AIBU to tell ds head teacher that I am shocked only girls are in the choir ???

(72 Posts)
aldiconvert Fri 29-Nov-13 21:26:17

My ds1 age 7 joined choir at the start of the year and loved it .... He is not a great singer but enjoyed it and I was so glad he was joining in as it is good for his confidence etc .... However, after a term of 'ribbing ' for being the only boy, he has now had enough and dropped out .... I am proud that he lasted so long and went even though none of his friends did , but I am also disappointed that he has dropped out just before Xmas concert Etc ... However , why on earth was he the only boy in the choir ???? A I b u to tell the head that I am shocked that no boys are in the choir and the ones who were are not being retained ???? Surely a choir should be full of boys and girls these days ???!!!!! Raging !

aldiconvert Fri 29-Nov-13 21:27:20

My friends are telling me to leave it ... Hence the post !

IneedAwittierNickname Fri 29-Nov-13 21:28:29

My son is the only boy in ks1 choir, I assume that's because no other boys wanted to join

SecretNutellaFix Fri 29-Nov-13 21:29:34

Don't go in about the boys not being in the choir.

Approach it that you are concerned he has felt forced into dropping out because of taunts from certain other children in the class.

Was it the other boys in the class or was it the girls in the choir?

AgentZigzag Fri 29-Nov-13 21:29:46

Maybe the lads don't want to be in a choir? confused

Would you really make them?

Raging?

Hopefully you've just hyped that up a bit for the AIBU audience?

Euphemia Fri 29-Nov-13 21:29:54

When did he tell you about the ribbing?

AgentZigzag Fri 29-Nov-13 21:30:45

You're not raging at your DS dropping out are you?

But if no boys want to be in it, what can the school do? I bet they've bent over backwards to try and get boys to join the choir.

Annunziata Fri 29-Nov-13 21:31:14

Well they can't force them.

MissMillament Fri 29-Nov-13 21:31:33

So what do you suggest the HT does about it, OP. They would probably love to have more boys involved in the choir so I'm sure if you have some suggestions about how to encourage that participation the head would welcome your comments.

ChunkyPickle Fri 29-Nov-13 21:35:57

The school could clamp down on sexist bullying, the same way they would on any other kind of -ism or bullying.

Sexism really is far too acceptable still, and this is bad for everyone.

NoComet Fri 29-Nov-13 21:38:54

It seems to be par for the course at junior and senior school there are way more girls sing than boys. I don't think there are any boys in the primary choir at the moment and their have only ever been one or two.

DD1 sings in the county choir and that too is almost all girls. It's a real pity.

jamdonut Fri 29-Nov-13 21:39:09

Our school choir started off a just over a month ago with about 35 children, mostly girls and about ten boys.

By today about a third of the girls had dropped out and there is one year 6 boy and three determined year 3 boys left.

You can't make them come, it is voluntary.

The girls that dropped out were encouraged to by a Queen Bee type who decided it was boring and wanted everyone to follow her suit. Despite talking to the girls about it, the peer pressure was greater.sad

OrlandoWoolf Fri 29-Nov-13 21:40:46

That's really sad. My DS (8) is in the choir and is definitely in a minority. I really hope no one would tease him but children do - schools need to address sexism and sexist boys do this, girls do that attitudes.

I'm not sure how a school can attract boys to a choir and it's a vicious circle. Just like Billy Elliot. It needs boys to get more boys.

Children should be taught not to tease children for being different.

OrlandoWoolf Fri 29-Nov-13 21:42:57

The pressure to fit in must be awful on children. Things aren't cool, things are "nerdy" and they are boy / girls things.

How do we get children to be themselves without peer pressure?

Sunnysummer Fri 29-Nov-13 21:43:36

YANBU to be shocked, but YABU to blame the school. This is a much wider cultural issue, where singing has become a girly thing and for performance more than enjoyment. Boys only seem to be keen in choirs that are all-male (which have their own sexism issues!), as pps said, the school would probably love to balance out their choir.

If you want to raise concerns about the taunting that is absolutely reasonable, but is a separate issue.

AgentZigzag Fri 29-Nov-13 21:43:58

Hopefully they'll come back in dribs and drabs jammy, less attention on them that way.

There must have been something that drew them in in the first place, it'll draw them back again I'm sure.

