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Why is that so many people in England feel they can't sing?

(63 Posts)
ZZZenAgain Sat 05-Sep-09 20:34:43

It's true though, wouldn't you say? I've noticed that in a lot of other countries I've lived in people generally seem able to read music fluently and are able to sing confidently and in tune. Or if they cannot read music, they seem able and happy enough to sing something by ear. Often when you are at parties or spend an evening with people, they'll strike up songs and I don't mean drunken yowling.

I'm also not referring to specifically musically trained people but just generally it seems to be a way of life that goes through all classes/professions. I really noticed this in Denmark for instance or Russia, where everyone seems able to sing something well and do it confidently and looking as if they enjoy it.

So why is it not like that in the UK I wonder? Is it a skill that's gone lost over the years?

ZZZenAgain Sat 05-Sep-09 20:36:06

actually Education is probably not the right topic choice for this thread...

weegiemum Sat 05-Sep-09 20:40:58

This is interesting.

Do you mean England specifically? We're in Scotland, and at our kids school they all get up and sing no bother at all, and are confident and easy going about it, happy to take a turn etc ... but they are in a Gaelic school which puts a lot of emphasis on things like music/singing as part of the cultural awareness they also promote.

I have friends in a Welsh school in Wales and we have talked about this - that music is such a part of Welsh culture that they see the same kind of trend there.

Would be interesting to know if it is the same in Ireland?

I'll be watching this, find it an interesting idea. Especially as I heard that having a good ear for music also means that you tend to be better at foreign languages (don't ask me where I heard this, it was years ago) and wonder if it also is a reason why the UK falls behind in language learning as well? My kids are all musical - but also bilingual.

ZZZenAgain Sat 05-Sep-09 20:43:26

The reason I wrote England was I was specifically not including Wales where they seem to have (or is it just a cliche?) a widespread acceptance of singing as something you can do and you do. They don't seem to see it as a difficult activity you can only do if you are particularly talented or something for particular classes to indulge in.

I think Ireland is a bit that way too.

OurLadyOfPerpetualSupper Sat 05-Sep-09 20:43:45

I don't know if it's a skill that's ever been there, if you're referring to the ability to read music.

I'm a member of a choir but can't sight-read apart from knowing the notes go up and down, and after several years have picked up the basics of timing.

But even I, at my basic, pretty rubbish level, am unusual among the people I know.

I suppose it comes down to education; music is not generally high on the agenda, and the lowest common denominator seems to be catered for.

I gave up the choir, which I loved, aged 12 because, in my school, to be a choir member was to be a subject of ridicule.

Learning to sight-read is one of the many things on my to-do list; last time I attempted, I threw the book away in disgust as the notes were called 'doh rae mi fah so la ti doh!'

choosyfloosy Sat 05-Sep-09 20:44:26

Yes, I think at the moment there is no culture of enjoying quality group singing in England, as opposed to, say, football chanting, and I'd put it down to lack of teaching singing in schools. They sing every day at ds's preschool/Reception, and they teach them rhythm, but they don't seem to teach melody at all and how to sing along with the tune.

Now that ds is in year 1 they only seem to sing once a week, and there's no live accompaniment, just a tape. It's the thing I like least about the school. I asked ds to join his school choir club and he just said 'only girls do that'. sad I am going to ask the head teacher if there's any way choir/singing can be made compulsory for all children.

weegiemum Sat 05-Sep-09 20:45:22

Zen, its interesting that you perceive it that way cos it is certainly that way in Scotland, some of the time anyway, especially in the more traditional areas, like the Highlands and Islands.

choosyfloosy Sat 05-Sep-09 20:48:12

oh btw I learned to sing at my parish church choir from age 8 by singing psalms - a really good way of learning to sing. Choir was compulsory in my primary school and I have loved singing all my life.

weegiemum Sat 05-Sep-09 20:48:34

In our school (dd1 in primary5, ds in primary3 and dd2 in primary2) they seem to sing in class most days.

They are partly using it as a means of second language acquisition, but there is more to it than that, it is part of the culture. And there are loads of boys in the choir, in fact the choir is so popular you have to audition for it!

Plus pupils from p1 up learning fiddle, chanter (for bagpipes) and the full pipes!, piano, accordion, clarsach (Scottish harp), as well as the traditional orchestral instruments.

Tortington Sat 05-Sep-09 20:51:49

i think a lot of it is the home environment - i dont think this should be put on schools

ds has has guitar lessons, i have drum lessons, and was a violinist ([poor one) at school.

dh and i love music - we have out own genres but music is always played

the kids grew up singing cheesy rock with fake guitar on tennis racket.

i still have no bother dancing round the front room. and dd joins in

can i sing - not in tune

do i like singing? i chuffin love it

consequently all my children have a passion for music

granted its shite house techno rubish shit music - i dont know where i went wrong - they were brought up on solid iron maiden and queen grin

however they love it, they love going to gigs

they love being rubbish in a rubbish band - but trying

and i think this is all down to my excellent brilliance as a parent who dances around the front room

southeastastra Sat 05-Sep-09 20:51:55

we all do knees up mother brown at family parties still grin

ZZZenAgain Sat 05-Sep-09 20:52:35

that does sound good weegie. Sounds like a fab school on that count.

