Why it’s no longer ‘cool’ to join the school choir

The Telegraph, 14.07.15, the death of the school choir has been bemoaned by the headmaster of Kate Middleton and Samantha Cameron's former school - HMC Member Jonathan Leigh Master of Marlborough College.

The death of the school choir has been bemoaned by the headmaster of Kate Middleton and Samantha Cameron's former school as he says teachers are too focused on the curriculum.

Jonathan Leigh, headmaster at Marlborough College, has also said the school choir is in decline because it is not seen as a “cool” thing to do by pupils.

His comments follow recent evidence that shows a dramatic decline of singing in primary schools as a result teachers dedicating their efforts to coming on top league tables and a diminishing number of teachers able to play a musical instrument.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Mr Leigh said it was a “desperate shame” that the “very deep British tradition” of joining a school choir was in decline.

Asked about the reasons why young people aren’t as keen on developing their musical talent, he said: “Classical music is not always deem to be a really cool attribute to have. There is that hurdle to be gone over.

He said teachers were also partly to blame because they are forced to focus on meeting performance targets to stay on top of league tables.

As with an Orchestra or any group musical enterprise, [singing] teaches profound listening and precise audio skills. It promotes memory and a consciousness of language. It creates a level of liturgical consciousness of poetry and literature.

Mr Leigh explained: “People are frightened of reaching the highest level of excellence because it takes immense concentration and it demands a lot of extra time.

“This isn’t a measurable part of the curriculum so people have to step outside the norm of all those quantifiable [measures] of which we are answerable and make sure that this happens to a very high level. Teachers are more pressured to meet these other targets."

Mr Leigh said schools should work hard to get young people excited about joining the school choir. He said: “[Schools] have to market the fact that this is a great attribute to have and that there is an advantage of being a great team player in a choir and this is an extra dimension to one’s whole education.

He said the benefits of singing in a choir go beyond just hitting the right note for children. Singing, which he describes as a “national heritage”, “is an art form of undefinable benefit, good for respiration and both physical and mental alertness, [and] a gradual builder of self -assurance."

Writing for the Daily Telegraph, he added: “As with an Orchestra or any group musical enterprise, [singing] teaches profound listening and precise audio skills. It promotes memory and a consciousness of language. It creates a level of liturgical consciousness of poetry and literature.”

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