Read the Episode #72 - Together Sing

Introduction

Here is the Crescendo Music Education Podcast – Episode 72. Welcome to this episode of the Crescendo Music Education Podcast. Today, I am joined by my work bestie who you hear mentioned in almost every episode, Deb Brydon. We are going to talk only about Together Sing. It’s a really, really important part of my professional life at the moment, and Deb’s professional life. We spend a lot of time working on Together Sing and it is for you and for your children, that we do this.

About ‘Read the Episode’: Sometimes, we would rather skim visually than listen to a podcast! That’s a great way to learn too!
The transcript of episode 072 of The Crescendo Music Education Podcast is below.


Introducing Together Sing

Debbie
So Deb would you like to start and tell us what Together Sing is?


Deb Brydon
Well, if you haven’t heard about Together Sing where have you been? It’s time to get on board. Together Sing is, what’s our official line, a coordinated opportunity to sing together. But really, it’s a song. Together Sing is a song that is written specifically each year, last year was our inaugural year and this year is our second year and this song is written for you to sing in your classrooms with your children.

It’s also written for you to perhaps perform on an assembly, or just to sing on an assembly or to do whatever you want with, it’s really a package of materials. And we’ll talk a bit later about what’s in there, when you sign up. It’s free to sign up, it will always be free to sign up. And that’s basically what it is.

Oh, the other aspect of it is that it links in with in Queensland where we are with Queensland Mental Health Week, which is this year from the 7th to the 15th of October. But really, it’s just about singing and singing for your own mental well being. So you can do it whenever you like. In Australia Mental Health Month is the whole of October, in Queensland Mental Health Week is the 7th to 15th of October. Wherever you are, you can just sing for mental health whenever because that’s what singing is.


Debbie
Yes, it is all about all of those unique benefits of singing together for your well being. So when this was devised, created, which we’re going to tell you that story in a little while, it was trying to look at how we can promote singing together for our well being, as well as how important our music programs are. So there’s this undercurrent that sometimes more obvious than others.


Deb Brydon
It’s quite an invert undercurrent.


Debbie
An undercurrent, it’s an in your face Music Education is important, and everyone should have access to it. Now, having said that, you actually don’t even have to be at a school to do this. We’ve actually had lots of community choirs sign up, adult choirs.

It’s a great joining in sort of song, you can sign up, get the song, get the materials, don’t even perform it till next year, save it for a concert for next year. I do it always as a whole concert, sing along type thing. So all of my children know it at one of our choral concerts. And we have the YouTube clip up there and the audience joins in. So it’s great for adults to sing as well.

So it’s not just for children, depending on your students I even think that some high school secondary type students could sing it and certainly could learn to play it, that would give a little added level of difficulty. But it’s I guess, primarily based at primary age children up to about 13 years, but it’s a great song to sing.

We’ve already performed it with a choir. It’s on YouTube if you want to have a look, Rhonda Davidson-Irwin’s choir. Shout out to Rhonda, and Rhonda is the composer this year too. So she sang it with her community choir, her children’s choir and her adult choir. It was recorded. It’s now on YouTube on my YouTube channel.

And there was a 3 year old and a 93 year old in this group of singers. So there if that’s not proof, it’s not for all ages. So basically do this song. Wherever with whoever. We’re sending some messages here. Yeah, I want to get Deb to tell us about the origins of Together Sing. I’m asking her because when I tell it, it’s a bit too long.


How Together Sing Got Started

Deb Brydon
Well, Together Sing started out in Mackay in Central Queensland. Debbie and I were in Mackay which is a two hour plane flight from Brisbane where we live. And we were in Mackay for a seminar, a three day I think workshop, maybe three days, something like that. Ok we were up there two days, it was that one. Yes.

And we’re up there and we’ve been talking during the day with the participants at this workshop, about whole group singing and about singing at your school and ways to build a singing culture in your school using songs as a means to come together and to sing together. And whether you do that in your class or at an assembly, we were talking about lots of ideas, and people were coming up with ideas.

Music Count Us In was mentioned a few times, which was a program here in Australia that ran for a number of years where they would produce a song and send it out to people and people would all sing it at the same time on the same day. And it would be broadcast and things like that as well, people were sort of a bit sad that this program had ended because the government funding had ended.

We were talking about it that night in our hotel room, and it’s a bit dangerous to put Debbie and I in a hotel room together. Because we, look we brainstorm. And we don’t just go wouldn’t it be nice if. We go, Well, how can we actually make that happen? And we decided that actually we know enough people, we have enough networks to make this happen. So that’s how Together Sing started and we really decided right from the start, that this was always going to be free, no one was ever going to have to pay to be part of this. Because we know what school music budgets are like, and you have to make choices. And sometimes the choice might be don’t buy the song.

