Children need to Sing!
Although music is a compulsory part of the curriculum across the UK a recent survey by the *ISM at the beginning of this academic year, discovered that more than two-thirds (68%) of primary school teachers and more than a third (39%) of secondary school teachers reported a reduction in music provision as a direct result of the pandemic. Almost one in 10 primary and secondary schools are not teaching music as part of the curriculum at all and some lessons “contained no practical music-making”, the report says. Opportunities to sing and the prevalence of singing in primary schools has also diminished since Government funding for the National Singing Programme ‘Sing Up’ was cut in 2011.
It’s often difficult for primary schools to make provision for adequate music lessons even at the best of times and smaller schools consider themselves extremely fortunate if one of their class teachers can also provide some musical accompaniment for children’s singing. Furthermore many schools find that the pressure of statutory testing for maths and English has a negative impact on curriculum music provision. These findings were also supported by Ofsted observations.
Skilful help is at hand however, from Singing Community of Choirs Artistic Director, Richard Jeffries, who has studied music education extensively in Finland, USA and Canada for his Churchill Fellowship in 2019, awarded by the Winston Churchill memorial Trust. He is passionate about enabling children to enjoy the benefits of singing which are known to improve brain development, language and communication skills as well as building their self-confidence and contributing to good mental health. Richard and his team of highly skilled teachers and musicians are producing school music support in the form of lesson videos for Early Years, KS1 and KS2 as well as singing assemblies. These can be used throughout the lockdown and beyond and provide lessons and assemblies with an option to sign up and after two free trials. Schools can also sign up for/request music inset, which might be something schools would consider - especially after lockdown.
Richard says “I’ve always been fascinated by music: how it motivates people, how it energises the brain yet relieves stress, how it’s used to celebrate milestones in our lives, how it brings people together in a host of situations and how it can move us to tears. In recent years, as a choral conductor and music educator, I’ve been increasingly aware of the power of singing and how it can transform young lives.”
You can access the videos at www.scchoirs.org.uk by selecting the ‘schools’ tab - and you can find out more about Richard’s report from his study of music for children at https://www.wcmt.org.uk/fellows/reports/harnessing-power-singing-and-its-impact-learning
Richard is Artistic Director of Singing Community of Choirs - an organisation of 5 choirs from age 4 to adult, which featured in ABCD Choral Leaders’ Festival 2019. He also conducts several other choral groups and delivers school workshops. Find out more about his work by visiting www.richardjeffries.co.uk
*The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) is the UK's professional body for musicians and a nationally recognised subject association for music.
*ABCD is the Association of British Choral Directors, a national organisation that supports and trains choral and singing leaders.