I just can't help thinking singing doesn't have to be an elite thing, you need a good teacher, yes that absolutely but beyond that it doesn't involve a whole lot of expenditure to teach dc to sing, does it? I wish it wasn't seen as an elitist thing which it sometimes is or a weirdo exotic thing which is how some dc seem to view it. Why though?

Isn't it odd that when they are all listening to pop music and spending their weekends dancing to it etc, they find people who sing in their own walk of life a figure of fun?

cocolepew Sat 05-Sep-09 20:53:35

Have you seen the X Factor? It's full of people who think they can sing hmm.

ZZZenAgain Sat 05-Sep-09 20:54:18

let's have a video of you frolocking about to the electric tennis racquets please custardo!

ZZZenAgain Sat 05-Sep-09 20:57:53

The x factor baffles me in that I don't know how some of them can think they are approximating anything like the music they hear on the radio. I think it's a bit sad. They could probably almost all of them sing reasonably well if singing actively (and actually listening to what they sing) had been a regular part of their life from early childhood.

Whenever I've been somewhere - dunno offhand some show or other and the audience is asked to join in, I notice a lot of grown-ups look embarrassed and some mumble or move their mouths but don't let the sound out etc. I'm not saying it's the end of the world but if other countries are still singing nations, I don't really get why we aren't.

My cousin belts out every song in a fantastic voice but he was a chorister. My brother on the other hand would never sing in public.

OurLadyOfPerpetualSupper Sat 05-Sep-09 21:03:37

I know what you mean ZZZ - in spite of being an atheist, I love a good hymn, but singing in church is rarely a pleasurable experience as people don't want to stand out, and I suppose I'm just as guilty as I feel I need to be standing next to someone really good before I'll belt it out.

ZZZenAgain Sat 05-Sep-09 21:14:19

I'm quite self-conscious about it myself. I know when I've been at these get-togethers where people are all singing and then someone turns to me and says "come on now ZZZen, sing us an English song" I want the ground to open under me and suck me in.

I think if it was left to the home environment to encourage singing, it wouldn't happen tbh. Since probably a large number of dp would say things like : "ooh no, I can't sing, my voice would crack the windows" etc and not necessarily be wide off the mark, not ever having had much chance to learn singing themselves, their dc would grow up thinking singing is unusual and difficult and where would they learn it then anyway? Some would pick it up just singing along to a radio but not many I shouldn't think.

Maybe in the past there were more dc learning to sing in church choirs then.

DEMifnotwhynot Sat 05-Sep-09 21:20:23

I used to sink in tune but wreck my voice so its now a bit hit and miss but i still sing. All the time when i am happy. It drives ds mad. He told me the other day to stop singing and be quiet so he could he the music properally. Oh well. He doesnt sing (dsis described him as being the only kid she knows who makes nursery rhymes sound angry) Instead he beat boxes, and is rather good at it. But tell him so or asking him to do it makes him stop sad but he does it when he is happy. Lovely to hear. We always have music here to. Lots of different music styles. Ds has his own taste of music and very particular about it. His fav is drum and base and that isnt really sing along friendly hence the beat boxing i guess grin

weegiemum Sat 05-Sep-09 21:24:46

Zen, it is a good school in that respect - and most others as well!!

Hadn't thought about the church thing. I get a fabulous loud, tuneful, extended singing session once a week at church - mix of new stuff, old hymns etc, and in our church everyone belts it out.

We have a lot of the young people - teens - involved in the music - singing, guitar, leading, doing sound desk etc .... wonder if that is cos they have been exposed to it in church from an early age. Nothing as formal as a church choir - we're a much more happy-clappy congregation - but a lot of emphasis is put on the music being done well.

OurLadyOfPerpetualSupper Sat 05-Sep-09 21:27:33

I actually hardly ever listen to music apart from what's on the radio - I get bored with popular music and don't know where to start with classical, apart from the obvious - and I stopped buying CDs ages ago as they end up as clutter in our house - cracked cases, missing discs.

But I do love singing, and if I hear something with a good melody I'm away.

ZZZenAgain Sat 05-Sep-09 21:46:09

I like singing too. Can't pretend I'd wow anyone with it but I enjoy it.

trickerg Sat 05-Sep-09 22:16:26

Have you been watching Gareth Malone too?

dontyoudarequotemeDailyMail Sat 05-Sep-09 22:26:18

"Everyone has a beautiful voice. You just have to know how to use it."

Jo Estill Singing educator and researcher

ZZZenAgain Sat 05-Sep-09 22:31:53

no not recently trickeg, I did see an excerpt of a programme with him on it but that was a while back now, can't remember what it was, he was forming a school choir. Is that what you mean? They winded up singing Fields of Gold

dontyoudare, do you believe that though? I've met some people who have a really unattractive speaking voice, it's not that common, most voices are fine (I think anyway) but there is the odd one with no obvious beauty in it

Hulababy Sat 05-Sep-09 22:33:20

I love that in DD's school singing is compulsary from reception. And they do it really well. Every child once in juniors join the school choir; from reception they do hymn practise and daily singing in assembly.

DD loves it and works really hard with her singing. She has sang solo at school and in her drama class, and is really so confident at just 7y.

I, however, just can;t do it. I mouth the songs in assembly when at school (am a TA these days) or in church at weddings, etc. I feel so self conscious and adament I cannot sing. So I just won't sing out loud in public. I would love to have just a fraction of DD's confidence.

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