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genuinely don't know - school and music/choir

(11 Posts)
askasillyquestion Thu 29-Jan-15 13:53:31

Genuinely can't work out if this is my problem or not?

My dd - a young Yr 3- sings in the choir at her ordinary (though musically inclined) state primary. Recently she's been saying that she feels like she's not good enough and it makes her miserable and she wants to leave. Which is fine, so I said yes of course. I never force them to carry on if they're miserable. However, it's the sort of school where you don't normally leave a musical activity without a bit of a fuss.

The choir now has just over 20 children in it. Two years ago it had over 70 (and the school had been particularly pleased by the size of this choir and talked about how great it was to have so many involved).

However, choir leader has now changed.. Children are now required to sing in three part harmony - which they weren't previously, and standards seem much higher. I queried whether perhaps some, including my dd, are finding the rehearsals too hard (hence the exodus of children). Head says 'we have to have some standards' - which I understand- also added "we want the best choir in the borough - we're known for our music". But dd is not unmusical - she plays the violin - just preparing for Grade 1, and sings fine elsewhere. So I'm surprised that she can't cope with a primary school choir.

I love to sing myself - and it makes me sad that a musical activity that for children is often open to everyone, should have been narrowed down so greatly. It's a school in a very mixed inner-city area and - as a governor - I'm aware of how much emphasis is placed on allowing all children access to music- particularly with afterschool clubs - it's something we spend some pupil premium money on. To me, the attitude to choir seems peculiarly elitist - at odds with the school's ethos elsewhere.

The head's argument is that all children get to sing in Assembly - so the choir should be for children who can stand the pace. But only the choir performs, and those children have a huge fuss made of them.

Does it matter? Possibly not. I'm not desperately musical - though I've always sung in choirs (and still do). Perhaps I'm just sad that my daughter can't cope- the Head informed me the problem was all down to dd's "lack of focus"...but I'm not sure how she's explaining away the other 50 children who've left.

Sorry for epic. I genuinely don't know if I'm unreasonable to be aggrieved and a little concerned about the attitude - or whether I just don't understand about school music. Perhaps someone musical and or educational could enlighten me?

Hoppinggreen Thu 29-Jan-15 14:08:31

Can't answer specifically about school choirs but my DD sings in a really good local choir, they perform locally and nationally ( including Albert Hall) and have recorded. However, there are NO auditions to join. They are spayed to attend regularly and give their best but as long as they are trying that's enough for the Choir Master. They believe that commitment and enthusiasm are more important than talent, although there are some really good singers there.
Most of all the kids love going, they can start at 5 and keep going until 18 and many do. If it's not fun and the kids aren't enjoying it then these so called " standards" mean nothing. Unfortunately your new choir leader seems to have made it more about achievement than enjoyment, which explains why so many have left.
I'm not sure what you can do though, I would be annoyed as well. At this age it should be for everyone and not just the so called best singers

Hoppinggreen Thu 29-Jan-15 14:09:09

Supposed to attend regularly, pretty sure they don't spay them !!

Nothavingfunrightnow Thu 29-Jan-15 14:11:47

Your school is not being inclusive and is not giving all the children the same opportunity to participate. Perhaps that could be your starting point when you take this up with the governing body. Not sure that I would bother, though, but that's just because I tend to be lazy and not very confrontational.

Seeline Thu 29-Jan-15 14:15:29

My DD sings in her school choir for Y4-Y6 children. There is no audition to get in, but IMO the standard is pretty good. It is run by a proper music teacher which I think is unusual for state schools? However they do things in 3 part harmony, and they do actions to some of the songs. The range of repertoire is vast - Christmas carols and songs, pop music, show songs etc. Above all the music teacher makes it fun - really fun. She is really enthusiastic about everything and it rubs off on the kids. From what you say, it seems as though the expectations have maybe increased a lot, but there is no fun in the singing. I too have always sung in choirs, and whilst I do enjoy the singing, if the rehearsals weren't fun, I'm not sure I would be as keen. As a Governor, could you request to go along to some of the practices and see for yourself?

leedy Thu 29-Jan-15 14:15:59

I've sung in choirs all my life and it does sound like they're going overboard on the selectiveness, surely it's more important that more kids get an opportunity to do choral/part singing than to have the "best" choir.

(I did sing three part harmony etc. at that age but it was in a separate out of school choir.)

TravelinColour Thu 29-Jan-15 14:18:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Maryann1975 Thu 29-Jan-15 14:18:17

I think it's really sad that they have turned a school choir into something so competitive. There is no need and it is a real shame that children like your dd are being made to feel they aren't good enough for something that should be fun.
I am not anti competition, but I think things like music should be all inclusive to children who may not be able to afford or don't have parental support to take part in things like choir or music groups outside school.

Doyouthinktheysaurus Thu 29-Jan-15 14:22:44

That's really sad. My dses have both sung in their school choir which is all inclusive and have both got so much out of it. I think it's a real shame if children are denied the opportunity.

More than 30 years ago I went to school with a selective choir and I'm still bitter at being rejectedgrin I just think it's so sad if that ethos is continuing as all children benefit from the joy of singing and performing can build such confidence.

Ds2 just got the opportunity to go the local secondary as part of the choir for a musical workshop. 400 children from local schools, orchestra and choir all bought together and were taught songs they performed. They sounded incredible but most importantly ds2 and I'm sure all the others had so much fun and came away feeling so positive about it.

askasillyquestion Thu 29-Jan-15 14:30:39

thanks so much everyone - some good thoughts there! I'll continue musing on what to do (if anything). Motto of the year is 'pick your battles'!

Glad no-one's getting spayed though!

diddl Thu 29-Jan-15 14:39:18

I suppose if they want a competition only choir that's up to them.

Shame they can't have a competition one & a school one iyswim.

Is there another choir that she could join instead?

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