Since it seems now required by etiquette or current fashion for all teachers to be accompanied by a hymn or anthem of some description, I thought it prudent (if not helpful) to create a playlist for all primary school teachers so that they would be able to teach all subjects with their accompanying theme tune.
Such tunes might come in useful during independent activities or even used as a musical fanfare during introductions as you rise up through the trapdoor in your 100-square carpet – as we are duty-bound to do so in my school.
So, without further ado, fellow #PrimaryRockers, let’s indulge ourselves in a little New Year aural delight by setting our subjects to song!
Musician, Please Take Heed by God Help The Girl
Yes, it’s confusing perhaps that this song immediately mentions ‘musicians’, but very quickly it mentions ‘sonnets’ and ‘writing letters’ and ‘books and lessons’ (well, staying away from them). It also goes to great pains to emphasize the benefits of being literate and choosing words with great care.
Put this song on during Big Writing and watch your students fly (metaphorically).
Take care to turn the song off before the final few lines, which point to some kind of drug tryst. That said, full marks to any students that successfully infer it.
Generate! Generate! by Johnny Marr
I chose this song because it mentions ‘calculate’ three times, which I would presume to be quite motivational for both student and teacher. It also includes elements of science, philosophy and, in parts, is unfortunately quite negative about maths.
Come to think of it, it is quite a confused song lyrically. That said, I wouldn’t anticipated many students paying much attention to its lyrics as they try to solve complex equations. More than likely they’ll ask you to turn it down.
As tempted as I was to choose She Blinded Me With Science by Thomas Dolby, it is an awful song: simply saying ‘science’ several times over ill-timed farts of funk synth is not sufficient I think to embody the breadth of a subject that seeks to encompass absolutely everything.
It also mentions love-making, which I think might compromise The Control and possibly knock over a bunsen burner. A far better choice would be Higgs Boson Blues by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. Lyrically, it does indeed encompass everything from Higgs Boson to Geneva, Hannah Montana, Lucifer and something called ‘hot cocks in the flop house’. All very scientific and correct. Can’t go wrong with it really, apart from the bits about genocide.
Art and Design
Now, if I’d chosen Pictures Of Matchstick Men by Status Quo, you would’ve thought worse both of me and of Status Quo. There’s a place of Status Quo, but not here (at least not yet).
Art is basically looking (or contemplating) – looking (or contemplating) really, really hard and then moving your appendages with various utensils dipped in pigments and then flailing around in the hopes that what you produce says something about the thing that you’ve contemplated (or looked at).
So, the song I’ve chosen is The Look by close-shaven, but sprouty-haired rockers, Roxette.
It’s a song in which “kissin’ is a colour” and it contains an enormous quantity of “na”. If that’s not art, I don’t know what is.
Business, Economics and Entrepreneurial Thingy
Ping Pong by Stereolab
I Predict A Riot by Kaiser Chiefs
OK, so computing is essentially about condensing procedure into ‘objects’. It’s about instructions, but it’s also about the future. Computing embodies the potential of technology in terms of its future promise. Therefore, we need an anthem that will encompass both ‘instructions’ or ‘procedures’ and future’s promise – or perhaps the means via which we might travel there. Oh, and it should also promote a sense of wonderment, if not downright awe.
“It’s astounding, time is fleeting: madness takes its toll…”
Yes, Little Nell, Patricia Quinn and Richard O’Brien, your greatest legacy is that you have bequeathed Time Warp to the UK Computing Curriculum!
“It’s just a jump to the left.”
Design and Technology
We Built This City by Starship
Replace the word ‘city’ with ‘spice rack’ and you’re away. The perfect soundtrack to a blizzard of flying balsa wood and severed fingers. 🎶”Who rides the wrecking ball into our guitars?”🎶
Where It’s At by Beck
Since, essentially, geography is all about where things are and how to shade them, what better song than Beck’s ambling math-hop classic Where It’s At? It begins immediately with the words ‘destination’ and ‘road’ and ‘habitation’ and something called a ‘get-fresh flow’ (which presumably is a technical term for a drumlin).
It even mentions ‘coast to coast’: could there be a more ideal soundtrack to the shading of coastlines?
The jazz outro is also pretty good for the production of map keys (but not particularly conducive to the drawing of contours).
History by The Verve (or The London Verve UK, as they are now contractually bound to be called); History Repeating by The Propellerheads with Shirley Bassey; the Big Bang Theory theme song (most likely written and performed by a Canadian band): there are a host of songs that attempt to hold within them the entirety of human history.
However, the song most likely to get across the big curricular idea that history is told by the winner, and that it’s crucial to check your sources, is Everything You Say Will Destroy You by Luke Haines’ The Auteurs.
For me, it sums up the idea that the truth, ultimately, will out. Hopefully, it will instil the same thirst for truth-seeking amongst your students.
Since the French are our nearest non-English speaking neighbours (not counting Geordies and the Cornish), my choice for the Languages curricular anthem is Desireless’s Voyage Voyage.
It’s probably about travel (I don’t speak French) and Desireless herself sports a marvelously foreign hairstyle which you could show on the whiteboard whilst playing the song and probably talk about in French if you speak French, which I don’t.
The curricular theme tune for Music really needs to be about music, about musicality. In that sense, it kind of needs to disappear up itself. This means that the curricular anthem (hymn, if you will) for Music must, by necessity, come from the genre of Progressive Rock, and it must seek to contain almost every possible human sound.
Easy listening, it is not, but my choice for the Music curricular anthem is…
Frank Zappa’s The Gumbo Variations.
It’s twelve minutes long (although strangely shorter on Youtube) and contains all possible sound. Something of an aural smorgasbord.
Music/sport crossovers are rarely successful. New Order’s World In Motion marks something of a high watermark in a well below par subgenre. Indeed, “express yourself – it’s one on one” seems to sum up most aspects of sport in a sheepskin-coated nutshell.
That said, sport is, from a curricular perspective, really about strategic movement, so my choice for the PE anthem is…
Babooshka by Kate Bush.
Thematically, she is testing her husband, effectively seeking to ‘catch him out’. Like a celebrity wrestler, she takes on a pseudonym. Also, like a Mexican wrestler, she wears quite a tight outfit (before changing into a more loose-fitting and possibly less practical Conan the Barbarian outfit replete with dangerously dangling jewellery). And finally, in the music video, she moves around in a highly strategic manner.
Hurt Feelings by Flight Of The Conchords
One to chew over, this, since it needs to embody universalism and a sense of gratitude for existence whilst also respecting individual tenets of faith.
So I chose Whatever You Want by Status Quo.
Yes, it’s most likely a neoliberal anthem to consumerism, but if you imagine the ‘you’ addressed as some omnipresent deity (and ignore the implication that the person addressed is being wooed), you have a perfect summary of the vagaries of worship.
Whether your deity is sentient or not, they’re bound to appreciate the thrumming simplicity of Status Quo’s three chord universalism. A fitting ode to whatever and a tribute to the late Rick Parfitt (rock rest his soul).
A final word
I hope that you enjoy this curricular soundtrack and that it breathes as much essence back into your teaching as it does mine. Have a really excellent 2017, be true to something and know that I care deeply for you.
All my love,
PS. Click here to get the full playlist on Spotify (with the unfortunate inclusion of Black Lace).