One of my primary school memories is radio broadcasts… making sure the radio worked and we were ready at the appropriate time… music broadcasts – ‘Time and Tune’, Rhythm and Melody, ‘Singing Together’…
Each term there was a new booklet of that term’s songs. We were only allowed ‘one between two’ but with most lessons written on the blackboard, and the occasional very worn textbook, a new booklet each term was a treat.
In my lifetime, school music has changed, It was a necessity; now at best it’s a luxury, at worst an irrelevance. Singing in school assembly, class music-making, visiting instrumental teachers, school choirs and orchestras have disappeared for most children.
Singing fashions have changed. ‘Community singing’ features no longer. Traditional songs, folk songs, war songs, favourite hymns ‘that we all know’ are a thing of the past.
Singing is maintained by the music industry; local boy Ed Sheeran and TV shows like the X-factor or The Voice make money. But it’s not singing together… unless you appreciate Gareth Malone (see below)…
Dementia experts have recognised that when other memories have disappeared the musical memories continue. Songs learnt ‘singing together’ are still there in the mind when much else appears to have been lost.
Musing on Woodbine Willie… Jonathan Brant writes: ‘He loved the bawdy songs and bustle of the public houses, the earthy humour and the rough comradeship of the soldiers. He frequently contributed to the commotion and the laughter with his own singing and joke telling.’
In lockdown I’ve missed ‘singing together’… at Carrow Road with Norwich City fans… at church with Jesus fans… expressing with others:
- Commonality: We all do it together
- Community: It unites us
- Commitment: To common beliefs and feelings.
I look forward to rediscovering ‘singing together’. This timeless tradition, of God-followers in the Bible and the Christian church, supports my spiritual and emotional health and is a vital expression of my faith.