I have had a few requests for a lesson Observation idea for Key Stage 3 that could potentially be used for an interview. Now what you want is the lesson to be engaging, with no setup, no worksheets and no faffing about with any technology. So all you need for this is your voice. The thing is, singing is a crucial skill and too often students don’t really think about warming up, posture and breathing. Also we can easily fall into the trap of just singing for the sake of it and not looking at part singing or how to correctly sing phrases. This lesson is just a starting point for singing I guess and from here you would need to build up a pattern of warmups and games at the start of the lesson before embarking on singing a song or piece. I have created simple layered vocal rounds in the past or just used scales and the alphabet to get them singing in parts.
Start off with some kind of physical warmup – nothing silly, but just some movement
Then move on to breathing – remember that there is merit in teaching good breathing and posture for singing, so mention this to the students.
Now get them singing. I always ask if it is anyones birthday – if it is then great, or find whoever as the next birthday – then sing happy birthday. Why, well because they will all know it. God save the Queen is risky as most don’t actually know the lyrics and Happy Birthday at least has that octave in the middle as a point of interest
Now move on to scales – First five notes of the Major Scale, start with a LA and then move on to singing numbers. Then progress to the whole scale up to number 8.
Now make it more interesting and use the alphabet, but start on say letter D rather than A – DEFGABCDCBAGFED – you get what i mean. Major scale using the alphabet.
Now swap a letter for a noise – a silly noise is fine! But just make sure they stay controlled.
Now switch to minor and maybe add some clapping and movement and then could sing four notes for each letter going up and down the scale. Start to get some movement in there. Talk to them about posture and challenge them to project but more shout.
Once they are warmed up and engaged teach them, if they don’t already know, Oh When the saints – Really simple.
Now teach them, but they should know it, Swing Low Sweet Chariot.
Now split them into two groups and get them singing at the same time. This will bring you up to about 30 minutes or more and you can discuss that you have worked them through physically being ready to sing, to warmups to singing to part singing.
This kind of lesson is fairly obvious and easy to adapt and work with – lots of people will have lots of ideas. But if you are looking for an engaging lesson then work through something along these lines and make sure you work up to a song that is going to get them singing in groups or in parts as that will be nice and rewarding. The physical warm-ups and games are not just there for fun but they are actually part of being a singer. Plus engaging students is important. So set them challenges throughout the lesson and split into groups.
Hope this might help someone out there. I love singing in lessons and so do the students! Being observed is tough at times, but the key thing is to be mentally prepared, relax and enjoy singing with the students. If you don’t like singing then the key thing to do is not show that to the class but just go for it and puts loads of enthusiasm into the lesson. If you want to develop this lesson further than you can easily add chords but splitting them into groups and getting them each singing different notes. I do find that classes start to struggle with this and so it is better to create a melody out of the notes then when layered together will form a chord.
Anyway, for now there are some quick thoughts!