These songs are great for Key Stage Three. There is something for everyone from vocal percussion, unison singing, 2–4-part rounds and 2-part harmony singing, we hope you enjoy!
Students start secondary school with varying experiences of singing at primary school, from hardly singing at all, to singing all the time. Singing as part of a group, class or choir is a great ice breaker, a way to bond and work as a team.
Britten-Pears Arts Community Ambassador Charlotte Brosnan has put together a playlist of her top 4 songs for KS3, available for free on our Songbank to get KS3 singing and break down those barriers. There is something for everyone from vocal percussion, unison singing, 2–4-part rounds and 2-part harmony singing, we hope you enjoy!
Rice and Beans – and Plantain Too! – Errollyn Wallen
Rice and Beans is a high energy song with many variations in its arrangement, it is so versatile and a great song to start with. Once your students learn this, you’ll hear it sung around the school corridors! The simple, catchy melody can be used on its own or put into a 2,3 or 4 part round. Interestingly, Errollyn wrote Rice and Beans – and Plantain Too! in the same form as Benjamin Britten’s Old Abram Brown. See if your students can identify the different sections and compare them with the original Britten piece (also available in the Songbank). Enjoy working on the funky syncopations towards the end.
Fire – 2 part – Russell Hepplewhite
Fire is from Russel Hepplewhite and Michael Rosen’s set of songs ’Everything’. This dramatic and catchy song is a crowd pleaser and it’s fun to put together. Divide your group in half to sing the two parts and you could create a challenge between them to see which group can sing it most mysteriously. You could also ask soloists or small groups to sing the call. There is lots of dynamic contrast which is fun to play with and it will definitely impress an audience!
Shadow Maker – Cecilia McDowall
Shadow Maker by Cecilia McDowall tells the story of a mysterious figure who creates shadows. Legato singing is required for most of this song, and it sits in a lovely range for KS3 voices. There is the option to sing the whole song in unison or 2 parts. I’d recommend everyone learns the main melody and once that is feeling secure, add some confident singers on the second part. Shadow Maker is a great song to practice storytelling, ask the students to bring the song alive by really thinking what the song is about.
Baiskeli – Gwyneth Herbert
Baiskeli is a fantastic piece for KS3, don’t be put off by how complicated it looks on the score, as it is quite repetitive. It is best approached in chunks and lends itself to being built up gradually over a series of sessions. Starting with the klikiti klakiti section, explore how vocal percussion can be used to represent different sounds – here it is used to imitate the spokes spinning on a bicycle. Vocal percussion is a great leveler and ideal for students who may feel unsure about singing. Enjoy experimenting with sound, rhythm and improvisation as well as learning the song.