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The Happy Birthday Song: Fear No More!

Because this song is so commonly sung, people think of it as an easy song — but it’s not that easy.

It hops around in unusual ways and has a wide range (a pretty big distance from the lowest note to the highest note). Thinking it should be easy but still having a hard time with it can be the cause of much singing discouragement, as in the sentiment, “I’m such a lousy singer that I can’t even sing the Happy Birthday Song!”


NOTE: I’ll be referring to the 1-3-5 (the 1st, 3rd and fifth notes of the scale you’re in) — if you don’t know what that is, check out one or both of these lessons:
A Little Theory
Singing the 1-3-5 With the Piano 

For written tips on the melody and rhythm, scroll down below the video…


• Starts on the 5 below the 1; that’s also the lowest note in the song.

• People tend to start this song too high, not anticipating how high that will place the highest note, and that it might be hard to reach. So, if you’re in charge, start nice and low.

• Each line of this song is a little higher on average than the line before it, with the very highest note being on the syllable “Birth” in line 3. That note is the high 5.

Notice how you’re getting to that highest note: you’re jumping to it from the low 5. That’s a whole octave! That’s kind of tricky, but after that it’s just a steady stepping down to the last word of that third line.


• This song is in 3/4 rhythm, meaning that the beats occur in sets of 3 instead of sets of 4.

• Actually, I urge you to only think about this if you’re truly interested; otherwise just go with the flow and feel the rhythm in your body and don’t worry about analyzing it. This is one of those times when thinking too much can mess you up.

For those of you who are curious, however, here is how the rhythm works in the Happy Birthday song…
The first “Happy” is a pickup, so you don’t start counting until the word “Birthday.”

Undoubtedly, you will have the opportunity to sing the Happy Birthday song again, and my biggest piece of advice is to relax and enjoy it.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that how well you can sing this song is an indication of whether or not you have potential as a singer. That just isn’t true, and doing that takes all the fun out of it!

On the one hand it’s an opportunity to try out some of your new concepts and skills, and on the other hand it will go by in a flash and soon you will get to eat cake.