Whilst we appreciate that there are currently complicated issues surrounding singing, the Sutton Music Education Hub believe that it is our responsibility to create opportunities for children to sing regularly. Although the press focuses on the possible risks of singing in the current environment, we believe the overall benefits far outweigh these risks, many of which can be mitigated with a robust risk assessment. The benefits of singing have been promoted for many years, and lots of these are transferable skills that can support a child in other areas of the curriculum.
Here are some of the benefits of singing:
- Physical activity that involves the entire body
- Increased interactions between different parts of the brain
- Improved communication skills
- Development of individual identity
- Expression of emotions
- Promotes social inclusion
- Greater understanding of musical concepts, e.g. structures and phrasing
- Improved literacy skills through engagement with song lyrics
- Builds confidence and self-esteem
These benefits are further supported in a Music Mark article, ’10 Things Schools Should Know About Music’, which you can read here.
Singing Support Survey 2020-21
In a recent Hub survey to understand how COVID-19 has affected singing across the borough, we found out that singing is happening in 81% of Sutton schools, with a focus on whole-class singing in bubbles. We also discovered that 53% of our schools plan to participate in a performance involving singing this academic year (2020-21). This data shows us that singing is still happening despite restrictions and that children can access a well-rounded music curriculum, including singing.
The Department for Education states that “All pupils should have access to a quality arts education. Music, dance and drama build confidence and help children live happier, more enriched lives, and discover the joy of expressing themselves.” By following the current Government guidance, it is possible to continue singing activities in your school by adapting and ensuring that the appropriate measures are in place. Through our survey, we identified ways in which schools are adapting to continue singing activities.
- Recording the children singing and making videos ‘sewing’ clips of each year group singing together
- Bubble singing assemblies
- Class singing in halls
- Singing in class bubbles, all facing the same direction
- Online choir rehearsals
If pupils are attending school and are in a consistent bubble, singing can take place. Where pupils are singing outside of their bubbles, additional risk mitigation will be needed. For further guidance, please visit this website.
Sutton Music Service choirs
At Sutton Music Service, we have adapted our choir rehearsals, which resumed in September with a rigorous risk assessment and the following measures in place:
- rehearsals are limited to 45 minutes
- restricted number of singers per rehearsal
- increased ventilation
- all singers are socially distanced (at least 2 metres apart)
- all singing to be at low to moderate volume levels
- choir conductor stands behind a plastic banner at least 3-5 meters in front of the nearest singer
- 15 minutes between rehearsals for ventilation and cleaning
All of these measures ensure that our rehearsals remain COVID-19 secure whilst giving children access to high-quality vocal provision. In light of the second National Lockdown, our ensemble rehearsals have now moved online via Teams. However, we plan to be able to resume face-to-face rehearsals again in January 2021.
Keep Sutton singing
If you are keen to kick-start safe singing in your school and are not sure where to start, Music Mark has some really useful guidance and risk assessments that are regularly reviewed and updated. In addition to this, you may want to read and share this guidance written by Professor Martin Ashley, commissioned by Sing Up and Music Mark. The Sutton Music Education Hub is delighted to be able to nominate all of the schools in Sutton for the Schools Music Mark Membership. All schools should have received their membership details by now, if you have not, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will chase this up for you.
If it is not possible to re-start singing activities in your school at this time, please do signpost your keen singers to our choirs; Sutton Songbirds, Sutton Young Singers and Sutton Youth Choir. Our choirs cater to singers from KS1 to KS5, and all of the information about our choirs can be found on our website here. In addition to this, we hold regular CPD sessions and have produced several singing resources to keep you singing in school and at home!
Safe singing remains a priority for us as we move through the coming months and if there is anything that we can do to support singing in your school, please do not hesitate to contact us.