e. not how you would naturally speak it.

Others I’ve heard include:

“a big hug” (which actually turns out to be “big hug, a” and it’s easy to forget the last “a”)

candy and ice cream (but again, you need the final “and” to complete the rhythm)

So as you can see, nothing so far seems ideal for the piano version of Variation B! Any other suggestions?

Melissa said: May 1, 2006
 Piano, Flute
151 posts

“I love you” is good. Except the “you” tends to be too long. So I’ve tried “I love me” I like that one (it actually originated form a student!)
There is also ” short-long-short”. That one works pretty well too.

said: May 2, 2006
 38 posts

Have you tried using the student’s name for variation B? Like “Abby, I’m Abby,” or you could also use “Happy, I’m happy” for a student without a two syllable name. The kids love singing their own name.

Jennifer Visick said: May 3, 2006
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
997 posts

*Goody Goody Stop- Stop ((I like the “stop stop” because of the idea of stopping the bow for the staccato. Telling students “it’s not “goody goody blah-blah” often gets a very nice stac. out of them!))

*Practice, More! ((often draws groans from my students, but it works. I like the ice cream (lick) and popcorn idea. Maybe I’ll try it! the Dr. Suzuki rhyme also works.))

*Hop Bunny, Jump, Bunny ((again, “hop” and “Jump” lend themselves to staccato more than “run”—I think)). I also have a transfer student who learned “Hot Chile, Hot Chile!” That works too!))

*Pineapple Strawberry—or “pinapple trip-ol-et”—or, merely, 123123

*Alligator-Ate-The-Butter. ((When I was growing up, I learned “elevator operator”—but no one knows what that is anymore!)

I find that students who make up their own words—just so long as they FIT, rhythmically—have the most fun while learning rhythms :)

said: Jun 14, 2006
 2 posts

Here’s what I grew up with and use with my students:
(I remember using these when I met Dr. Suzuki in 1980)

Charlie Brown and Snoopy
Grasshopper Grasshopper
Football and Baseball and
Motorcycle Motorcycle

Ashley said: Jul 20, 2006
 7 posts

I’ve also heard this for var. B:

Dr. , Suzuki , says do not , be lazy , and practice , and practice , until you , go crazy , hey!

Suzanne Wedeking said: Feb 21, 2013
 1 posts

Spanish rhythms

Chocolate Rico (A)
Hela (sh) do (B)
Granpapi Granmami (C)
Caramelo Caramelo (D)
Plátano plátano (E)

Kim said: Feb 21, 2013
 39 posts

I’m a parent but …

Mississippi Stop Stop (or hop hop)
Popcorn (sh) and Candy (sh)
Run Bunny Run Bunny (or Hop Bunny Hop Bunny)
Strawberry Popsicle (or just Strawberry Strawberry)
Peanut butter peanut butter

Sophia said: Feb 23, 2013
Sophia Kim
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Cello, Viola
Vancouver, BC
16 posts

One e and a, two e and a, three e and a, four e and a…

Joanne Martin has a great book called, the “Magic Carpet” and it has those Twinkle sixteenth notes…

Tuga, tuga, Stop, Stop—One e and a, Two e and a, Stop, Stop ( you can use different words here, without stopping).

Sally O’Reilly, came up with a great book called “Fiddle Rhythms”.
There are many, many variations within the Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star tune.
It’s not the William Starr book, but a separate book that has some short little pieces.

Mind you this is not for the Pre-twinkle learners, but you could gather some useful information that would give you more ideas to assist with the rhythm/word combinations. Hope you find it helpful and fun to learn!

Phankao said: Mar 1, 2013
Phankao WanPiano, Viola, Violin
128 posts

Nobody uses “Chugga Chugga Choo Choo”? I used that for Twinkle A with mine!

Rachel said: Mar 10, 2013
 19 posts

We have studied in English and Spanish speaking countries. Here are some of our favorite rhythm words.

English rhythms
Variation A: Mississippi Stop Stop
Variation B: 1 2 shh 4
Variation C: Down pony Up pony
Variation D: Strawberry Blueberry
Variation E: PeanutButter caterpillar
Wish I had a motorcycle
Stegosaurus brontosaurus

Spanish rhythms
Variación A: Yo como pan blanco
Variación B: hela (sh) do
Variación C: (se me olvidó)
Variación D: Música música
Variación E: chocolate caramelo

Heather Reichgott said: Mar 11, 2013
Heather ReichgottPiano
South Hadley, MA
96 posts

Here are the ones I learned from my teacher (piano):
A. Mississippi Hot Dog
B. Bounce, roll, bounce—emphasizes staccato on the bounces, and fluid arm weight/wrist motion on the roll—usually we sing “bounce, roooooooolllllllllllllll, bounce”
C. Run Mommy, run Daddy

Kiyoko said: Mar 15, 2013
 84 posts

@phankao: Love the Chugga Chugga Choo Choo!

