The Cuckoo and The Donkey (Der Kuckuck und der Esel)

The Cuckoo and The Donkey (Der Kuckuck und der Esel)

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Children’s song, Germany.

“Der Kuckuck und der Esel (The Cuckoo and The Donkey)”, according to Maria Augusta von Trapp, is a teasing song, where “the cuckoo and the donkey must have been friends, otherwise the donkey would have chased the cuckoo away”! (My Favorite Songs: Maria Von Trapp’s Childhood Folk Songs).

The text is written by Hoffmann von Fallersleben (1798-1874) in 1835. The tune is based on a melody composed by Carl Friedrich Zelter (1758–1832).


“Der Kuckuck und der Esel” Free karaoke mp3 download

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To download your free mp3 of “Der Kuckuck und der Esel (The Cuckoo and The Donkey)” , right click on the following link, then choose “Save link as…”

“Der Kuckuck und der Esel (The Cuckoo and The Donkey)” (instrumental, 1:24 – 4/4 – 185 bpm)


“Der Kuckuck und der Esel”  text

Der Kuckuck und der Esel,
Die hatten großen Streit,
Wer wohl am besten sänge,
Wer wohl am besten sänge,
Zur schönen Maienzeit,
Zur schönen Maienzeit

Der Kuckuck sprach: “Das kann ich!”
Und hub gleich an zu schrei’n.
Ich aber kann es besser!
Ich aber kann es besser!
Fiel gleich der Esel ein,
Fiel gleich der Esel ein.

Das klang so schön und lieblich,
So schön von fern und nah;
Sie sangen alle beide
Sie sangen alle beide
Kuckuck, Kuckuck, i-a, i-a!
Kuckuck, Kuckuck, i-a, i-a!

“The Cuckoo and The Donkey” lyrics

The cuckoo and the donkey,
they quarreled one fine day
As to who could sing better,
as to who could sing better
In the lovely month of May,
in the lovely month of May

The cuckoo said, “Hear me sing,”
and so began to call
I can do it better,
but I can do it better,
Said the donkey with “Ee-aw,”
said the donkey with “Ee-aw.”

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These sound so sweet and lovely,
one heard them far and wide
They sang so well together,
they sang so well together
“Cuck-oo, Cuck-oo,Ee-aw,  Ee-aw.”
“Cuck-oo, Cuck-oo,Ee-aw.”


“Der Kuckuck und der Esel ”  Music Score / sheet music with chords in German

To save this free music sheet of “Der Kuckuck und der Esel” to your computer, right click and choose “Save Image As…”.

Der Kuckuck und der Esel Singing-Bell

“The Cuckoo and The Donkey” Music Score with chords in English

To save this free music sheet of “The Cuckoo and The Donkey” to your computer, right click and choose “Save Image As…”.

The Cuckoo and the Donkey Singing-Bell


“Der Kuckuck und der Esel” | Free Printable PDF download

pdf-icon“Der Kuckuck und der Esel ”                     pdf-icon“The Cuckoo and The Donkey”

To download a ready-to-print PDF of “Der Kuckuck und der Esel (The Cuckoo and The Donkey)” for music activities with a music sheet, lyrics and a drawing for kids to paint, right click on the following link, then choose “Save link as…”.

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“Der Kuckuck und der Esel” free PDF download – Singing Bell

“The Cuckoo and The Donkey” free PDF download – Singing Bell


“Der Kuckuck und der Esel (The Cuckoo and The Donkey)” Karaoke Video


“Der Kuckuck und der Esel (The Cuckoo and The Donkey)” Teaching idea & activities

Use a glockenspiel or the music instrument you teach (e.g. piano or guitar) to accompany the song with chords (C and G major).

Agree with the children to change the chord every time you make a signal (you could use Kodaly hand gestures).

As the tune is harmonized with just two chords, this is one of the songs that are suitable to practice them.

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Additionally, you can transpose the song and learn the two basic chords (tonic and dominant) in a different key signature.

And, of course, this is a funny song you can sing and dance dedicated at the month of May!


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