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A couple of weeks ago, our school had our first assembly. Each 7-day cycle, our school holds an all-school assembly where we gather as a community to watch a variety of performances/speakers/etc. I like to run the first assembly and make it an all-school sing-along. Since the students in grades 6-8 are away on adventure trips, the sing-along includes students in grades K-5. It is a lively assembly, one that the students look forward to and will actually find me during the week before the assembly to give me requests for songs to sing.
Every year, I ask my good friend Tim to accompany me on drums. This adds a lot to the sing-along. If he is not there, then it is just me doing my best Billy Joel routine of singing and performing from a Steinway. Tim arrives an hour before the assembly and we run through the songs. We vary the arrangements and keys to fit the voices of our audience. I pick songs that they know like traditional and folk songs, but I also include some pop songs and some literature we sang last year at our concerts. The students love revisiting last year’s music because they feel like they are the leaders and lead everyone in singing the song. I try not to lead the songs if possible. The best part is when I drop out from singing and just play the piano while listening to 200+ students sing their hearts out.
And there is the magical moment. When I look around the room and see every student in grades K-5 singing with the biggest smiles on their faces, I realize that this is a great first assembly. It truly does build our school’s community. I also make a keynote (powerpoint, prezi, etc would work well too) presentation to present the lyrics onto the screen. I include a lot of pictures as many of the kindergartners cannot read yet, but enjoy watching the pictures on screen. The songs vary in tempos from slow and sweet to shaking their “bluesy” eggs to rockin’ out and dancing from their seats.
If you get a chance to host a school sing-along, I would highly recommend it. Another possibility is to invite parents and hold a family sing-along. I feel that it is also another positive way to showcase music in your school.
Our song list included:
1. Grand old Flag by George M. Cohan
2. This Land is Your Land by Woody Guthrie
3. You are My Sunshine
5. Let’s go see our grandparents (same tune as take me out to the ballgame)
6. 50 Nifty by Ray Charles
8. Shake egg song by Laurie Berkner
9. Tomorrow from Annie – music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin
10. Let’s go fly a kite from Mary Poppins composed by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman
11. Itsy bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini from Frog and Toad Play by Brian Hyland
12. My Favorite Things from The Sound of Music by Rodgers and Hammerstein
13. Do a Deer from The Sound of Music by Rodgers and Hammerstein
14. Lean on me by Bill Withers
15. Put a little love in your heart by Jackie DeShannon
16. Under the Sea from The Little Mermaid by Alan Menken with lyrics by Howard Ashman
17. Home by Phillip Phillips
18. Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield
19. Firework by Katy Perry
20. We are the Young by Donnely/Strid
Amy M. Burns is an elementary music educator, clinician, author, and musician. She currently works at Far Hills Country Day School in Far Hills, NJ teaching PreK through Grade 3 general music, grade 5 instrumental music, and grades 4-8 instrumental band. She is the author of Technology Integration in the Elementary Music Classroom, Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with a SMART Board, and Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with One or more iPads! She is also an author for Online Learning Exchange™ Interactive Music powered by Silver Burdett. She has given numerous presentations on integrating technology into the elementary music classroom as well as being a keynote speaker for music technology conferences in Texas, Indiana, St. Maarten, and Australia. She is the recipient of the 2005 TI:ME Teacher of the Year Award, the 2016 NJ Master Music Teacher Award, the 2016 NJ Governor’s Leader in Arts Education Award, and the 2017 Non-Public School Teacher of the Year Award. You can find out more about Amy at her website: amymburns.com