This is a continuation of my series of relatively old books that are useful in Primary Schools.
What is “Sing Together”?
This is basically a book of folk and traditional songs. There are a hundred altogether and there is a small book that pupils can read from with the melody and the words as well as a teacher book with the piano music in. There are no chords written in, so it is not ideal for guitar. This book is suitable for Key Stage 2 and 3.
Why is it good?
1) It has many well known folk songs that should be passed down to future generations.
2) It is widely used as repertoire for the ABRSM singing examinations.
3) The music is written out simply and clearly.
4) It is excellent for teaching notation as you sing. For example you can ask the children, what note is the highest you sing? What note is the lowest? What note is the word “sand”? How many beats are on the last note? Why is there a letter “p” by those words? What dynamic marking does it mean?
5) Having the notes next to the words is considered good practice in KS 2. The Music Hub report undertaken by OFSTED mentioned that many schools did not go far enough in teaching singing and bringing the notation in at the same time.
6) The music is written with the head voice in mind. If you want to get children to use their head voice, these older books are good as the more modern ones are often written in keys that are too low. Most sung music seems to have gone down a tone and half in the last 30 years which is why we have so many children trying to belt out songs rather than learn how to use their head voice.
7) The repertoire is varied from all over the world.
Why is it not widely used anymore?
1) The format is old-fashioned.
2) The songs choices are old.
3) Some might say that it would not enthuse modern children to sing.
4) Singing from a book can result in poor posture and poor technique.
5) Reliance on reading rather than singing may put some children off singing.
6) No chords for guitar.
7) There are arguably better, more modern publications out there.
If you have these books in your department, use them. There are some real gems and some songs that we really must pass down like “Cockles and Mussels” and “The Oak and the Ash”. The notation aspect is very useful, rather than just teach notation discretely, sing the notation. I always find it is best to use George Odam’s phrase “the sound before the symbol”. Sing the songs and then go into depth about their structure, singing them again with attention to all the musical elements. But do not make this your only singing resource, I would recommend many of the books by Out of the Ark as well as the excellent Singup.