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Anexos / Arquivos

The cantiga de roda as a pedagogical instrument in early childhood education

RC: 102633
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REBELLO, Everton [1], ROSA, Helenice Scapol Villar [2]

REBELLO, Everton. ROSA, Helenice Scapol Villar. The cantiga de roda as a pedagogical instrument in early childhood education. Revista Científica Multidisciplinar Núcleo do Conhecimento. Year. 06, Ed. 11, Vol. 07, pp. 05-24. November 2021. ISSN: 2448-0959, Access link:


The study of music in classrooms brings benefits to the global development of children of all ages, among them, we can mention: the improvement of motor coordination, concentration and discipline, the improvement in teamwork, the increase in hearing capacity and the stimulation of mathematical reasoning. The teaching of music in education is defended, even in official documents, such as the National Curriculum Reference for Early Childhood Education (RCNEI), which understands music as language and area of knowledge, having its own contents and methodologies. There are several ways to work with music in basic education. This article will deal especially with the genre of cantiga de roda. This type of song is an auxiliary pedagogical instrument in the field of early childhood education by joining sounds, movements, play and collective interaction. In view of this, we have as a guide question: Is the cantiga de roda an interesting and efficient instrument in the work with musicalization in early childhood education? To answer this, a bibliographical research was carried out in books, scientific articles, academic theses and official documents, which deal with the importance of music and the cantiga de roda in early childhood education. In addition, an analysis of the musical elements – lyrics, melody, harmony and rhythm – of some cantigas de roda was performed. We conclude that working with cantigas is efficient in early childhood education because it is an invitation to movement and play, activities essential to the integral development of the child.On the other hand, the analysis of musical elements made it possible to observe that cantigas de roda have short and repetitive lyrics, melodies and simple rhythms that are easily understood and appropriated by children. Therefore, the cantigas de roda is an interesting pedagogical tool, helping in the development of children in a playful, pleasant and fun way.

Keywords: Children’s Musicalization, Early Childhood Education, cantiga de roda.


This research aims to investigate whether the genre of cantiga de roda is an interesting pedagogical tool to work musicalization in early childhood education, through a bibliographic research and musical analysis of some songs.

The National Curriculum Framework for Early Childhood Education ( RCNEI ( BRAZIL, 1998), emphasizes the work with music in early childhood education, bringing orientations, objectives and contents to be worked on by educators. The conception adopted by the document comprises music as language and area of knowledge, having its own contents and methodologies.

In this sense, the genre of cantiga de roda is interesting, because with lyrics, melodies, rhythms, simple gestures, repetitive and easy to understand, they are easily assimilated and appropriated by young children. The cantigas are rich in cultural references of certain peoples, as the researcher Benita Michahelles points out “… in the simplicity of their melodies, rhythms and words, they hold centuries of wisdom and the condensed richness of the popular imagination.” (MICHAHELLES, 2011, p.4).

From the pedagogical point of view, these children’s games are considered complete, as researcher Melita Bona explains:

Brincando de roda, a criança exercita o raciocínio e a memória, estimula o gosto pelo canto, desenvolve naturalmente os músculos aos ritmos das danças ingênuas. As artes da Poesia, da Música e da Dança uniram-se nos brinquedos de rodas infantis, realizando a síntese magnífica de elementos imprescindíveis à educação escolar. (BONA, 2006, p. 42).

However, this practice widely used in the past has been losing space over the years and today, we rarely observe children playing roda. Moreover, the cantigas have been worked in a decontextualized way, with the repetition of the same songs and gestures in a mechanical way, underusing the pedagogical potential of musicalization.

Therefore, what is proposed in this research is to evaluate whether the cantiga de roda is a modality of song pedagogically interesting for early childhood education, thinking about the objectives, justifications and contextualization.


The child comes into contact with the sounds that have been around him since before his birth. The first stimuli received by the little ones are the maternal voice, talking and singing, the voice of the people around them, the sounds of the environment in which they live, nature, such as the wind and animals, the music of television, radio, and the sounds generated by the social group in which they are inserted.

