I had an interesting chat with someone yesterday about whether it's fair to mark kids on their singing ability. It was in the context of year 1 report writing.
The arguments against it were:
1. Not everyone can sing, and
2. Kids might be too shy/nervous to sing in front of the class for assessment.
In my prep and year 1 classes, I keep a close check on who is singing in tune in group and solo situations. It is certainly part of my assessment of the kids because:
1. In tune singing is a learned skill. (I think this is what many people don't understand.) I'm teaching it in much the same way that classroom teachers teach kids maths. I start at the beginning and break it down. Certainly some kids are more natural than others, but all can (should!) learn. I will assess what I am teaching to monitor how well the kids are learning.
2. Kids have to stand up and speak in front of their classmates from the start for English assessment. If they get used to singing in front of others as well when they are little, it won't be such an issue later on. I want singing to be normal. This week I had 150 preps sing by themselves in front of their classes. Only 2 of them wanted to just sing softly into my ear. We shouldn't project our hangups onto kids. (I may have had stickers to use as added incentive!)
At this stage of the year, I'm basically dividing kids into 3 groups:
A = Child basically sings in tune
B = Child shows understanding of pitch differentiation (e.g. So is higher than Mi) but singing is not always in tune.
C = Child struggles to differentiate pitches a lot of the time (C- kids sing with a speaking voice)
Of the 120ish prep kids I listened to this week, I had 33 singing somewhere in category A, 54 in category B, and 35 in category C. I noted that 6 kids may have underachieved because of nerves.
Thoughts from parents, other music teachers...