Row, Row, Row your Boat – Chords, Tabs and Sheet Music

row row row your boat

Row, Row, Row your Boat is a very short song for young children. Thanks to its simplicity and shortness the song is a perfect choice for playing and learning it on a musical instrument. Let’s get to know the origin and history of the song at first and then how to play it actually on the guitar. There are different ways to play it and we will start with a very easy version where you just need one string of your guitar! But we will also show you how to play Row, Row, Row your Boat with easy basic chords and provide you some free PDF downloads like the sheet music for your practicing or lessons!

History and Origin of Row, Row, Row your Boat

The first known publication of the song is from 1852 when the song has been published with similar lyrics but with a different melody. The song with the melody we know nowadays has been first recorded in 1881, mentioning Eliphalet Oram Lyte in but it’s not clear if he was the author or adapter of the song.

There are also alternative versions of the song to make it funny or to parody it. In addition to that, Row, Row, Row your Boat can also be an interactive singing game for kids where the kids sit opposite each other and imitate rowing forward and backward with joined hands.

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easy guitar songs for kids
Make Playing Guitar more Fun!
Easy Song Sheets designed for Kids
easy guitar songs for kids

Tabs for Row, Row, Row your Boat

If you want to play a song on guitar you have basically two ways. Either you pick the strings individually, which is called fingerpicking, or you use chords and strum the string at the same time. We will start with a fingerpicking version because it gonna be a very easy version. We will just try to use one string. Then we will explore a version where we use several string and for sure we also learn a strumming version of the nursery rhyme.

1. Level: Playing only on One Guitar String

guitar playing on 1 string

Since we find all the needed music notes for Row, Row, Row your Boat on one string, we start with this version first. This is a very good exercise for beginners since they have to focus only on picking one string and moving only one finger of the left hand up and down on this string. We also get more familiar with the notes of the string that we use. Push down the string with your index or middle finger of your left hand. Pluck the string with the thumb of your right hand.

How to read Guitar Tabs

Using horizontal lines as strings and numbers on those lines to represent the fret you should play, tablature gives us the guidance we need to start picking away at songs and their melodies. The strings are “upside-down”, meaning that the high sounding E is the highest line on your tablature. A zero (0) means you play the string open without any fingers on any frets. Learn more about reading guitar tabs!

Here are the tabs for Row, Row, Row your Boat on one string:

Row Row Row your Boat - Guitar Tabs One String

Below is a recording of how it should sound. You can play along and if it’s too fast, just slow it down.

You can actually play the same pattern on any other string as well. Try for example the 6th string (low E string) to have a pretty low version of the song.

2. Level: Playing on several Guitar Strings

guitar middle strings playing

Let’s play the song now by using more than one string. This is actually also much more common and efficient. You have probably noticed that playing the song on just one string required nearly the whole guitar neck. We went up to the 12th fret. Playing it with a classical guitar could be already quite challenging. The advantage here is that you don’t have to move your left hand too much along the neck of the guitar but we stay rather close to the guitar head. Of course, you now have to use several fingers and pluck different strings, but this is a very good exercise and you will get used to it!

Here are the tabs for playing the nursery rhyme on several strings:

Row Row Row your Boat - Guitar Tabs

Again, you can listen to the recording to check your playing and see how it should sound.

Chords for Row, Row, Row your Boat

Let’s also discover the strumming version of Row, Row, Row your Boat. You can find different ways to play this song by chords but we want to start with an easy version. So, we are using basic guitar chords and the key of C, which is also easy to sing for most of the people.

The chords that you need for Row, Row, Row your Boat are the chords C and G.

C Chord Guitar
G Chord Guitar

Do you already know how to play these chords and changing between them is not a challenge for you? Then you can play the song! If not, practice first the two chords individually and try to play the sequence C-G with simple down strums.

As a beginner we should always start playing a new song slowly. So, just do a simple down strum on each chord change. This gives us enough time for changing between the chords without worrying too much about any strumming pattern. Also, singing is much easier in the beginning if you just do one down strum on every chord change. Once you master it, you can apply a strumming pattern.

CRow, row, row your boat
gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
Glife is but a dCream.

Music Sheets and Tabs for Row, Row, Row your Boat

If you are not a beginner and you know how to play the guitar and understand music theory, then you probably know how to read sheet music as well! Especially guitar teachers and parents who are advanced guitar players prefer sheet music.

Row Row Row your Boat - Guitar Sheet Music

Printables for Row, Row, Row your Boat

If you prefer to print the chords version, tabs or sheet music in order to practice or for your lessons, then feel free to download our free printables!

Row Row Row your Boat - Guitar Free PDF Download

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