Children permeate their activities with sounds and songs, singing while playing, emitting sounds to illustrate their activities, imitating animals, carts and airplanes, as a soundtrack for play. Therefore, this beginning of the process of musicalization in babies and children takes place in a natural way.

Music stimulates development in several aspects, including: auditory improvement, through contact with different sound stimuli, different rhythms and musical genres; the organization of thoughts, as children compare musical actions with the feelings caused by them; improving motor skills as they move, dance and sing to accompany the sounds and music; the development of socialization and teamwork, in music circles, musical games, use of small percussion instruments and cantigas de roda.

The teaching of music in schools is advocated by studies and official documents, including the RCNEI:

A integração entre os aspectos sensíveis, afetivos, estéticos e cognitivos, assim como a promoção de interação e comunicação social, conferem caráter significativo à linguagem musical. É uma das formas importantes de expressão humana, o que por si só justifica sua presença no contexto da educação, de um modo geral, e na educação infantil, particularmente. (RCNEI 1998, p. 45).

It is very important that the child has contact with music from a young age, so that it creates an auditory vocabulary of diverse sounds and musical styles, building an important cultural capital for the formation of a more complete individual. However, this work should be planned, so that the child has the benefits inherent to the study of music in an organized, progressive and natural way, through pleasurable and stimulating activities.

Researcher Karen Ildete Stahl Soler highlights in her research:

O código musical é apreendido pela vivência, pela familiarização, pelo contato cotidiano. Assim, ser sensível à música não é somente uma questão de gosto ou empatia, e sim ter uma sensibilidade adquirida (muitas vezes de modo pré-consciente), em que as possibilidades de cada indivíduo são trabalhadas e preparadas de modo que ele compartilhe da experiência musical, consciente ou não consciente disso. Para entender música, não basta escutar, é preciso dispor de instrumentos de percepção que permitam ao indivíduo decodificar a obra, entendê-la e aprendê-la. Quando esses instrumentos específicos não existem, o indivíduo se orienta por referenciais vindos do cotidiano que não permitem que a música, em geral, seja interpretada de acordo com sua especificidade. (SOLER, 2008, p. 17).

It is also important to highlight that for each age or group of children, there is a different methodology, objects and activities, appropriate to their characteristics and needs and that can contribute to their development in a continuous and progressive way.

For early childhood education, music is closely linked to gesture and body movement. The body translates hearing into movements. In this sense, activities that unite music and movement, such as the cantiga de roda, are important for this stage of education.


There are several types of songs and musical toys, which are part of the children’s universe. The documents of the National Curriculum Framework for Early Childhood Education (RCNEI) state the following:

Os jogos e brinquedos musicais da cultura infantil incluem os acalantos (cantigas de ninar); as parlendas (os brincos, as mnemônicas e as parlendas propriamente ditas); as rondas (canções de roda); as adivinhas; os contos; os romances etc. (RCNEI, 1998, p. 71).

Acalantos, also known as lullabies, are soft songs that soothe, bring warmth and make children fall asleep. Examples of acalantos are: “Nana, nenê”; “Boi da Cara Preta”; “Dorme – Dorme”; “Embala José”; among others.

Earrings are rhythmic musical games, usually with melodies of few notes (sometimes only two, like “Serra”), which are repeated all the time. The earrings are accompanied by body movements. Examples of earrings are: “Serra, Serra, Serrador”; “Bambalalão” and “Palminhas de Guiné”.

Parlendas are recitative rhythmic games, do not present a melody, and the words are recited in the same note. Examples of parlendas are: “Hoje é Domingo”; “Barra Manteiga”; “Lá em cima do Piano”; “Adoletá”; among others.

Cantigas de roda or wheel songs are musical games, where participants usually form a wheel of hands and sing songs known to everyone, performing circular movements with or without choreography. These songs usually have simple and repetitive melodies, rhythms and lyrics, and can be easily assimilated and reproduced by the group members, whether children or adults. In this modality, children use movement and play, natural and spontaneous gestures within the learning process of the child universe.


