Sing and Strum
This blog page is an attempt to put together a series of relatively simply tuned songs that can be attempted by less experienced teachers. I have used it as a "contents list", with the songs on the main blog to enable you to browse more easily. Just as a blog, you'd have to scroll down through many you wouldn't use.
SONG LIST (will grow over time; please be patient, it's just me transcribing!)
Click on the title for the link; please be kind to the voice!
I’m taking home a baby bumble bee
Cockles and Mussels
Daddy's Taking Us To the Zoo Tomorrow
The Ants went Marching / The Animals Came in Two by Two
The Death of Mr Fly
Old Joe Clarke
Put your finger in the air; Woody Guthrie
Thank you for my friends
She'll be coming round the mountain when she comes
I know an old lady
Old MacDonald had a Farm
What shall we do with the drunken sailor?
On a Monday Morning
There's a hole in my bucket
Head shoulders knees and toes
I like to eat. (apples and bananas)
On top of spaghetti
Centipede's song from a poem by Roald Dahl
I do not claim to be a musician.
My early musical upbringing was radio based, either at school or at home, learning singalong that might be hummed, sung or whistled. At Grammar school, the first music lesson was effectively an audition for the school choir. We were asked to sing, individually, Early One Morning. Although we had only recently returned from Australia, I was far enough down the line to pick up the words and sang well enough to join the choir, at least until Easter, when my voice broke.
Starting teaching, in 1974, the music element of the Primary curriculum was still, largely, the radio, with read and sing along booklets to accompany the radio programme. There were occasional recorder clubs, depending on staff ability and willingness and peripatetic teachers of music.
When I got to 28, I started in a junior school where three teachers were keen guitarists, running layered clubs at lunchtime. I joined the beginners, bought a guitar and sat at home practising. Several chords later and I was leading a new beginners group; in current parlance, an opportunity for "overlearning".
Learning the guitar offered so much potential for classroom activities.
Songs are like poetry. Using the Overhead Projector, songs on acetate sheets became a form of "guided reading", learning words together, with much discussion about words that might be unknown. The songs opened discussion and research possibilities across history and geography. Poems could be turned into simple songs. Song words could be altered to create a class song, using the original tune.
In doing this, effectively we were creating a class "oral tradition".
When I became a deputy, in 1986 and head, in 1990, the ability to strum and sing enabled me to orchestrate larger events, collective activities, shared with parents, at Christmas, Easter, Harvest Festival, but also to lead a regular singing session with different year groups or phases, to release teachers for a half hour, often more. This was based on a repertoire of around 100 songs. As I still live within 12 miles of former schools, I occasionally bump into children whom I have taught, or their parents, who tell me that they are still singing the songs to their children.
Singing is both an individual and a collective activity, something that has been practised for many years. While the internet is full of easily available music and children can access this with ease, I still see value in linking song to study, but also as a means of having collective enjoyment.
So this is a collection of songs gleaned over a lifetime of experiences, school, folk clubs, festivals, radio and television. The simple guitar chords are those which I used, occasionally with a capo, but you may need to experiment a little to find a comfortable singing range. That, to me, is the pleasure of discovering strumming; it can be altered to suit your voice.
The songs might provide a stimulus for your teaching and children's enjoyment of language, the past and a sense of place.
Just enjoy the experience and, if you really think you "can't sing", you can always find the songs on the internet...