Singing in Schools

The way you can measure a society’s soul is by the way that it treats its children.
Nelson Mandela

Issue No. 55 – 2nd April 2008

Welcome to Kidz Newz especially to all new subscribers, including Curtin University students from my workshop this week.  Kidz Newz is a regular newsletter with information and teaching tips for anyone involved with young children.  You are receiving this because you have attended one of my workshops, purchased a book, or you have requested to be on the mailing list.  Thank you.  Please forward this to anyone you feel it may be of interest to.

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Singing in Schools

Last Friday night on ABC TV’s Stateline program, there was a segment featuring a lady by the name of Rosalyn Happs, a music specialist trying to introduce the ‘novel’ notion of singing in schools. In case you weren’t aware, the overwhelming majority of teachers do not do any form of music tuition in their classrooms any longer. The reason? There’s a music specialist in the school. When they move to a new school with no music specialist they are so unused to programming in music that it never happens. This is tragic. It was wonderful to hear about Ros Happs’ program and realise mine is not the only voice out there in the wilderness urging teachers to teach music in their classrooms, in whatever form that may take. Anne Trigg, local ASME committee member, sent the following quote from Ros Happs, which I reproduce here:

‘My passion is to bring classroom singing back into schools.  I have been ‘on about this’ since the 80’s when music specialists first came on the scene.  I am ‘so old’ that I taught music before such things existed in primary schools! 

Hence, I have developed the programme called ‘Voice, Body and Mind Gymnastics’ which I have been piloting in these small schools (in the Margaret River region) with excellent results.  To me the results are excellent because the teachers are singing in their classrooms and they are building up their confidence that this is possible and fun even though they themselves are not proficient singers.  After doing the concert at Cowaramup, I decided to contact the ABC to see if they were interested and they decided to do the story for Stateline.  

I have been reading with interest of the development of the ‘Sing Up’ programme in the UK where the government is throwing a heap of money into music programmes for the same purpose as above.  This has inspired me to take this programme and ‘put it out there’ to see if others are interested so that more pilot schemes can begin until we finally convince the government to put money into it.

The programme is designed to work either on its own in schools where there are no permanent music specialists, or work together with the specialists.  What wonderful work specialists could do if all children came to their classes being able to sing in tune!’

Sing in tune indeed! The music specialist puts the icing on the cake. The teachers need to make the cake. Don’t leave everything to the specialist. With enough practice singing along with a CD, anyone can start to sing on pitch and do a pretty good job of it. In any event, the children won’t be critical. To start the day with a song ‘ even singing ‘good morning everyone’ instead of saying it ‘ is a beautiful way to start the day, and it helps to ‘switch on’ the brain. It’s a lovely way to end the day too. It doesn’t matter what form of musical instruction you give your children, do not rob them of their right to have music throughout their days at school. Many children do not come from musical homes.

I don’t hold out much hope of getting funding for this from governments or anywhere else, whether for Ros’ program or anyone else’s. That’s why I keep on urging teachers to ‘have a go’ and sing, or use music to teach drama or phys. ed. or numeracy and so on throughout the curriculum. This is the purpose of Kidz-Fiz-Biz ‘ to give teachers (and parents) access to a music program that anyone can have success with, even those with no music background and who profess to not be able to sing.

I applaud Ros Happs for developing her programme and for having the foresight to contact the media to bring this alarming trend to the attention of the public, and I thank Anne Trigg for letting me know this segment was going to air last week.

Quotes of the Week

The future will be better tomorrow. Dan Quayle

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.  John Quincy Adams

‘Passion 101.’ That’s what actress Edie Falco says her high school music class should have been called. ‘My teacher, Sandy Valerio, taught me to understand that whether I’m singing or acting, I’m using an instrument. And the instrument is me.’


I was teaching a second-grade class in career education and had the students drawing pictures of themselves as adults. I wrote ‘When I grow up, I want to be ” on the board and asked the students to come to me for any other spelling they needed as they completed their pictures.  Caitlin came up to me and asked how to spell ‘princess’. After a number of other students asked for help, Caitlin was back for ‘whales’. Since I had told the students they could draw any number of future jobs, I suspected nothing. That is, until Caitlin appeared with her elaborate drawing of a young lady in a long gown and crown on a bluff by the ocean directing whales to do her bidding. It was labelled, ‘When I grow up, I want to be the Princess of Whales.’

Barb Baeckert on


Hi Marlene,

I am sitting here being inspired by your ebook. I am embarking on trying to get some of my creations published and feel as though I am hitting brick wall after brick wall. But I go back to your ebook and it reminds me that I care deeply about what I am doing and it will all be worth it. So thank you ‘ I have been teaching music lessons at a local preschool for the last two years and have had so many requests for my material to be available in book form and on CD’

You have already helped so much through your ebook and the warmth and sincerity that flows through it – Thank You!

Kindest regards,

Belinda Niemeyer  

About The Author

Marlene Rattigan B.A., Dip. Ed. (ECS), CELTA

Marlene Rattigan is an Early Childhood teacher, a teacher of English as a Second Language, and from 1987-2000 was a nationally accredited fitness leader. Her background is in music education. A keen interest in motor development in children led to the creation of Kidz-Fiz-Biz which she taught successfully for 13 years. Marlene also conducts workshops for children, teachers and parents at schools, in the community and at festivals. She has produced teaching manuals complete with audio CDs which are an extension of her ‘Kidz-Fiz-Biz’ program.

PO Box 6894, East Perth WA 6892, Australia
T: +61 8 9325 1204 M: +61 (0) 410 64 2781 E:

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Marlene Rattigan, Editor
Kidz Newz

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