The cantiga de roda, like Brazilian music, is a construction of mixtures between influences of various peoples, from the people originating in Brazil (indigenous), through the colonizers of various nationalities, to the current influences. This mixture is highlighted by the researcher Veríssimo de Melo:

Influências de várias culturas, principalmente lusitana, africana, ameríndia espanhola e francesa plasmaram de tal sorte a contextura dessa cantiga infantil, que hoje não é fácil precisar, cientificamente, onde começa a influência lusitana ou termina a africana ou indígena. (MELO, 1981, p. 190).

This genre of song is a popular manifestation, mostly of anonymous authorship, passed orally from generation to generation. In this oral transmission, the cantigas are transformed, adapting to the characteristics of the children who play, such as region, origin, social issues, skills of the children involved, among others. Nevertheless, these songs maintain a connection with the traditional, as the researcher Rose Marie Garcia points out: “The cultural dynamics acts on children’s games, making them evolve and adapt to each epoch, maintaining, however, the traditional links”. (GARCIA 1989, p. 13).

The cantigas de roda are practiced in all regions of Brazil, incorporating elements specific to each location.

These cantigas, very executed in other times, have been losing space in today’s society, so we hardly see children playing with them. There are many factors that have contributed to the decrease in interest in them, among them, we can mention the increasing use of technologies. Televisions, computers, tablets and mobile phones are objects of daily use of adults and children, changing behaviors, values and attitudes, contributing to the removal of people from traditional activities, as pointed out by researcher Monique Traverzim:

Na atualidade – século XXI –, está-se em plena era digital, na qual as distâncias e o tempo foram encurtados pela Internet, em que se tem acesso rápido à informação, o que permite que pessoas de diferentes continentes possam se conectar em tempo real. Diante desta situação, pode-se atribuir o estilo de vida da sociedade atual como um dos possíveis fatores que suscitaram as pessoas a se distanciarem das manifestações populares tradicionais e as crianças, das Brincadeiras da Cultura Infantil. (TRAVERZIM 2015, P. 73).


Through cantigas de roda, one can work on motor coordination, stimulate memory, exercise oral communication, creativity, vocabulary, socialization, teamwork, respect for other people and the environment, among other contributions. Motor coordination and movement are worked by the movements performed in these games. Generally, all children participate in singing, working on orality and memory. The child can expand his vocabulary by knowing new words present in the songs and training creativity in the movement.

Singing collectively, the children feel belonging to a group and all participate, from the shyest to the most outgoing. Thus, they develop teamwork, collectivity, self-expression, self-esteem, among other physical, psychological and emotional abilities.

In the cantigas, participants exercise life skills in society, as the researchers Marieta Lúcia Machado Nicolau and Marina Célia Morais Dias highlight:

Dando as mãos, as crianças formam um todo. Cantam, dançam ou tocam juntas; criam e seguem regras, exercitam textos e movimentos de forma coletiva, desenvolvendo a socialização e praticando democracia com valores de respeito mútuo, cooperação e unidade de grupo. (NICOLAU E DIAS, 2003, p.78).

In this sense, the circle formed by children is the representation of life in society, in which the wheel can be the family, the community of which the child is part, the school, the city, the country, and in the future work and other situations of life in society.

In addition, when we sing such songs, we come into contact with customs, traditions, flora, fauna, objects, beliefs, among other specific characteristics of certain places.

Roda and musical games in general are also important, because they give the opportunity for children to have contact with elements of Brazilian music, in different rhythms, different sounds and vocabulary of elements that are at the base of Brazilian music. This contributes to the expansion of the child’s repertoire, helping in the formation of a more musically conscious person, capable of analyzing and acting more critically in their musical choices.


Researching cantigas de roda, we find several definitions. Among them, the researcher Maria Aldenôra das Neves Silva Martins states that:

Cantigas de roda são poesias e poemas cantados em que a linguagem verbal (o texto), a música (o som), a coreografia (o movimento) e o jogo cênico (a representação) se fundem numa única atividade lúdica, ou seja, são canções populares, que estão diretamente ligadas a brincadeira de roda e que consiste em formar um grupo com várias crianças, dar as mãos e cantar uma música com características próprias, com melodia e ritmo equivalentes à cultura local, com letras de fácil compreensão, temas referentes à realidade da criança ou ao seu universo imaginário e geralmente com coreografias. (MARTINS, 2003, p.35).

