Music - Why not say it with song?

2nd November 2012 at 00:00

What it's all about

Like many native English speakers I was not explicitly taught punctuation and grammar, writes Barrie McDermid.

Later, as an English teacher, I realised how many topics could be dull. So I took my old guitar into class and would make up songs to control the behaviour of more challenging pupils.

The result was the Podcastrevision Roadshow (, which became a surprise hit. Then the Punctuation Show emerged. Now I also have the Grammar Show and am working on the Reading Skills Show.

When I visit a new school, it's like a gig. The show begins with music - dance tunes, rock numbers, funk and soul. Then I run through nine elements of punctuation: full stops, semicolons, paragraphs. Each one has an explanation, a quiz test set to music and a dance number with a move for each piece of punctuation. Like karaoke, the words for each song are on the screen.

As a reminder there is a comic strip, which I write and draw. For the semicolon, for example, a cartoon news reader reports on vicious gangs of semicolons barging their way through simple sentences. Primary children end up dancing in the aisles and teachers say the message has stuck.

Listen to Barrie's podcasts on TES Resources (bit.lytesBarriesPodcasts). To book the show or buy the songs, or for free resources, visit and for the pupil-focused website, visit

What else?

Help pupils to use capital letters with a song from pwilloughby3. bit.lyCapitalsSong

Make your own podcasts with a tutorial from paul carney and share them on the TES Resources website. bit.lyMakeAPodcast.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today