ThistledownAndCobweb Fri 29-Nov-13 21:44:43

They aren't refusing to allow boys to be choir members, but as it appears to be a voluntary activity conversely they can't force them either

MammaTJ Fri 29-Nov-13 21:45:22

How is the HM meant to make boys join?

OrlandoWoolf Fri 29-Nov-13 21:48:13

Some aggressive Friday night posters here.

It might be worth just mentioning to the Head or the teacher concerned why your DS left. It is a voluntary activity but get the right songs and you can spark an interest in those who might not have thought about it.

Like the choir performing some pop songs in assembly.

EndoplasmicReticulum Fri 29-Nov-13 21:49:52

My son is one of two boys in the choir. (total about 20 I think?). No teasing that he has mentioned. I'd be more cross about the teasing.

Floggingmolly Fri 29-Nov-13 21:50:36

How do you suggest they retained your son when it was his decision to drop out?

CecilyP Fri 29-Nov-13 21:50:44

I would presume that all members of the choir are volunteers and your DS was the only boy volunteer. No different from many years ago when I was in junior school and a boy in my class was also the only boy in the choir and was happy to remain so for years. Agree with others you can't demand that other boys join the choir, but you can speak to the school about the ribbing that has put your DS off.

MamaMary Fri 29-Nov-13 21:51:25

Agree that it's a real shame there are no boys in the choir and that your DS had to drop out.

But...raging? What do you expect the school to do about it?

SatinSandals Fri 29-Nov-13 21:52:51

My boys would have hated to be in a choir, and since they can't sing in tune I doubt they would have been wanted! I can't see the sense of making them to equal it up.

manicinsomniac Fri 29-Nov-13 21:57:23

If it's voluntary they can't force can they! Our Y2s and 3s are all in compulsory choir.

I only have 3 boys in my junior dance club and only 1 in my senior dance troupe. I'd love more but how am I supposed to make them?

Isawitchcackling Fri 29-Nov-13 21:59:06

YANBU, a choir should encourage boys to join. I do think though that unless you have a male choir teacher then boys just don't see it as cool. Our head teacher runs the choir and is male so there are plenty of boys.

SatinSandals Fri 29-Nov-13 22:01:46

You can encourage it but nothing more. I think they generally are encouraged.

OrlandoWoolf Fri 29-Nov-13 22:05:47

The main thing a school can do is to encourage a school culture where children do what they want without peer pressure.

Instill that into a child and it's great. Or else you get people not trying academically because it's not cool or doing stuff to fit in.

How a school encourages that attitude is a massive question. I went to a school recently where the pupils told me that the school had a culture of learning and pupils were encouraged to try - and no one took the piss if they did try.

ipadquietly Fri 29-Nov-13 22:07:53

Does the head teacher run the choir?

CoffeeQueen187 Fri 29-Nov-13 22:07:54

Schools do try and get boys to join the choir. My DS's school pretty much harassed me to sign DS up for it untill I gave them a firm 'no'. They kept sending letters home and reminders through text message. They even had the class teacher approach the parents and asked them to sign up. This went on almost daily for about 3 weeks.

I would have happily signed him up, only DS didn't want to join it as none of his friends were.

I'm not going to force him to attend a club he doesn't want to attend.

Daykin Fri 29-Nov-13 22:12:14

No boys in our school choir. I'm not sure if it is a nerd thing, there are boys in the, arguably more nerdy, recorder group.
Are boys less likely to want to give up their lunchtimes? Less of a problem for girls, sometimes, if all they are doing is avoiding being hit by a football being played with by boys who won't let girls join in.

(I may be projecting)

AgentZigzag Fri 29-Nov-13 22:13:57

Could some of the lads voices be breaking?

Don't know what age that happens at, it could put them off a bit possibly? (I'm thinking of the fast food server in the Simpsons grin very funny).

OrlandoWoolf Fri 29-Nov-13 22:19:21

Not at 7.

