3x table song – Threes Are The Champions

Here are the lyrics for our version of We are the champions.

3x lyrics

We haven’t yet got around to recording this with the band.  It’s a very challenging song to play, and we ran out of time to rehearse it before the last recording session.  It’s still in the pipeline and we hope to record it next school year.

Here is the rehearsal file for the song, exported from Sibelius.

3x Champions (Dm) – rehearsal file

This was one for the teachers and parents!  It never quite captured the children’s imagination.  Maybe if we had done this as the first song then they would have got into it more, but they’ve been spoilt by doing loads of current songs that they know really well, so it was a hard sell.

11 times table song – Roar

Here are the lyrics for Roar.  This was written by some of year 6 at St Michaels C of E junior school in Twerton, Bath.  A few of the lines were edited and improved by the whole school in an assembly.  This was another song where I had very little to do with the output.

11x Roar – lyrics

Here is the final version of the song.  As with the 2x table song, this features years 3, 4 and 6 from St Michaels and the Kings Oak year 12 band

Roar (11x table)

Here is the rehearsal file for the song, exported from Sibelius.

Roar (Bb)

2 times table song – I Knew You Could Double

Here are the lyrics for I Knew You Could Double, our version of the Taylor Swift classic

2x lyrics

Here is the final version of the song, featuring years 3, 4 and 6 from St Michaels C of E Junior school in Twerton, Bath.  The band is the same group of year 12 musicians from Kings Oak, who had worked with Summerhill on the other songs on this site

I knew you could double

Here is the rehearsal file for the song, exported from Sibelius.

I knew you could double (F#)

The vocals are really fast all the way through.  This is fine in verse 1, when the children are simply singing the times tables.  But I got a bit ambitious in verse 2 and tried to get them to sing about doubling higher numbers (2 x 16 = 32).  You’ll be able to hear yourself – this doesn’t really work.  The children stumble over a lot of the words.

In hindsight I would either have spent some time working with the teachers to embed this into the relevant lessons on doubling, and using the opportunity to rehearse the song harder, or I would have just got the children to sing verse 1 twice.

Of course it’s your call how you choose to do this!  If you try any other ideas please blog back and let us know about it.

4 times table challenge

The bridge of the 4 times table song (What does the four say) sets the children a challenge.  The lyrics are:


The secret of the fours

Is when you look at the units

They go 4-8-2-6-0

As far as you can go

You can do the same

With some other times tables

Which ones can you find?


I have just set this as an “optional” challenge (with bonus league table points for the best investigations) to an entire junior school, from year 3 to year 6.  Attached is the printout that I gave the children, with various differentiated suggestions for challenges, although I’m happy for them to ignore my ideas and take it any way they like.


Within minutes, some of the year 6’s were coming up with their own investigations.  One girl commented to me that if you look at 4-8-2-6-0 backwards it reads 6-2-8-4-0, which is the pattern of units in the 6 times table.  I asked her to investigate why that is the case, and to see if she can find other pairs of times tables where the same thing happens.  Another boy started talking about how with the 9 times table the tens go up and the units go down.  I asked him to investigate why, and to try out other times tables to see what the pattern is there.  I’m hoping both will notice the role played by number bonds, without too much prompting from me.

I will blog again with the results of their investigations.

Hints and tips – How to run a music collaboration with a secondary school

The musical times tables project works brilliantly as a standalone project in a single school.  The children enjoy singing songs that they know, it is effective in helping them (and the teachers!) learn their times tables, and they love writing their own songs to be performed by the school.  But collaborating with a secondary school really steps it up a notch!

What the secondary school get from it:

  • Kudos and great PR
  • A motivating project for A-level music students…
  • …Which could contribute towards two separate modules (Performance and Music in the community)
  • Enjoyment for all involved (including the leadership of the school and the federation, who came to watch part of the event and loved it!)

What the secondary school need to provide:

  • Band
  • Venue and technical support for recording
  • Some time after recording for mastering/post-production (for our 6 songs this took one afternoon of an engineer’s time)
  • Time and support for the band to practise the songs (I spent 6 hours outside my usual job role attending their music lessons to provide instruction – this could have been done by a Secondary school teacher)

Here’s the process I followed (in addition to the weekly assemblies with the year 5/6 children):

  • Early Feb – emailed the Director of Music with the idea of the project.  It took very little to persuade him!
  • Throughout Feb – created the musical arrangements in Sibelius (music software), which exports pdf music and sound files for the full arrangement and for each individual part
  • Throughout Feb – Director of Music put together a band of year 12 students
  • Late Feb/early March – started meeting some of the students (the Director of Music brought them to our assembly)
  • Late Feb/early March – shared the Sibelius export files with the secondary teachers and students using dropbox
  • Throughout March – secondary students practise their music at home and start rehearsing together in their music lessons
  • Mid March – assemblies stepped up to twice weekly, to get extra time to rehearse the children and tidy up the songs
  • End March – attended 2 triple music lessons to advise and direct the band – this proved to be vital, although if I had taken less of a key role in the process they would have been able to manage it themselves with their teachers
  • 2 days in advance – double-length assembly with half of the band attending – to run through the final structures of the tunes and to prep the children on what to expect in a recording situation (e.g. lots of patience, re-runs, leads trailing over the floor, red light means silence for recording, OK to chat in the gaps but need to quieten down ultra-quickly at my whistle, etc)
  • Early April – Recorded the tunes in the secondary school theatre, with the band playing live throughout.  Behaviour was exempliary and the children picked themselves up to sing with energy even on the 5th take of each song.

Cross-curricular benefits from music

Let me caveat this blog post before I start.  I’m not an expert in pedagogy, music or otherwise.  I’m an enthusiastic beginner.  But from my experience and from what I have read, I do sense that music needs to fight its corner to be given importance in a school’s curriculum.

This project has demonstrated how valuable music can be as a memory aid across the curriculum, and in driving collaboration between schools.  Children have been more engaged in learning times tables, and they are beginning to stick in their memories more.  If my ideas come off, we will soon be putting on a concert, which will have benefits across Maths, English, Business Studies and Music at both primary and secondary level, and engaging and motivating pupils with an exciting, real-life project.

What other subject can have benefits so widely across the curriculum?  What other subject can so engage and inspire almost every child in a school?  What other subject can involve hundreds of people, of a wide range of ages, in such an active way?

As a management consultant working in large global organisations, I was constantly under pressure to prove the impact and benefit of my work outside my specific area and more widely across the firm and their clients.  From my limited experience, I sense something familiar within arts education.  The big hook which excited my secondary colleagues during our very first meeting was that music was having an impact outside the music department, more widely across the school.

Clearly there are massive cognitive and social benefits for children lucky enough to go to a school with a strong music department, but the department seems to be under unspoken pressure prove its value.  What better way than by writing songs to help children with anything that requires rote learning – times tables, grammar, Kings and Queens, chemical equations…