As the cantiga de roda adapts to each place where it is practiced, its repertoire is very large and diverse in musical aspects, themes and vocabulary. Because they are collective constructions that are shaped by the characteristics of the executing group, they are a good work material in a school group of early childhood education. This is because the groups are very heterogeneous, with children of very diverse characteristics, with interests, needs, social, cultural and origin differences.

This diversity of repertoire allows the choice of different songs, to meet the peculiarities of each group of children.

Generally, the cantigas are performed together with movements, have simple and repetitive letters, talking about everyday elements, such as animals, plants, regional festivals, the life of the child and the adult. In the musical aspects, we can highlight repetitive melodies, with vocal extension of a maximum of one octave, with rhythmic and melodic patterns, repetitive rhythm (which is repeated during practically the entire song), and simple harmonic suggestion.

Collaborating with this vision, researcher Elaine Gebrim de Farias concludes that: “Cantigas have easy lyrics to memorize , consisting of rhymes and repetitions that hold children’s attention, so that it stimulates the child’s imagination and memory.” (FARIAS, 2013, p. 26).


Cantigas de roda have characteristics of lyrics, melody, rhythm and harmony that make them interesting as learning material for early childhood education and initial grades of elementary school.

Next, a short analysis of the musical aspects of some cantigas de roda will be made. This is necessary to explain some musical elements.

The melody is the sung part, which is characterized as a succession of notes that form a set with musical sense. If we were to compare with the study of a language, the notes would be the words and melodies would be the phrases and prayers.

When the notes are played at the same time, we have the formation of chords, which are used to make the accompaniment of the melody. An example of this junction is when a person plays the guitar and sings. In this case, the singing makes the melody and the guitar accompanies with chords.

The set of chords within a song is what we call the harmony of music. The Brazilian composer and pianist Oswaldo Lacerda defines harmony as follows: “Harmony is the science that studies chords and the way to concatenate them.” (LACERDA, 1961, p. 79).

Rhythm is the combination of short, medium, long and silent sounds.The composer Bohumil Med defines the rhythm as follows: “Rhythm is the result of the systematic organization of the duration of sound in its multiple possibilities. Hence the exact measure of the silence of the pauses.” (MED, 1986, p. 11).

Next we will make an analysis of the lyrics, body movement, rhythm, melody and harmony of the cantigas.


With regard to letters, they are usually short, easy to memorize, with repetitions, rhymes and puns. Below are some examples of letters from the cantigas:

A Rosa Amarela (anonymous author)

Olha a Rosa amarela, Rosa. Tão Formosa, tão bela, Rosa (repeats).
Iá-iá meu lenço, ô Iá-iá. Para me enxugar, ô Iá-iá.

Esta despedida, ô Iá-iá. Já me fez chorar, ô Iá-iá (repeats).

Samba Lelê (anonymous author)

Samba Lelê tá doente. Tá com a cabeça quebrada.

Samba Lelê precisava. É de umas boas palmadas.

Samba, samba, Samba ô Lelê. Samba, samba, samba ô Lalá.
Samba, samba, Samba ô Lelê. Pisa na barra da saia ô Lalá.

Pai Francisco (anonymous author)

Pai Francisco entrou na roda. Tocando o seu violão.
Bi-rim-bão bão, Bi-rim-bão bão.
Vem de lá Seu Delegado. E Pai Franciso foi pra prisão.

Como ele vem todo requebrado. Parece um boneco desengonçado.


Cantigas de roda are usually played with body movements. In many of these songs, these movements are encouraged by the cantiga’s own lyrics, such as: “palma, palma, palma, pé, pé, pé, roda, roda, roda caranguejo peixe é” (“Caranguejo”); “samba, samba, samba ô Lelê, samba, samba, samba, ô Lalá, samba, samba, samba o Lelê, pisa na barra da saia” (“Samba Lelê”); “Olhai pro céu, olhai pro chão… Para todos se ajoelhar… Para todos se levantar… Para todos se sentar…” (“Carneirinho, Carneirão”).


