Here at Starling Arts, we love teachers. From the educators we meet in our schools work, to the musical pioneers transforming music education on ever-tightening budgets, we have huge respect for the people who devote their lives to educating others.
Within the Starling Arts community there are many teachers working tirelessly in classrooms across London and so, this World Teachers’ Day, we wanted to show our appreciation towards them and asked some of them for their thoughts on how singing impacts their invaluable work.
“I use singing all the time in the everyday classroom”, says Hannah, a primary school teacher who sings with the Starling Singers. “There is a song for everything and, as I teach Year 1, these songs are so useful in engraining key principles into children’s brains.” Hannah observed that singing in a Starling Arts choir has helped her in the classroom, too. “It has definitely given me more confidence to deliver singing activities at school. I run singing assemblies for Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 and Starling has taught me to give it your all.”
The mindful benefits of singing warmups on both teacher and student were a common theme. “For myself I use these techniques for focus (and refocusing), especially if I've had a particularly challenging or busy lesson, and only have 3 minutes until the next class, breathing and counting mindfully can really help me to reset,” observed Starling Singer Kirsty, a secondary school teacher in GCSE and A-Level Finance, Business & Economics. “It’s also great to give students 2 minutes to clear their minds before a test/essay question and improves their focus.”
Most Starling Arts rehearsals begin with a mindful wind down, to help our singers become present in the room and take the rehearsal for themselves. Corvida member Gemma, who teaches secondary Religion, Ethics and Philosophy, acknowledged that choir has afforded her “the opportunity to forget about work and do something I enjoy”, something which allows her, and many others, the chance to be more present in both their work and choir life. “I sometimes sing as a behaviour management strategy to distract students. I also do karaoke with my form class and have sung in front of whole year groups as part of the ‘staff band’. This helps students to see teachers from a different perspective, and as humans, not just as subject specialists!”
The connective and transformative power of group singing strikes again!
“We have ‘Maths Meetings’, so to introduce a segment about money, the children sing Abba’s ‘Money Money Money’ chorus” says Laura, a primary school teacher and member of Forte. Whether themed to the subject matter or not, lots of our teachers recognised the value of music in learning. “I encourage the use of music when studying and revising as it can be a very powerful and effective way of reinforcing learning,” added Kirsty, who also observed how singing benefits her students’ public speaking. “I use warm up lip trills and tongue twisters with students before they do presentation tasks. This is particularly good if they can be nervous public speakers, as it’s usually so hilarious it puts them at ease before they start.”
With music increasingly being squeezed out of school budgets and curriculums, a lot of children today only benefit from the power of group singing, and its extended benefits, thanks to teachers (like those in our choirs) who understand the benefit and power of this most simple tool.
Imagine if all teachers could unlock potential in themselves and others because of singing? Singing improves our confidence, well-being, posture, mental and physical health, memory, community and team spirit, connection to others, focus and, above all, life enjoyment. Hannah hit the nail on the head concluding that, “above all, I know that after a really busy week, where I can be feeling tired and worn out, singing at Starling Arts allows me to take my mind completely off ‘everything else’ and I can just be totally absorbed in singing. This is definitely the same for children. Singing gives them a release time, where they can forget about their worries and have fun.” What more could you want for anyone?
Are you a teacher who uses singing in the classroom? Has singing in a choir helped you? Let us know your thoughts below!
A big thank you to all our teachers for taking time to give their feedback for this post and for being teaching superheroes!