Primary School Harvest Festival this morning (not a church school). I thought, my goodness me, the children sing well. Suddenly, the volume faded. It rose again. It faded. It rose. Then I saw a teacher fiddling with knobs on the machine. It was all recorded. When the volume was down it was clear that they were not singing at all. Grunting. Is this deception common? If so, what does it say about the state of music and of singing in state primary schools? I made the same mistake with the congregational singing at Holy Trinity, The Rock in my Irish incumbency. I told them I thought they were fantastic singers, and they fell about.
‘When aa were a lad’ it was Singing Together or Rhythm and Melody on (I think) Monday mornings, led by William Appleby of the BBC. Our ears were glued to the crackly wireless. The Harp that once through Tara’s Halls sticks in the memory not because of tune or words, but because of the picture of the fairy tale castle in the accompanying booklet.
At today’s Harvest the children from urban Burton sang a song about what jolly good fun it is be to be a farmer, and how they’d all love to be one, working outdoors with animals and tractors and all the jolly-what-ho of Farmer Giles. I thought of the VAT returns and the quotas and having ones hand up a cow’s vagina and the environmental inspections and the risks of methane from slurry tanks. And the loneliness.