• Em Wilson

Ride a cock horse (Songs from Em's childhood) ~ nursery song


Em Wilson, editor of Music Express, bassoonist, Wider Opportunities practitioner and Early Years Music leader, remembers her grandpa singing to her in early childhood. What delighted the young Em and made her memory so special was that this otherwise quiet and subdued man in the background of family gatherings came so surprisingly to life when he sang for her.

My first song memory is from my grandpa coming to stay. He would sit on the sofa at my home, and bounce me on his knee singing 'Ride a cock horse'.

Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross

To see a fine lady upon a white horse,

With rings on her fingers and bells on her toes

She shall have music wherever she goes.

(public domain)

I can still hear him singing it in my head, when I sing it. I remember where he paused in the music after the line 'with rings on her fingers' so we could wriggle our fingers and then after ‘bells on her toes’ to say, 'ding-a-ling-a-ling’. He paused again after ‘She shall have music…’. before fast knee-bouncing me for the line ‘wherever she goes, she goes, she goes, she goes, she goes, she goes, she’s gone’ (and dropped me through his knees)!

Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross

To see a fine lady upon a white horse,

With rings on her fingers (pause to wriggle fingers) and bells on her toes (pause) ding-a-ling-a-ling,

She shall have music (pause) wherever she goes, she goes, she goes, she goes, she goes, she goes, she goes, she’s GONE! (drop child through knees)

It's a song I've definitely passed on to my two children, but also another of my children’s favourites is from Playsongs:, 'A leopard has lots of spots’. My daughter still loves it now (aged 8) - she loves having the spots and stripes ‘drawn’ on her as we chant the words together.

Spots spots spots spots,

Spots spots spots spots,

A leopard has lots of spots

What a lot of spots he's got,

A tiger has stripes like long thin pipes

But a leopard has lots of spots.

©Cynthia Raza (Playsongs track 5)

The image is from a collection by Randolph Caldecott, 1846-86, in whose honour the Caldecott Medal for outstanding children's book illustration was named.

#Rideacockhorse #EmWilson #MusicExpress #Spotsspotsspots #CaldecottMedal #RandolphCaldecott

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