Saturday, 24 December 2016
Chapter 7 “Singing”
The use of songs and singing can be of great benefit in a Modern Languages classroom. Apart from playing, translating and singing songs from French musicals (about which, more later), I was fond of inviting classes to chant grammar points to well-known tunes. The various versions of “some” in French (du, de la, de l’, des) go very well when repeated and sung to the tune of “The William Tell Overture”!
We even developed this to incorporate simple dance moves (all led by yours truly), and we had entire classes bouncing and chanting “du, de la, de l’, des”. At one point, we even had a dance-off between two classes which we filmed and replayed to the classes for maximum “fun”.
Another way of incorporating song in the classroom while helping to build a rapport with pupils was to sing “Happy Birthday” (or “Joyeux Anniversaire”) to those whose special day it was. This became something of a performance, sometimes climbing on the table in front of the pupil to cause the maximum impact and embarrassment, sometimes singing as a duo with the Doc (both of us trying to make the moment memorable rather than focusing on the niceties and finer points of actually singing well), and even occasionally as a trio with Arthur joining the duo, though I think Arthur found this somewhat awkward as he has a very good voice and couldn’t bring himself to do anything other than sing well.
Some of these “performances” were captured on video by numerous pupils who, despite being told that such recordings were officially illegal in school, would surreptitiously (they thought) return their phones to their bags upon completion of the celebration. Fortunately, I have never been privy to a viewing.
I should point out that I do not have a good voice. I have a powerful voice and this occasionally served to dupe some individuals into thinking I can sing, but I readily recognise the limits of my “vocal instrument”.
This was brought home to me particularly on the occasion I was invited (very early in my time at Invergordon) to join the choir for a rehearsal.
It did not go well.
My failed attempts to hold the notes merely attracted the attention of the other choir members and had the effect of distracting them from their own performance. This led to a choir-wide ticking off from choirmaster and music teacher extraordinaire, Ewan Stewart, who said nothing directly to me but neglected to invite me to further rehearsals. Ever.
Ewan retired many years ago, but if ever we bump in to one another he never fails to inquire about the continued quality of my singing voice. Clearly, an impression was made ……