AgentZigzag Fri 29-Nov-13 22:23:08

Not the OP's DS, but from the other years?

teacherandguideleader Fri 29-Nov-13 22:32:35

You can't force boys to take part. One of the clubs I run only has girls - there is no sinister exclusion of boys - it is just the way it has worked out in that year group!

aldiconvert Fri 29-Nov-13 22:53:48

Thanks for all the feedback !!! I think the reason I am so frustrated is that I myself am a teacher and where I work we have a thriving choir of both boys and girls .... Totally voluntary. The music teacher is amazing and made it ' cool' to be in choir and chooses songs and performances that boys will enjoy ... So I know it can be done ..... I know it is always going to be a challenge to motivate the boys but feel like ds school have given up trying and adopted a defeatist attitude and the teacher who does it is in a rut and could do with fresh ideas and a male co worker maybe ... Generally his school is outstanding and I feel that this area could be turned around quite easily if the head viewed it as worth doing so ... Ds absolutely loved choir then just cried out of the blue after the comments that he ignored all term began to wear him down. I am not raging with him... I would never force him to do anything hr didn't want to ... But I know he Loved it and am dad for him that the choir culture there is not like at our school where he would still be a member I am sure .....

zeno Fri 29-Nov-13 23:05:11

A constructive angle to take would be to ask what their approach is to encourage boys to sing more, in a "what can I do to support you" way.

Have a look at the Sing Up website for stuff about getting boys singing - there has been some amazing work going on around the country in schools. It takes concerted effort and expert support to shift gender balance in a choir, so don't go in behaving as though you think they just haven't bothered their arses to try hard enough.

If he does want to sing but just not as the only boy in the choir, find the area youth or junior choir.

trinity0097 Sat 30-Nov-13 00:21:29

How sad. Our school choirs are extremely well attended, by both boys and girls. One of the key things is that the only thing they miss to do choir is a slot at lunch where they have to sit and silently read for 30min. Rather than a break time or something. Boys will mainly prefer to have a playtime than sing, but would choose singing over another lunch of silent reading!

curlew Sat 30-Nov-13 00:31:37

My dd is at a boy's school with girls in the 6th. Her choir leader said yesterday that she was really pleased that there were some "proper sopranos" among the year 7s this year. Dd's rage would make the OP's pale into insignificance.......

SatinSandals Sat 30-Nov-13 07:50:05

I think that you are right in that you need to choose songs and performances that boys will like. Part of the problem, often seen on MN, is the denial that there are gender differences. There are huge differences. The timing of the choir is one if the first hurdles. My boys didn't like to spend long eating lunch because they wanted to be outside, so they were hardly likely to give up a playtime to sing. I also can't see them wanting to do it after a day at school.

OrlandoWoolf Sat 30-Nov-13 08:00:36

Sounds like a challenge for Gareth Malone.

Make singing attractive.

OrlandoWoolf Sat 30-Nov-13 08:01:47

And that's not necessarily true about gender differences.

I ran a chess club at lunch and had both boys and girls attend. I ran a computer club at lunch - equally well attended.

Shente Sat 30-Nov-13 08:08:46

The secondary school where I work has a brilliant male voice ensemble that sings contemporary songs and is much in demand. I'm sure our music teachers would be only too pleased to bring them to sing for a local primary school. Perhaps see if a local secondary has similar and offer to try and arrange a visit. Seeing "big" boys performing well (and hearing about their trips abroad with the group) might be very motivational for them

curlew Sat 30-Nov-13 08:15:03

At my ds's school, all performing arts are "for girls". Ds utterly refuses to do any more than the curriculum demands- even though he does loads of extra curricular music and drama.

The school has tried really hard to change this, but it seems ingrained.

puffinnuffin Sat 30-Nov-13 08:23:35

I have run lots of school choirs in various schools. Usually at age 7 there are quite a few boys. By Year 6 though it seems to be perceived to be very 'uncool' for a boy to sing in a choir. The way round it is make sure the style of music appeals to boys (then you can gradually work on other things too). Also a boys only choir to start with to grab enthusiasm is a good idea- it provides safety in numbers until they become more confident.

It is sad that singing isn't seen to be cool for boys. However it is very common in many schools.

EndoplasmicReticulum Sat 30-Nov-13 08:29:26

I would agree that the timing of the club is important, my other son didn't want to join because he would miss half an hour of playtime.

ICameOnTheJitney Sat 30-Nov-13 08:41:12

Our HT went on a campaign to get more boys involved...she did this by making it more attractive. She arraneged them to sing at a local hotel with a party and a gift for them all afterwards! Loads more kids signed up and went along....the hotel then arranged a tea for the kids in the new year as a thank you for singing there....the choir now has more boys in it.

curlew Sat 30-Nov-13 08:42:28

Sadly, I think it is a gender thing. My dd is in the 6th form of a boy's school- there is loads of music because they have been boys only and so haven't had the "that's for girls" stuff.

aldiconvert Sat 30-Nov-13 09:41:19

Thanks so much for all the constructive supportive ideas .... I feel calmer now and rather than go in cross and rubbing school up the wrong way like I would have done without meaning to, I can use lots of your suggestions so thanks !