So we decided this will always be free. To make that happen, though, we of course need lots of people on board to help with it and so we set about getting some partners. Do you want to talk about that Debbie?


Debbie
Yes. Well, just to go back to what you were saying Deb. It’s really dangerous to let us brainstorm. Like I’m sure many people have said, in fact, people have said to me since here, yes I’d wondered about doing something like Music Count Us In. But the thing is, and I think this is what is the magic of intentional collaboration, working together. We don’t just think, wouldn’t it be nice, we just actually do it. And we support each other.

And the other thing is we’re at the parts of our careers, though I know I’m further along than you Deb. But we are at the parts of our careers where we’ve spent a lot of time in our own professional development, and working with others on their professional learning and we have networks. We know you know, I know a guy. Yeah. That reminds me, Deb, you’d like an ark built? I know a guy.


Deb Brydon
Yeah. Yeah. Okay, moving on.


Debbie
Moving on. So we really know people.


Deb Brydon
Yeah.


How Together Sing Was Formed From a Network

Debbie
And we went, we need somebody to play this for us. Oh, I know a guy, well actually a girl, Sarah. Hello, Sarah Whiting, Thank you! She played on the recording for both years now.

And between us and our networks, we have all these amazing people that believe in the power of music education, they might be doing it partly because of their relationship to us. But it’s not just that, it’s they believe in the value of music for children.


Deb Brydon
And I think we were able to just share our vision of what Together Sing could be. Last year, of course in the first year you do anything, we had no idea how it would go. And we started talking about this in September of 2021 and then we started working on it a little bit. Then you know, life gets busy as it does when you’re a teacher and doing lots of things.

And it came around to I think about March and we’re like we really have to get this sorted because October is not that far away. It came to a point where we thought, oh, have we actually left it too late? Do we leave it till next year? I thought no, let’s just do it. Even if 10 schools sing it this year. And we thought okay, we can count on this friend and this person we no and we listed off about 10 people yet we know they’ll definitely do it.

And when we applied for our grant, we’ll have to look it up. I think we said there might be 2000 people who sang it. I think that may have been the amount or maybe 3000.


Debbie
We must look that up.


Deb Brydon
Yeah, we must. It was very low compared to what it ended up being. But we sort of calculated okay, if we’ve got 10 people and they each have you know, and there might be 5000 people you know, and we thought our goodness, are we pushing it, we put in our grant. We were successful in the grant, it’s a Queensland Mental Health Week grant. And that money that we were successful in obtaining, then paid for the composer. The composer and the arranger are the only people in this project who are paid.

And the Kodály Queensland web developer because we’ve got to pay her for some hours to do that sort of side.

Everything else people have donated in kind, their time and their expertise, their amazing expertise.


Debbie
There’s like Dave, Dave Pawsey, shout out Dave.


Deb Brydon
Thanks Dave.


Debbie
He’s from Queensland Live Streaming and he’s videoed the events for us and spent hours filming and editing. And he’s done that, because he believes in the importance of music education. So it’s people like that, that do all of this work and work together and collaborate?

And do you know the other amazing thing about these collaborations is that I believe, maybe it’s naive, but I think that we are also breaking down some traditional barriers. So for example, Kodály Queensland is a partner, well the organizing partner so that if there’s money shortfall Kodály Queensland pays that money and the committee has committed to doing that if we don’t get other funding, but Orff.

And those of you who know that some people believe that Orff and Kodály cannot exist comfortably together. Look, no matter what your belief is. We all believe in music education. We’ve got ASME, the Australian Society for Music Education on board as a partner, we have the Conservatorium of Music. Now we’ve got all sorts of people signed up to be partners to do what they can for the event.

And to be a partner all you really need to do is to promote the event, get on share the social media posts, talk about how important singing together is, gee most of us would hop on board willingly with that sort of thing. But other partners of course, the Orff Association, QOSA, did arrangements for Bard instruments, they’re up there for you to download.

Swick, Tyler Swick, shout out to Tyler in America, he has done a Boomwhacker play along it’s on his YouTube channel. The song by the way, we haven’t said the name of the song, Fill the World with Song. So if you want to hop on to Tyler Swick’s channel, we’ll put the link in the show notes. But he’s done this Boomwhacker arrangement of Fill the World with Song.

So people are donating all sorts of things. So as you’re listening to this, you might think, Oh, I know a guy or you yourself. What can you offer? Crescendo has made the Sing Along YouTube clips and I do lots of the graphics and things. And in fact, I’ve got some new ones that have just gone out. So you give what you can, so think is there something that you could give to Together Sing?