Inkeri said: Mar 23, 2013
Suzuki Association Member
Urb Neptuno - Surco Lima, Peru
1 posts

A: Chocolate ri-co/ caramelo dulce
B: 1 2 sh 3 / Pablo sh juan pablo sh/ pollos sh y vacas sh y perros sh y…
C: gran chico gran chico
D: plátano plátano/ tresillo tresilo/ música música
E: solamente 8 notas/ chocolate chocolate

Var A: Little Red Riding Hood story:

Section A: La caperucita con su canastita juega por el bosque recogiendo flores
para suabuelita queestá enfermita en el bosque vive lejos de su casa

Section B: Pero el lobo malo queestá enfadado a caperucita come enterita
hasta queel valiente cazador los salva y el lobo malo muere ahogado

Section A again (everything goes back to normal)
(You have to make sure parents understand that traditional stories speak about killing bad wolves! )

Dominique said: Apr 2, 2013
3 posts

We do…
Quiet shh please
Jelly donut pancake
dance on the floor right now
see you later alligator
eat ice cream eat cookies

Rose Costello said: Apr 4, 2013
Suzuki Association Member
Green Bay, WI
5 posts

These ‘lyrics’ are all great. Tailoring them to individual students and having them help you make up words that they can relate to is a good exercise that helps them remember them and ‘own’ them, and it teaches them rhythm and composition in a very simplistic way, too!

I would caution teachers on the actual words they use. Junk food and health concerns are important issues in our world today, and we can do a lot to support healthy lifestyles and eating habits by using words lilke strawberry and blueberry and watermelon….vs. the ice cream, donuts and hot dogs! Eating well—or not—just like practicing well or not, is learned behavior.

We are role models far beyond the notes and melodies. Our words can be very suggestive. Please choose words carefully and consciously!

~ Rose

Kiyoko said: Apr 5, 2013
 84 posts

“Mississippi hot dog” could easily be “Mississippi tug boat”

“Jelly donut pancake” could be “jelly toast and pancake”

without much difference in group lessons if a student were saying either.

Laura said: Apr 11, 2013
Laura Mozena
Suzuki Association Member
Palm City, FL
105 posts

Pepperoni Pizza
Ice Cream shh Cone
Run Pony, Run Pony
Watermelon, Watermelon
Apple Pie, Apple Pie (I have trouble finding words for this triplet rhythm that don’t accidentally turn it into the run pony rhythm, I have also tried pineapple, pineapple, strawberry, Strawberry, 123, 123)


Eden Kay said: Feb 24, 2015
 1 posts

When I was young, I learned:

go and get the hot dog = !-!-!-! . .
elevator operator = !-!-!-! !-!-!-!
dunebuggy dunebuggy = . !-! . !-!
practice, more practice = !-! ~ ! !-!
Michigan blueberry = !-!-! !-!-!

  • = connector of eighth notes
    ! = eighth note
    . = quarter note
    ~ = eighth rest
Alex-Anne said: Feb 27, 2015
Alex-Anne Troxel
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Violin
Jackson, MO
5 posts

I use Running Running Walk Walk; Grasshopper, Grasshopper; Ice cream shh cone; Butterfly Butterfly, and Mississippi is a river. :)

Alex-Anne Troxel

Lauren said: Mar 3, 2015
Lauren Lamont
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Edmonds, WA
33 posts

So many great ideas! I use the standards:
Mississippi Stop Stop
Ice Cream shh Cone
Down Pony Up Pony
Beautiful Butterfly
Mississippi Alligator

However, in group classes, I like to vary them, so students don’t become confused if at a workshop or institute where other words are used.

Grandma rides a motorcycle is always fun. Teeny Tiny Ballerina, etc.
I steer a little away from the Strawberry and Blueberry because parents seem to easily use duplets or triplets (Straw-berry /’Down Pony’, or Straw-ber-ry, ‘Beau-ti-ful’) and become confused.

Is also fun to encourage students to make up their own words.

Celeste Okano said: Mar 4, 2015
Suzuki Association Member
Beaverton, OR
1 posts

At a summer institute several years ago we learned, “Mommy needs a latte.” for variation A. We still laugh about it.

Cynthia Faisst said: Mar 8, 2015
Cynthia Faisst
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Irvine, CA
126 posts

I’m still looking for words that express articulation.

The last two eighth notes in Twinkle A have dots on them.

So far, all I can come up with is “Yummy Yummy Cup Cake” which the kids love. But I feel guilty that it is about a sugary treat. But it has a crisp consonant starting and stopping the last two notes. The bakers knew what they were doing when they named this treat.

I would like to find a vegetable with such consonants for each syllable.

Another one I use is “Shiny, shiny, Sparkle” which conveys the idea of echo, but I’m still not happy with the arrangement of the consonants on the last syllable. It’s still not close with a consonant.


Ms. Cynthia
Talent Education Center: Suzuki Violin
Director of Santa Ana Suzuki Strings located at the
Orange County Children’s Therapeutic Arts Center
Volunteer, bring music to under-served communities around the world. Create Sound Investments and Futures.

Christine Faught said: Mar 9, 2015
Christine Faught
Suzuki Association Member
Fort Worth, TX
6 posts

The words I like best, because I feel they reflect the articulations I want to hear, are:

  1. taka taka stop stop
  2. doctor (sh) Suzuki (sh) said never (sh) be lazy (sh) just practice (sh) and practice (sh) till mama (sh) goes crazy, etc.
  3. down wiggle, up wiggle
  4. pineapple pineapple
  5. caterpillar caterpillar

I also play piano accompaniments at times that reflect the difference between quadruplets and triplets in numbers 3 and 4—I don’t bother explaining this to students most of the time but I think it helps to emphasize the rhythmic differences extra clearly here.

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