Turn the Glasses Over

If you’ve had even a tiny bit of exposure to a Kodaly-based classroom, you’ll probably be familiar with this song. It’s cute.  It’s got a fun circle dance thing. It’s great for teaching 4/4 meter. But what you may not know, is there is an ever cooler game associated with it.  The “Cup Game”. Where you get to literally “turn the glasses over”.  Your kids will adore it. They (and you) will be challenged by it, and they will adore YOU! (I’m sure they do already, though).

Here is a video showing you how to perform the “cup game”. She only shows half the song, but I do it for the entire song. The motions (and words I use) are:

Clap, clap, tap on the cup

clap, pick-it-up, put-it-down (rest)

Pick-it-up, palm, put-it-down, hold

Slap, pass, clap.

Start with the cups bottoms up. You MUST point out at the beginning of the 3rd line that your right hand turns in so the thumb points down when you pick up the cup, and that when you “palm”, the open end of the cup touches the left hand. Then when you put the glass down, it is flipped over, right side up, and finally, “hold” is with the bottom of the cup held by your left hand. Also, my 3rd graders had to be told to pass the cup to the person on their right.  4th graders figured it out on their own (for the most part…)

A few suggestions. This is not a good first passing game. Use Obwasana first, which is a very straight forward stick passing game before introducing this more complex game. Also, I went out and bought those Preserve cups. They bridge the gap between disposables and more expensive plastic. They are technically disposable, but are sturdy enough to be reused over and over again (even through 6 classes of 4th grade boys banging them on the hardwood floor).

One last note. In the 4th line, I say “brandywine”. The video says apple juice. Others have said chocolate milk, drink all you wanna drink, etc. Use whatever you are most comfortable with.


I’ve been to Haarlem, I’ve been to Dover,

I’ve traveled this wide world all over.

Over, over, three times over.

Drink all the brandywine and turn the glasses over.

Sailing east, sailing west,

Sailing over the ocean.

Oh, you’d better watch out when the boat begins to rock,

Or you’ll lose your girl in the ocean.

geographical origin – U.S.

tone set: ls mrd l,s,

meter: 4/4

pedagogical uses: 4/4 meter, concentration and learning complex choreography


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