Deb Brydon
We also have another partner who is a Deputy Principal at a school here in Brisbane, their school is bilingual, and they do Auslan as their other language, they have a lot of students who are hearing impaired at their school, and they’re a bilingual school. So she has done an Auslan interpretation of the song, and done a lovely video for us, but also a video explaining how to do the signs, which is fabulous. And the children really respond to that.

And isn’t it great to break it down further and widen our reach to some children who traditionally wouldn’t be singing a song with us, that we’re able to include that but also for kids who would be singing a song to have a wider understanding of the world and of people who do things differently to them.


Debbie
In fact, someone listening, maybe if you’re listening in America, you think that’s a good idea. Because Auslan is the sign language that hearing impaired people using Australia, whatever your American sign language is called someone might say, Hey, I could do that for our American audience. We would love that. Yeah, that’s the sort of thing, think outside the box. What sort of thing could you do for Together Sing.


Together Sing By the Numbers

Debbie
Of course, the first thing you have to do is sign up and register as many people as you can. My school I’m at a school of 600. So I sign up that all of my kids are singing it. Whether we all sing it in a performance or not, is actually a little irrelevant. They actually all are but whether they did or not I’m singing it with them all. So 600 is my number. Deb’s got a bigger one.


Deb Brydon
Yeah, we’ve got 900 at my school. So we’ve got 900 kids singing it. And right from the preppies, the five year olds, right up to the grade sixes are all enjoying the song. You know the preppies can’t sing all the words of the verses necessarily, but the chorus they’re in there and they’re loving it and part of each verse they sing, and it doesn’t matter because that’s what we do.

When we’re a community, we do what we can and I say to them, the big kids will do this bit don’t worry. And I say to the big kids, hey, this is the bit that the preppies won’t be able to do you really need to be great at this bit.


Debbie
And sometimes I say to the big kids, the preppies are singing it better than you.


Deb Brydon
I might have said that myself too.


Debbie
We thought that it would be really useful for you to hear a little bit about Together Sing. Oh, I know, before we leave it, we could talk about the other downloads that are in there.


Deb Brydon
Yes, there’s so many. So when you sign up, you get a link to an online file manager, SharePoint, and you can then download all of the resources. The resources that are there, really keep growing and adjust dependent on who our partners are and what they’re able to contribute.

So of course, there’s a score. There’s a vocal score, there’s a two part score, there’s a unison score, there’s a whole piano arrangement. Shout out to Will. Yes, Will, who is amazing, and takes a simple song, and just works his magic. We are so blessed to have him on board.

So there’s that what else? All the YouTube links, of course, so you can have a sing along video. You can have the sing along video with someone else singing or without someone else singing?


Debbie
Oh and again, shout out Penny Connolly-Coates who is the female voice and the lovely Jason Chapman, a year five boy who’s the other voice. So thanks to them. So that that’s their contribution, partnership.


Deb Brydon
There’s also a backing track. So you don’t have to have the video playing. There’s a separate audio file. And thanks to Andrew from Hazard Sound, who mastered all of that and did all his audio magic, and added extra instrumentation in as well for us.


Debbie
Yes and I think there might even be audio of just the piano and then one with the extra instrumentation. There’s there’s a lot in there. ASME Queensland did these fabulous social media posts with links, quotes and links to research about the benefits of singing, they’re amazing. There’s either 10 or 12.


Deb Brydon
There’s 10 I think.


Debbie
We use them in our school newsletters and put in the links if you want to read more go over here. They’re beautiful. And they’re well branded with our Together Sing branding.


Deb Brydon
Yes. So you can download those.


Debbie
Wendy’s articles.


Deb Brydon
There’s articles on on tips for singing with young children and with your older primary children.


Debbie
Creating choirs? Yes. So that’s Wendy Rolls, shout out to Wendy Rolls, she’s a partner. See all of these things that you could do. I hope the cogs are working in your heads at the moment.

And you’re thinking, how can I help Together Sing? And yes, you’re helping Deb and Debbie. But you’re actually helping so many people? Did we actually talk about numbers?


Deb Brydon
I don’t think we have.


Debbie
I want to talk about numbers. Last year, our inaugural year.


Deb Brydon
When we thought we might have five thousand.


Debbie
Yeah, do you remember our committee chat on Messenger? We were saying Oh, we’ve just released it. How many will we get? And someone said we might get 5? We might get 10. I jumped in and we’ll get 100.