You are shocked and raging?

Rightly so, you should be shocked and raging, with the bullying attitude in the school! How come they dont tackle issues such as diversity, "you are all valid and valuable whatever your gender and your interests"?

The choir seem a good place to start!

How come they are not bigging up the choir and actively trying to recruit boys?

Iknowitseemsabragbutitsnot Sat 30-Nov-13 09:51:09

Snort at it being a gender thing. Rubbish. It is true that ds1 was the only boy in the choir in y6 in his primary school. However he is in the sixth form of an all boys comprehensive and has been in choir since he started. Choir in his school is very popular and if you are a member it is obligatory to give up a lot of break times, after school, evenings and sometimes weekends.

At our school the choir is massive. I've just received a memo from the music teacher and about 3/4 of my class will be out for a carol rehearsal next week. I would say at least 1/3 boys in the whole school are in it. Schools need to make choirs fun and inclusive. The music teacher is brilliant so the kids all want to be involved in everything she does.

SatinSandals Sat 30-Nov-13 09:58:44

I knew someone would say it wasn't a gender problem, it will never be addressed if people deny it is a problem. I bet he wouldn't be in the choir at a mixed one.

My ds was the only boy in his primary choir. He was not bullied though, or even ribbed about it. The choir was happy he was there, and he felt happy there.

He is now in secondary, and choir is compulsory for every child. He still enjoys the choir.

curlew Sat 30-Nov-13 10:12:58

"Snort at it being a gender thing. Rubbish. It is true that ds1 was the only boy in the choir in y6 in his primary school. However he is in the sixth form of an all boys comprehensive and has been in choir since he started. Choir in his school is very popular and if you are a member it is obligatory to give up a lot of break times, after school, evenings and sometimes weekends."
Hmm. Doesn't that rather reinforce the point that it is a gender thing? The significant point there is all boys comprehensive. As I said earlier, there is a very active musical scene at the all boys school my dd is at too. There isn't in the co-ed school my ds attends.

redskyatnight Sat 30-Nov-13 10:36:21

The DC's junior school choir is extremely popular - almost a third of the school are members.

but ... it is very predominantly girls (about 10 to 1). In Y3 the ratio is about 5:1, but there are no Y5 or Y6 boys at all.

My DS loved the choir in Y3, carried on into Y4 and then gave up. no one was taunting him, there were other boys (albeit not so many). The choir was seen as cool. He simply said he didn't want to spend so much time in such a girl heavy environment. DD gave up football for the opposite reason (too many boys), until the school started a girls' only football club, when she got interested again.

I absolutely agree your DS shouldn't have felt pressurised to stop - but there are more subtle pressures than being teased. How the school encourages more boys to get involved is another question I guess (espeically as I guess running the choir is a voluntary activity?)

ForalltheSaints Sat 30-Nov-13 10:47:48

Try and approach it in a positive way, about how can the school encourage boys to want to sing?

aldiconvert Sat 30-Nov-13 12:41:44

Would a letter be best or popping in to see the head do you think ????

A mention to the Head might be good, actually, as a bright "oh, it's a shame that DS is the only boy in the choir when you must have so many great singers amongst the lads. Wonder why that is?"
I used to run school choirs. Almost without exception, they were a lunchtime activity that was on at the same time as football. Most of the boys dropped out because they had to choose. The school refused to allow me to change the time of rehearsals. The two choirs I was allowed to run at other times had a pretty balanced intake and retention.
Could be something like this.

