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Primary Singing Toolkit reviews

The Primary Singing Toolkit is a free digital resource for primary music teachers, created by the ISM Trust and Voices Foundation. It aims to help teachers discover singing strategies to enhance the music curriculum and give them the confidence to share the joy of singing with their students.

Renowned music educators Suzi Digby and Susan Hollingworth share their thoughts on the resource.

Suzi Digby OBE

As someone who has a very special history with both the Voices Foundation and the ISM, nothing could be closer to my heart than this extraordinary collaboration.

The Primary Singing Toolkit is an absolutely vital resource.

It brings the very essence of singing and its peerless value into the classroom. It gives non-specialist primary teachers the resources, skills and confidence to teach music, through singing, that they bring to other key subjects.

By building ‘from the curriculum’, through the medium of singing, this will bring the highest quality music lessons to all children, not just to those deemed as musically talented. And, most importantly, it will give the skills and confidence to our primary teachers for life.

Suzi Digby is a choral conductor, a music educator and a social entrepreneur, who has trail-blazed the revival of singing in UK schools and the community over three decades. She founded Voices Foundation in 1993, as well as several other pioneering arts organisations including Voce Chamber Choir, London Youth Choirs and ORA Singers, and was President of the ISM from 2012-13.

Susan Hollingworth BEM DUniv

What a pleasure it has been to watch and listen to the 14 videos which make up a new classroom singing resource launched recently by the ISM Trust in partnership The Voices Foundation. Aimed at non specialist and specialist music teachers, the resource is completely free of charge to all schools and music hubs. It takes a song (in this case a sea shanty) and uses the song to teach a variety of music skills and concepts including pulse, rhythm, pitch and human notation and on into the skills of leading and conducting a choir and singing in parts.

All our children have a singing voice and through the medium of the voice can learn and acquire musical understanding.

Jenny Trattles and Charles MacDougall, Musicianship Director and Choral Director of the Voices Foundation, support non-specialist teachers at Winterton Junior School to teach music. The videos demonstrate the progress of their children in the classroom. I have nothing but respect and admiration for these Winterton teachers. With a little help from the two excellent professionals, they show how a motivated teacher can excel at teaching music to their class in the way they teach everything else. Trattles and MacDougall are highly engaging and supportive throughout, and the ISM Trust and Voices Foundation have created videos which are instructive and entertaining.

The resource has been cleverly designed and planned. It shows, through small steps and a very clear progression routes, the progress that can be made in a short lesson (and incidentally introduces additional learning with a links to maths and literacy, for example with the movement of interlocking cogs and patterns within a dance). The basics of conducting and leading a choir are so clearly taught that I will be borrowing some of the ideas in my own tutoring work. I like the idea of the ‘three Ps’ when considering how to improve our choirs (you’ll have to watch the video to find out what they stand for!) and the vocal development session is a must for all choral leaders.

So, to conclude, I would urge all primary schools to download this new resource. Teachers in music hubs could use the videos to form the basis for their schemes of work and imitate the very clear progression routes demonstrated by the talented pair of tutors. This is primary music teaching at its best and a valuable resource has been created for all schools. The ideas demonstrated are an exemplar for further lessons on how to use the singing voice in the classroom. More of the same please!

Susan Hollingworth is a choral director, a music educator and an ISM member. She has been awarded The Gramophone Choral Director of the Year Award, a Royal Philharmonic Award, a British Empire Medal and an Honorary Doctorate for contributions to music education. Susan was formerly Musical Director of the Scunthorpe Co-operative Junior Choir for 34 years and is now their Creative Director. The choir won BBC Radio 3 Choir of the Year in 2008.

Primary Singing Toolkit

This free webinar from ISM Trust and Voices Foundation will empower primary music teachers to bring singing into the classroom