In the melodic question, most of the cantigas are built at intervals of Ascending and Descending second and third. The intervals of second and thirdare more natural to the corner, thus not presenting great technical difficulties. Intervals are the distances between the notes, within the musical scale. If we take a scale of Do major, for example we have: Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Si, Do. The interval distance from Do to Re is from second, from Do to Mi is from third, from Do to Fa is from fourth, from Do to Sol is from fifth, from Do to La is from sixth, from Do to Si is from seventh and from Do to other Do is octave. Another characteristic present in most cantigas is that the scope of the melody, that is, the distance between the most severe and the most acute note does not exceed the octave interval. Because the octave scope can be sung by most people and children, cantigas can be performed by almost all children’s groups. Below are some excerpts from sheet music to analyze the intervals cited:

Sheet music 1: Garibaldi foi à missa (anonymous authorship)

Source: Prepared by the author (2021).

When analyzing the melody, represented in score 1, we noticed that it is composed of repeated notes and predominantly intervals of ascending and descending second and third.

Another issue analyzed is the tessitura of the music (distance between the most acute and more severe note). The most serious note is the Si of the second lower supplementary space and the most acute is the Si of the third line of the pentagram. This sets up an octave melodic tessitura, which can be sung by almost all people.

Sheet music 2: O pobre e o rico (anonymous authorship)

Source: Prepared by the author (2021).

In this cantiga, written in sheet music 2, we also have the predominance of repeated notes and intervals of ascending and descending seconds and thirds. The lowest note is the Do of the lower supplementary first line and the highest is the note La of the second space of the pentagram. This represents a sixth count.


With regard to the rhythmic part, many cantigas present the simple binary compass, that is, two-stroke compass.

In a cantiga there is usually no great variation of rhythmic figures. The rhythmic figures represent in the score the duration of the notes, and may be long, medium or short. In addition, for each musical figure, there is a corresponding pause with the same duration as the figure. The pauses represent the silence in the score. Below is a statement of musical figures:

Table 1: Musical figures and their pauses

Source: Prepared by the author (2021).

Another characteristic is the presence of rhythmic patterns that are repeated during a section of the song, or throughout the music, depending on the extent of this cantiga. Below are examples of excerpts from sheet music to analyze:

Score 3: Rosa amarela (anonymous authorship)

Source: Prepared by the author (2021).

The above song (sheet music 3), like most cantigas, is in simple binary compass, which can be observed with the two numbers at the beginning of the sheet music, 2/4.

It also presents rhythmic patterns, which are repeated within the parts. In the first part, represented in sheet music 4, we have a rhythmic pattern in compasss 1 and 2, which is repeated in compasss 3 and 4:

Sheet music 4: Excerpt from the score of the song Rosa amarela

Source: Prepared by the author (2021).

In compasss 7 and 8, there is a rhythmic pattern that is repeated in compasss 9, 10 and 11.12 (sheet music 5).

Sheet music 5: Excerpt from the score of the song Rosa amarela

Source: Prepared by the author (2021)

Sheet music 6: Carneirinho carneirão (anonymous authorship)

Source: Prepared by the author (2021).

The above cantiga (sheet music 6) is also composed in simple binary (2/4). Observing score 7, we can visualize a rhythmic pattern in the compasss from 1 to 4, which is repeated in the compasss 5 to 8, from 9 to 12 and in the compasss from 13 to 17, modified at the end, for the completion of the melody.

Sheet music 7: Excerpt from the sheet music of the song Carneirinho carneirão

Source: Prepared by the author (2021).


Cantigas de roda are usually performed only in singing, without the harmonic accompaniment of instruments.So there is usually no harmonic aspect in the cantiga de roda. However, a melody usually suggests a harmony, by the evolution of its notes. Harmony can be evaluated by means of Roman numerals, which indicate the position of the chord within a tonality. If we take the Do major scale as an example, we can build chords from each of the scale notes and name each chord with a Roman numeral. Then in Do major, whose melodic notes are, Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La and Si, we can build the chords of Do major – first degree (I), Re minor – second degree (II), Mi minor – third degree (III), Fa major – fourth degree (IV), Sol major – fifth degree (V), La minor – sixth degree (VI) and Si medium diminutive – seventh grade (VII).

