10 Songs from My Music Career

By which I mean my career (so far) defined by music obviously.

10. Hello – Lionel Richie

I took my kids to a city farm earlier this year, and one of the kids in my group went missing. Cue an immediate panic. I look around and the boy is squatting next to the goat enclosure. I walked up to him to ask him to keep up, and heard he was singing “Hello, is it me you’re looking for?” to the goat. Glorious moment – as long as something like this happens maybe twice a year, I can carry on teaching.

9. Dizzee Rascal – Sirens

In the Summer of 2011 I trained to be a teacher and was left in the less than brilliant situation of having just under two weeks until school started and nowhere to live. I was probably one of a very small number of people who chose the day of the London Riots to go house hunting in East London. As we moved around Hackney and Tower Hamlets, visiting flats and estate agents, the sirens were ringing out. We found a house on Buckfast Street, and put down a deposit and as we left the house, the police cordoned off all of Bethnal Green Road, including our street. It felt like a mistake. We went to Brick Lane to celebrate the house situation, and then the Bangladeshi shop owners all had to take to the street to defend their businesses against the rioters (and did so successfully). This was a completely unrepresentative picture of life in the East End, but at the time, it felt not unlike the video below, and I felt like I was moving into an edgy war zone.

8.Emeli Sande – Crazy in Love

When I am at school, I find myself unable to do all the admin work. My brain can’t focus that way, and instead, despite it ruining my work life balance, I always found it easier to do all the marking etc at home and at the weekend. So long as I was happy at school itself, I could get by. As such, mornings before school were to be spent doing flamboyant jazz dance with my friend Ellie last year, and the Electroswing version of Crazy in Love was perfect. The kids would walk in initially confused, and would then join in. An energetic start to the day.

7.Anywhere in the World – Mark Ronson and Katy B

My first year teaching was 2011-12, and this meant that my summer term was the London Olympics. For one thing, it meant we got an extra week of holiday, but it also meant that our school was hit by Olympic fever and we got free tickets to take the kids. This annoying crap song was an official Olympic song, and we had it blasting out for the final term of 11-12. I used it in a video yearbook for my first class, and it just brings that merry training year back to me.

6. One Pound Fish Song

Whilst the One Pound Fish man has long since faded into obscurity, for me and I suspect for our local school community, he is still there, as fresh as his fish. The ‘One Pound Fish’ man is essentially a fishmonger in Queens Market, around the corner from where I work, and he became viral famous after being filmed with the One Pound Fish song he invented to sell his fish. A short X factor stint and one song followed, but he remains a local favourite.

5. Something Inside So Strong – Labi Siffre

Already one of my own favourite songs, we used this as part of our work in Black History Month, looking at the idea of resistance, strength and self-belief. Music gets me sentimental at the best of times, but when I’ve got a room of Year 4 kids singing this, I am emotionally destroyed. They love it – they hear the opening notes and literally cheer.

4. The Power of Yet – Janelle Monae

Super twee – the Power of Yet is a less than helpful oversimplification of the idea of growth mindset but as a reminder to the kids not to give up, it is super cute. The song is infectious as anything and Sesame Street is just great.

3. The Passenger – Iggy Pop

An odd choice I know. In my training year, as trainees often do, I had a weird idea. I decided I wanted a class song that we could bond over. It was decided that this would be it, so we spent ages trying to come up with an Acapella backing to it. It reminds me of when everything was fresh, new and exciting.

2. Listen – Beyonce

Oh my, this song. It has become a self-perpetuating meme that I am obsessed with this song, and I really do like it, but on multiple occasions I have belted this song out at school. I have been lip-syncing long before it became fashionable, and this is the ultimate song for it. At the camping trip last year, I jumped out of a bush with a Prince Phillip mask on and lip-synched this at the Camp Fire (terrifying). On a holiday with Ellie, we lip-synched it on the cliffs overlooking the Parthenon in Athens. Long after the memories of my current school have faded, this will remain.

1. Candy – Cameo

Well. This song, and the accompanying Candy Dance, simply are Elmhurst Primary School. Every Christmas party, every birthday party and every staff gathering, everybody knows this will happen. Despite it being an absolute cheese fest, and with its heavy allusions to illicit behaviours, it is as much a part of our school as the bricks and mortar. It especially brings up Abi, one of our longest serving members of staff, who always leads the dance and will next year be leading it in another school.


One thought on “10 Songs from My Music Career

  1. Love it! Number 10 is my favourite though – totally know what you mean about one or two of those stories a year keeping you in teaching!

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