Singing in primary schools: case studies of good practice in whole class vocal tuition

Lamont, Alexandra; Daubney, Alison and Spruce, Gary (2012). Singing in primary schools: case studies of good practice in whole class vocal tuition. British Journal of Music Education, 29(2) pp. 251–268.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0265051712000083

Abstract

Within the context of British initiatives in music education such as the Wider Opportunities programme in England and the recommendations of the Music Manifesto emphasising the importance of singing in primary schools, the current paper explores examples of good practice in whole-class vocal tuition. The research included seven different primary schools in England and combined observational methods and semi-structured interviews with musicians, teachers and headteachers. Results indicate a variety of successful approaches to promoting singing in primary schools. Essential motivators for developing singing include an enthusiastic staff member, a supportive headteacher and support from other school staff. Additional motivators include access to musical expertise within and beyond the school, and a singing leader with keyboard skills. Challenges to good practice centre on the issue of confidence and skill in singing from both teachers and pupils, individually and in groups, recognising and rewarding quality in singing, and the sustainability of externally funded initiatives as pupils move through their schooling and particularly from primary to secondary school. Good-quality support from specialists and external organisations can facilitate good practice in schools, but it seems to be important to integrate singing into children's wider musical learning and development within the curriculum, in the extended curriculum and beyond school in order to help sustain a lifelong interest in singing.

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