The harmonies of cantigas de roda usually rest on grades I, II, IV, and V, from the harmonic field. These harmonic degrees are present in a multitude of songs from the repertoire of Western music, being well assimilated and understood by almost all people.

Below are harmonic follow-up suggestions to illustrate the harmonic question in cantigas de roda. All are in the tone of Do major, although they can be found in various shades. Chords are represented by ciphers and there is an indication of the degrees in parentheses.

Capelinha de Melão (anonymous author)

C (I)                                           Dm (II)

Capelinha de melão é de São João

G (V)                    C (I)

É de cravo e de rosa, e de manjericão

Dm (II)

São João está dormindo não me ouve não

G (V)              C (I)

Acordai, acordai, acordai, João.

Peixe Vivo (anonymous author)

F (IV)              C (I)         G (V)             C (I)

Como pode um peixe vivo viver fora da água fria – 2x

F (IV)       C (I)           F (IV)      C (I)

Como poderei viver. Como poderei viver

F (IV)         C (I)           G (V)           C (I)

Sem a tua, sem a tua, sem a tua companhia – 2x

F (IV)               C (I)            G (V)            C (I)

Os pastores dessa aldeia fazem prece noite e dia – 2x

F (IV)             C (I)                F (IV)           C (I)

Porque eu estou chorando. Porque eu estou chorando

F (IV)         C (I)           G (V)          C (I)

Sem a tua, sem a tua, sem a tua companhia – 2x

With the analysis of the harmony of the songs, we conclude the development of this article. The bibliographic analysis showed that music is important for the child’s development and the cantiga de roda can contribute positively to the work of musicalization. The musical analysis pointed out that the cantiga de roda has simple elements and easy assimilation, however, of great cultural and pedagogical value, ideal for working with children of various ages.


After the literature review that dealt with the importance of music in early childhood education, the use of cantigas as a tool for the study of music and a small analysis of the musical aspects of some songs, we can resume the fundamental issue and conclude that the cantiga de roda is an interesting and efficient instrument in the work with musicalization in early childhood education, being an element that can help in motor, cognitive, social, affective, cultural development and expand vocabulary in a playful, pleasant and fun way.

Through the analysis of musical elements, it was possible to observe that the song modality is conducive to this stage of education, because simple and repetitive elements are easily practiced and appropriated by children of different ages. In addition, the short, repetitive and everyday words invite the child to movement and collective interaction, making the activity pleasant and participatory, where everyone is equal.

Therefore, we conclude that the cantiga de roda is an interesting and appropriate pedagogical tool for early childhood education.


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NICOLAU, Marieta Lúcia Machado; DIAS, Marina Célia Morais. Oficinas de Sonho e Realidade na Formação do Educador da Infância. Campinas: Papirus, 2003.

SOLER, Karen Ildete Stahl. A Música na Educação Infantil: um estudo das EMEIs e EEIs da cidade de Indaiatuba, SP. Dissertação (Mestrado em Música). São Paulo: Universidade Estadual Paulista, Instituto de Artes, 2008.

TRAVERZIM, Monique. A Brincadeira da Cultura Tradicional da Infância na Formação Musical do Pedagogo. Dissertação (Mestrado em Música). São Paulo: Universidade Estadual Paulista, Instituto de Artes, 2015.

[1] Specialist in Early Childhood Education from the Metodist University of São Paulo and graduated in the Bachelor of Music course from the FIAM-FAAM College of São Paulo. ORCID:

[2] Guidance counselor. Specialist in Early Childhood Education at the Methodist University of São Paulo, Psychologist at the Methodist University of São Paulo, Music Educator at the Federal University of São Carlos, Professor of Piano and Recorder trained in the Suzuki Method by the Suzuki Association of the Americas and Psychomotrician. ORCID:

Submitted: August, 2021.

Approved: November, 2021.

5/5 - (166 votes)
Everton Rebello

One Response

  1. This is one of the best article on music and education field. It is very complete and shows deep understanding of the matter.

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