In Tune with Talent; EDUCATION NOTEBOOK

Article excerpt

Byline: SUSAN ELKIN

THE AIM of the primary school is to build the foundations for the complete personality.

There is no complete person without music.' Hungarian composer and music educator Zoltan Kodaly (1882-1967) wrote that, and since the beginning of this term his words have been reverberating musically in three schools in the London Bridge area of the

Borough of Southwark.

In collaboration with the Southwark Festival, which is running in the south-east of the capital, Ilderton Junior, Alma Primary and Surrey Square Junior schools have all signed up to a one-year music teaching and learning programme with The Voices Foundation.

Using a vast repertoire of songs from all over the world, non-specialist teachers in the Southwark schools, as well as in more than 80 schools elsewhere in Britain, are being trained by The Voices Foundation to use music with confidence as part of their daily routine.

If you walk past, you might be taken aback to hear a class register being sung rather than called.

Pupils and teachers might be chatting or greeting each other in song.

Perhaps they'll be singing their times tables.

Children are taught to read music by a series of hand signals base on tonic solfa. Teachers learn to teach children how to use rhythm, pitch and dynamics. The concept of 'tone-deafness' is dismissed as a myth.

'We have been looking for new ways to make music and culture an integral part of the community,

said Michele McLusky, director of Southwark Festival. 'The Voices Foundation project is just a start and what better place to begin than in our junior schools?' The Voices Foundation uses music experts to train teachers. It sends trainers to support teachers in their classrooms and runs workshops and classes for children. It costs less than [pounds sterling]20 per child to set up a Voices Foundation project in a primary school for one year.

WE ALL have a singing voice and we sing in infancy before we speak. The voice is the prime medium for early music education,' explains Susan Digby, founder and principal of The Voices Foundation, who has based her method on what she learned on a Churchill Fellowship in 1991 to study with Peter Erdei at the Kodaly Institute in Kecskemet, Hungary. …