When leading singing it is important that the room layout supports the confidence of students. This relies on the teacher knowing how confident they are to hear their own voices and also the purpose of the singing. For example, if they are singing as they move around the classroom tidying up, singing along to a CD, they are probably happy to be in their own space and not particularly focussing on their voice or anyone else’s. If they are learning a song or performing together, it is advisable to move the chairs and tables out of the way and have them standing or sitting as groups and roughly in rows or horseshoes so that their voices blend together. In this way, they will feel supported by hearing others singing the same part as them and this will help them not to feel self-conscious. When singing in part or harmonies, it helps if the group singing the same part is standing together, and creating a physical gap in between groups can also help. Having space in the room means that they can also wander round and sing their melody or try out ideas, losing themselves in their own space. At other times you might want to warm up or sing in a circle – some children like this and others don’t, so using a variety of ways to encourage everyone is important.
Singing informally as part of the routine of the day (for example, singing at the end of the day) or singing as part of another curriculum lesson where the quality of the singing is not the primary concern (for example, singing the times-tables or learning the parts of the water cycle) are OK in their ordinary seats behind tables. However, moving chairs and tables out of the way to create a proper space in which to sing together is really important.