In this review I am going to look at two resources for teaching primary school music. The first is an Irish-made one called Dabbledoo Music and the second one is a UK developed one called Charanga.
I signed up with both for a free month’s trial and Dabbledoo gave me further free access while I was completing this review.
Charanga is a UK based complete package for primary schools. It has a huge amount of resources to use. It breaks its website down into sections like schemes(guided week by week lessons), units of work( topics, productions, courses, creative apps), instruments( recorders, ukule, glockenspiel,strings,keyboards, fiddles-courses and books), Charanga Sing( thousands of songs with lyrics and much more to follow online) and SEND( special needs provision for music teaching)
It is impossible to go into every detail of Charanga. It is a complete music teaching package. The lessons are engaging and children enjoy them. Teachers can download really easy to use term plans as well as daily lesson plans to go along with each of the online lessons and activities. The online lessons are structured well and always start with a Listen and Appraise section followed by a musical element game that the children can make body percussion to respond to the song. The pacing of the lessons are good too and each one builds further on the lesson before.
I used the “Happy” by Pharell Williams lessons for my class and I found that the children who normally did not enjoy music really enjoyed themselves while helping me feel more confident as a music teacher.
Charanga has a huge selection of videos where an online teacher teaches your class to warm up their voice in a variety of ways. This also can help the less confident music teacher as you get to view good practice.
Charanga also has a great section on pantomimes and performances, perfect for winter/christmas plays. They tend to be religious based and the Christmas ones are all centered towards a christian point of view. However, I was able to use Diwali as a musical for integration into my ethics lessons so there really is plenty thematic content for everyone.
The one small issue I had was the same activities for teaching musical elements were very samey and it would be better if they were changed every week. Something for Charanaga to think about!
Dabbledoo’s strength is that it is completely and utterly dedicated to the Irish Music curriculum! It gives you beautifully, detailed long and short term plans for your music teaching. The activities online are engaging but as with Charanga the online activities can become a little bit repetitive.
I really liked the illustrations, the way Dabbledoo looked and the way it hit all elements of the music curriculum. The lessons were excellent but having said that I spent at least 45 minutes before each lesson reading over the script and actually doing the lesson. I have to plan and teach 11 curriculum subjects so this type of preparation would be unmanageable!
It is very difficult to compare like with like here! Charanga really is a pick up and go as the lessons are more or less click and they guide you and your class along. Dabbledoo, while the lessons are more tailored and pedagogically linked to the Irish classroom, requires a more substantial commitment to preparation. I think Dabbledoo could work on making the lessons more easy to run the whole class in the way Charanga do and Charanga could start to mix up the activities they have.
I would recommend signing up to a free trial of both and see what suits you best. I love them both for different reasons. I could not choose one!