Getting vocal leaders into primary school

I had a tweet today from @EmmaBishton. She is keen to get more experienced singers/choir trainers into school to help with skills and confidence.  She has already tried her local hub but with no success.

There are no easy answers but for what it is worth here is my response.

1. There are lots of really good quality vocal warm ups on the internet. Even if your school don’t have Sing Up membership you can still access their youtube video’s. Musical Futures also have fantastic warm up video’s. No matter how many warm ups you have it is easy to get stale and rely on the same old same olds you always use. Getting a new batch  of good quality warm ups always freshens up a lesson. Finding warm ups that the school can use could be really helpful

2. Can you recruit local singers, choirs to come into school to lead lessons? If you can someone into school for even one session you could then use FaceTime if it is an iPad school or skype for follow up sessions. Although this is not ideal it is much easier for individuals than having to commit to come in on a weekly basis.

3.  Could you offer to lead a staff choir? IMHO the more you can do to get staff feeling more confident about leading singing the better the children’s experiences will be! If you spent time with a small group of teachers willing to have a go it could have more impact than working with a single class of kids.

4. Could a local singer offer to hold a pre school community sing along? I got this idea from Ally Daubney of the ISM. It is absolutely fantastic if you can get parents, kids and school staff to come along for a singing for session before the school day starts. The early start also might be more manageable for the person leading. The sing along could also bring more parents with musical skills into school.

5. Help schools choose appropriate songs. Sometimes teachers who aren’t very experienced with singing choose songs that aren’t suitable for children’s voices and as a result their confidence is knocked when it doesn’t sound so great. Helping schools find suitable songs for assemblies, harvest festival, Christmas etc if they are struggling is important.

6. Keep going with the hub! Ask them if they have a singing strategy. Give them specific requests – for example can they offer to lead a staff meeting? Can they provide training for singing assemblies? can they recommend suitable repertoire for each key stage?

7. Can you approach a local high school who has a strong singing culture and a choir? The older students might be able to pop in after school to lead singing sessions and perform. The younger kids will be awestruck!

I don’t really know your circumstances but I hope some of this may be of use. Good on you @EmmaBishton for not just accepting the lack of good quality singing provision and being motivated into trying to improve it!

One thought on “Getting vocal leaders into primary school

  1. There's some really useful things here, thank you very much! But I need to clarify – in my own local school the singing is strong, and we have (and have had) great support from the excellent Suffolk music hub. But I'm really keen to understand how to replicate our local success in schools which haven't got that support, or have not yet found the value of promoting singing at school. As a singer I'm really aware that there is a big skills gap (or more accurately, often a big confidence gap) and hope that schools not singing will pick up some of these points.

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