Treasure Island: 1. Skull and crossbones

Jim Hawkins lives and works at the Admiral Benbow Inn near Bristol. His life is dull and Jim dreams of adventure. Then one day a stranger calls at the inn and his life changes forever. The first song is a sailors' hornpipe with a little bit of pirate rap!

Tutorial: learn the song 'Skull and crossbones'

Tutorial: 'Skull and crossbones'

Key timings in the tutorial video are:

00 00: David Grant introduces the series and seven songs to learn.
00 57: Warming-up by chanting the words 'Yo ho ho and up she rises'.
01 39: Adding the melody to 'Yo ho ho and up she rises' to learn the chorus.
02 48: Learning Verse 1, beginning: 'In the heart of the blue Caribbean...' Listening to the verse phrase by phrase and repeating with the choir.
04 48: Learning Verse 2, beginning: 'The flag of the old skull and crossbones...' Verse 2 is sung to the same melody as Verse 1.
06 15: Learning the rap, beginning: 'Fifteen men on a dead man's chest...' Focusing on 'punching' out the words of the rap.
08 00: Singing Verses 1 and 2 and adding the rap to them. Considering the opening of the song - a hornpipe - and identifying the instruments.
09 47: Learning Verse 3, beginning: 'In the still of the night we drop anchor...' Verse 3 is sung to the same melody and Verses 1 and 2.

The story

Episode 1: Jim Hawkins is tired of his life and dreams of adventure


Jim Hawkins is 12 years old and works at the Admiral Benbow Inn, owned by his mother. One day an old sailor - Billy Bones - comes to stay. He warns Jim to keep an eye out for a pirate with a wooden leg. Two further visitors come to the inn: Black Dog and then the Blind Beggar - who hands Billy the notorious ‘black spot’. Its effect is immediate and Billy falls to the floor, dead.

Later, Jim and his mother search through Billy's possessions and find an old map that he had been hiding from Black Dog and the Blind Beggar. But before Jim and his Ma have time to consider its importance a group of pirates attack the inn and they flee, taking the map with them...

You're a dead man walking...
Black Dog to Billy Bones

See Resources below for a quiz about the story episode.

Song: 'Skull and crossbones'

Song 1: 'Skull and crossbones' (vocal)
Song 1: 'Skull and crossbones' (backing)

Learn the song ‘Skull and crossbones’ - a song for pirates!

Once you have learnt the song singing with vocal version you can polish your performance singing with just the backing track.

Click here for the lyric sheet.

Click here for the music sheet.

Listening music: 'Barnacle Bill'

Extract from the hornpipe 'Barnacle Bill' (Blue Peter theme tune)
  • 'Barnacle Bill' is a hornpipe.
  • A hornpipe is a lively dance - especially associated with sailors.
  • This hornpipe is well-known as the theme tune to the the CBBC TV programme Blue Peter.


Tutorial - transcript
Song: 'Skull and crossbones' - lyrics
Song: 'Skull and crossbones' - music
Story: Episode 1 - transcript
Teacher's Notes
Meet the characters
Vocal warm-up

More from this series

2. Jim's blues
3. Little bit of rum
4. Ben Gunn

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