Product review: Sing Up

Subject: The Arts
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Contact: www.singup.org Reviewed by: John Dabell

I have just returned home with a spring in my step having watched my football team play; in fact I am feeling rather warm and fuzzy. This is a strange response given that they lost 4-1. But my elation may have come from me unwittingly hacking into positive chemicals released during an afternoon’s singing in the terraces. My fellow fans may not have realised it, but endorphins and oxytocin were strutting their stuff inside all of us, thanks to a good old sing song. According to psychologists singing gets us high, in short, and belting out a tune alongside hundreds of others increases our tolerance for pain, improves happiness, and makes us feel better connected to our social group.

Taken in a school context, then, singing makes perfect sense. Good quality singing provision should be a right for students, and the online award-winning organisation Sing Up is already used by many schools to make singing more engaging and accessible. The organisation has shown over the years what can be done to raise the status of singing and increase opportunities for school children throughout the country to enjoy singing as part of their everyday lives. They believe that singing is important in helping children can develop their understanding of music, raise attainment and develop permanent tools to express themselves with self-confidence and resourcefulness.

The catch for those of us in the secondary sector has been that so far, Sing Up has delivered its resources to primary schools only. But now there’s really something for us to sing about, with membership being announced for secondary schools too, offering stacks of tools and support for putting singing right at the centre of learning at KS3+. The Secondary Package includes a wide range of teaching resources and songs to support you for including some singing in your lessons or to act as a full-blown comprehensive foundation for singing school-wide. If singing is not your forte, this is for you. If singing is your bag, then guess what? This is for you.

Words and music

School membership offers a flexible and comprehensive package featuring unlimited streaming from a unique Song Bank, providing access to nearly 800 songs, from pop to classical, specially arranged for young and developing voices. You also get 85 download credits with Secondary Membership, regardless of your school size (with the ability to use credits to take songs offline) and an issue of the Sing Up Magazine with 15 new songs each time, plus teaching tools and articles on teaching practice.

Membership also means you have full access to hundreds of comprehensive teaching resources including topic plans, assembly plans, training videos, nativities and Sing Up Music, which is a flexible music curriculum scheme using Song Bank songs. This certainly makes planning easy and learning fun.

The Song Bank is a terrific resource to dip into. You can easily search for a song by its title, style, subject or age group. There is even a Top Ten Curriculum Songs section, where you can find songs related to all subjects. If you need help selecting a song then you can browse further suggested playlists from ‘Disney ditties’ to ‘In love with languages’. Type into the Search bar what you are looking for and resources galore open up. Clicking on a song title you like means you will find various versions of the song including backing and performance tracks. Not only that but each one comes with a set of teaching notes, whiteboard lyrics and printable song sheets. Having just watched the Bond movie Skyfall I searched for the theme song and wasn’t disappointed as Sing Up gave me everything I needed to try it for myself. Adele would have been proud! You can preview songs by clicking on a play button on listed songs or listen to a song in full. The quality of the music and singing on the site is superb.

Something for everyone

Also on the website you will find Teaching Tools, which is where you will unearth seasonal assembly plans and countless lesson and topic/activity plans. Then there is the Knowledge Hub where you will find advice, How-To guides, brilliant training videos, webinars and more. The Videos section is the place to head for teaching ideas to inspire your singing. You can access Sing Up Webinars with expert vocal leaders here, which will help you deliver outstanding lessons.

At £295 I’m convinced you get great value for money given the wealth of resources on offer. The transition between primary and secondary school is renowned for being a time when many pupils become less engaged in musical activities – but this resource can help to weather the changeover, promote continuity and inspire new musical journeys and experiences.

Sounds great

NCFE’s new suite of Music Technology qualifications are ideal for learners who are motivated and challenged by learning through hands-on experience. The qualifications are aimed at learners with an interest in music production and recording and allow them to gain practical skills in creating music using technology. These GCSE-equivalent vocational qualifications are approved for the 2018 performance tables and any schools that have approval for the previous Music Technology qualifications will receive automatic approval – NCFE is dedicated to making your life easier. Visit the website now to apply easily for approval: www.ncfe.org.uk (0191 240 8822, schools@ncfe.org.uk)