Deb Brydon
100,000 that is and we all went? Maybe Debbie.


Debbie
We ended up with 150,000 singers.


Deb Brydon
In every state of Australia and overseas.


Debbie
Yes state and territory because lets not forget our territories. Every single state and territory and overseas. Anyone can do it. It doesn’t matter where you live, particularly if you want to sing in English.


Deb Brydon
Yeah or someone can translate it, beautiful. Some of those people registered for just 20 people just for their maybe they were just doing it with a small choir. And some people like my school registered for 900. So quite a variety.

And some people there were even a couple of registrations just for five people or for three people or something. If you want to just sing it in your lounge room. Go ahead and register. That’s fine.


Debbie
We actually have some registrations for one. Yes. Someone who is not teaching and not doing any singing with anyone else.


Deb Brydon
Just wanted to check it out.


Debbie
Wanted the resources and maybe some of our partners even just registered for one, so that they could download and understand the resources.


Deb Brydon
Don’t hold back on those numbers.


Where Together Sing Is At in 2023

Debbie
At the time of recording this podcast, sadface, we’re only at, we’d probably be just over 80,000. I guess we should say we’re recording in September, September 17.


Deb Brydon
So we’re a month out.


Debbie
Yeah, that’s a lot to get for a month.


Deb Brydon
So sign up if you haven’t signed up, just do it straightaway.


Debbie
Just do it, do it. So there’s two calls to action for you, right? Are you ready everyone, as soon as you get off this SIGN UP, we will put in very big letters in the show notes, we’ll put the link, just get in and sign up, fill in the form, you’re done, you can download everything. And remember, sign up with as big a number as you can.

We don’t want you to lie. No, we would like you to go max rather than mean, you know. Okay, so sign up. And also think, could I personally contribute? Could my professional association contribute? But you know what I really want to happen Deb and I know you do, too.

We would just love a band association to go. We could do a band arrangement for primary school band. Stringies to go let’s do a string ensemble arrangement. We don’t have those the time or the skills? I could do it. But it would suck.


Deb Brydon
And really the time?


Debbie
Oh there’s the time too. So think about is there something you could contribute or that your associations or networks could contribute? Even just sharing the posts from our Facebook page. And I must say I post things through LinkedIn and stuff as well. So share posts, and promote.


Deb Brydon
I think the other thing is, if you sign up once you’ve signed up, get someone else to sign up to send an email to someone that you know that’s teaching down the road or across the other side of the world.

You can say, hey, here’s a great resource, sign up for it, it’s free, and then tell them to tell someone else. Let’s get the word out.


Debbie
Yes. Which is literally how we got 150,000 last year, we didn’t do any advertising.

There’s no advertising budget over here.

No budget at all. However, if someone wished to contribute to advertising. I think that the whole essence of this it’s a ground, a grassroots, groundswell movement saying music is important. Yeah.


Ways to Use Together Sing

Deb Brydon
And really look in my school, we sang it on an assembly, and this was in Queensland Mental Health Week. But we also talked about mental health that week, and the teachers, some of the teachers talked about it in their classrooms leading up to it.

This is not something that we’ve talked about at our school in the past, but just to have that little focus on that for one week in our assembly, and to talk about a few things and then to sing together for our mental health. And just because we love it, was really great. Then to also have those advocacy moments when a school all sings together, that is amazing advocacy for your classroom music program.

And then like Debbie, I then redid it at a concert, at our choral gala concert at the end of the year where our three choirs performed and got all the parents to join in as well. I plan on doing that again this year. Why not? I should add them into the numbers as well.


Debbie
The audience.


Deb Brydon
If the audience sing. I’m going to register a second time and put them in.


Debbie
I never thought of that. I should do too, the audience sang it last year. Okay, so I hope you’re going to help us. I hope you will take this call to action register, sing, enjoy, and be part of the Together Sing movement. And to finish off I want to say thanks Deb for joining me today.


Deb Brydon
Thanks for having me.


Debbie
Till next time.


Sign-Off

I appreciate you and all of my colleagues, and hope this episode has been enjoyable and useful. Don’t forget you’ll find the show notes on crescendo.com.au. I’d love to share rate or review to help other music educators find this podcast. All I can be is the best version of me. All you can do is be the best you. Until next time, bye.


Just for Laughs

As we know laughter relieves stress. Don’t lose sight of the funny side of life.

The future, the present and the past, walked into a bar.

Things got a little tense.


Links Mentioned in the Episode:

Fill the World with Song Performance

Tyler Swick Boomwhacker Play-Along: Together Sing 2023

Sign up for Together Sing TODAY!

Where to find me:

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