MmmmWhiteWine Sat 30-Nov-13 13:01:07

So other boys don't want to be in the choir and somehow that's the school's fault? confused

I'm sure the head teacher will be delighted with your constructive suggestions and will look forward to all future interactions with you....

curlew Sat 30-Nov-13 14:36:32

Obviously it's not the school's fault.
But the school is in a position to try to
do something about it, so why
not try?

aldiconvert Sat 30-Nov-13 15:26:05

Well I don't want to be know as 'that mum' at school and upset them but at the same time, I strongly feel that the school is in a strong position to do a lot more than they currently do to encourage boys to sing .... It is an outstanding school but I feel that actually if ofsted had a tick box on this specific issue it would be a big fat unsatisfactory fail ! Whilst it will always be a challenge, just reading above threads that have success due to brilliant, dynamic, modern thinking music teachers, supportive heads and thoughtful careful time tabling .... We can do better than we currently are in this particular school .... I think it could be changed if tackled in the right way ..,can only try ....

aldiconvert Sat 30-Nov-13 15:27:47

Above posts not threads sorry

Theas18 Sat 30-Nov-13 15:36:07

DH, when he taught in a mixed primary had reasonably well mixed choirs in the lower years and less up the school..he was thinking of a senior boys choir for years 5&6 but the politics of that we're huge... ( he now teaches boys only). Sing up! Was great for the kids there.

My kids sing and have done all along. Mostly in a single sex singing or school setting though. They didn't joint the primary choir - it was badly lead and "shouty" sadly. Engaging kids in singing is something that is so beneficial education wise.

Do say something in a constructive way. Good luck!

polgar Sat 30-Nov-13 15:39:42

The boys in the school should be given a mandatory subscription to the MN feminism boards.

aldiconvert Sat 30-Nov-13 15:41:05

Thank you everyone who has posted wise words .... I will update once managed to speak to the busy head !!!

DeWe Sat 30-Nov-13 15:53:47

But not as many boys want to join choir.
At infant level they have a choir, open to all, year after year it's all barring about 2-3 girls, and about 2-3 boys do it sometimes. The teacher does actively encourage the boys, I've seen her. With my ds he likes the idea, but when faced with a lunchtime of football with his friendsor singing, he'll go for the football every time.

Junior level there are three choirs currently. Audition choir-generally about 29 girls, 1 boy. Then there's the main choir, anyone can join. That's round about 100 children. never more than 5-6 boys, usually not even that. She regularly appeals for more boys, and has recruited a very charismatic male teacher-still no boys come forward.
Then there is the boys choir. About 20 boys in that. However, one of the great appeals to the boys is that it's over assembly one day, I would say a good proportion (having talked to parents) do it because they would like to miss assembly rather than because they want to do choir.

The wanting to do it is a big thing. To put a comparison with something similar. I was chaperoning recently for a amateur production of Sound of music. I did the auditions (Doh a deer sang 100+ times!!)and there were well over 100 girls for 8 parts, 7 boys for 4 (2 teams).

If you compare it to judo, for example, that dd2 does. Most of the time she's been 1 of 2-3 girls out of about 30. There's no exclusion-in fact a girl often would be given priority over a boy for a waiting list space, just simply that more boys want to do it.

Madmammy83 Sat 30-Nov-13 15:56:35

I'd be more inclined to approach the head teacher about your son being "ribbed" for a whole term because he enjoyed something his peers deemed uncool. Do not stand by and let your son be bullied out of something he wanted to do.

RedHelenB Sat 30-Nov-13 16:18:09

Boys choir is probably the way to go!

SatinSandals Sat 30-Nov-13 18:11:46

The only thing that will really make it work is making it attractive to boys so that they really want to join.

SE13Mummy Sun 01-Dec-13 00:15:32

As others have said, it's not so much the fact that your DS was the only boy in choir that matters, it's that he was constantly teased for it that is the issue that is worth bringing up with the school.

If the school is outstanding perhaps it has the capacity to organise a separate choir for boys, or maybe to reschedule choir to happen during lesson time instead of lunchtime. There are lots of different ways to promote membership of the choir if the school is willing to try, and if the broader curriculum is sufficiently valued by parents - it won't work if parents will complain that X has to miss maths/science/whatever for 30 minutes a week and that those subjects are more important than music.

When I've run school choirs I've found that lunchtime rehearsals result in somewhat sporadic attendance and that children who want to play football do drop out (especially if their football day clashes with choir - it's not unreasonable). I ended up running a choir whilst the rest of KS2 had singing assembly. It meant that children could choose to sing as a key stage or to sing as part of a choir. In terms of recruiting boys it was great as there was no loss of face given that it was singing time for everyone. It also worked well for children who were unable to stay for after school clubs or whose organisational skills were such that they'd miss lunchtime choir because they'd forget!

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