I hear X-Factor is on the wane. Apparently fewer and fewer people are tuning in to watch each week and the conversations in the media and around the watercooler seem to be implying that the programme’s day in the sun (or should that be Sun?) are over. But is that really such a bad thing?
Working for Sing Up for over four years I have seen first hand the impact X-Factor, Britain’s Got Talent, Pop Idol and Fame Academy have had on children and young people. Whilst to some extent it has encouraged a culture of singing in schools, it has also had some rather negative effects.
Many schools – both primary and secondary – now have their own versions of X-Factor as an end of term event. Teachers see it as a chance to encourage pupils to perform to their peers and to learn the many skills being part of a show can teach. It brings the school together, is entertaining for the pupils and also provides an opportunity to get parents in for the performance. Young people can be heard for weeks before the performance practicing in corridors, the playground and on the school bus. Teachers scour the internet karaoke programmes for backing tracks – hoping that they will be in the right key for the young people’s voices and checking the lyrics for content. To give the event the real X-Factor feeling judges are found… a governor, the head, perhaps a local musician, all briefed to give only positive comments and ensure everyone gets to be a winner.
But, in reality for some teachers I have spoken to X-Factor has had a very different effect of pupils. They have become afraid to sing. They see the very good singers and the very bad singers in the opening episodes of the show and categorise themselves accordingly. Then having decided they are not a Susan Boyle or a Matt Cardle they assume they can’t sing and so don’t.
Singing should be a natural thing we all do. It has so many benefits – helping us to feel good (with scientific research to back that up), helping us to learn, bringing people together (it’s especially great for you when you sing in a group), and it breaks down barriers of age, race, nationality etc.
Now that X-Factor doesn’t have the…. er… x-factor, can we have singing back?