The single best thing I have been involved with as a teacher is taking my choir to Young Voices. Everyone involved comes in to school the next day still buzzing with excitement. Very tired, but very excited.
The children have a wonderful experience to perform at an iconic venue, like the O2 Arena, which is pretty cool. Furthermore, they get to perform with professional musicians, singers and dancers of an impressively high standard. This is an experience which will inspire and motivate the children and will live long in the memory. There are some really magical moments where you catch the children staring, open mouthed, as Natalie Williams begins to sing or Urban Strides are dancing. I like to think I can do a pretty good singing assembly, but this is a whole different level of inspiration.
Parents also came back having had an amazing evening of entertainment. This is not your average children’s concert, this is one you will really enjoy and you will get up and dance. Everyone does, you simply can’t help it. My mum and sister recently went to watch my niece at one of this year’s Birmingham shows and phoned me as soon as they came out, both full of excitement about what they had just witnessed.
For the teachers it’s a long day, and I’ve never been more alert than when leaving the O2 in the rain trying to repeatedly count children making sure everyone gets safely back to the coach. However, it’s a whole lot of fun. We sang, we danced, we conquered. All the staff involved loved it, and that cannot be said for every school trip or concert.
The shows are expertly put together by, Musical Director, Craig McLeish, who always meets the challenge of compiling and arranging a collection of songs to appeal to all ages pulling from a range of genres.
Here are some tips if you are thinking of taking your choir to a Young Voices event next year.
- Go to the teacher’s workshop. It helpful and loads of fun.
- As well as taking a banner, take some form of headwear that will help your choir stand out. Helpful for getting noticed as the audience enter the arena, also very helpful when leaving the arena safely at the end.
- Encourage the parents to also have someway of drawing attention to themselves. The children love to know where their parents are and it is not an easy task.
- Take water bottles to regularly refill.
- Rehearse loads. Add your own dance moves.
- Perfection is great. However, if it is unattainable for you and your choir, make fun the priority. You may not get all of the moves exactly right, but enjoy expressing yourselves through the music. The more fun the children have the more they are likely to be hooked by the performance bug.
What led me to Young Voices?
Music simply isn’t taught as much in schools as it should be. Music is so important for the soul and mind and the fact it gets squeezed out in place of extra SPaG lessons is a travesty. But it does. I know it’s not the only hard done by subject but it’s one I care about immensely so I will bang the literal and figurative drum for music lessons all day long.
The two main reasons, as far as I can tell, for music taking a back seat in modern schools are the congested curriculum and teacher confidence in delivering good quality music lessons. Both of these excuses are able to be overcome with will-power and enthusiasm, which has helped me increase music participation in my school in whole class lessons, individual tuition, clubs and school productions.
While I feel I’ve had some success in this area, I recognise this to be a national problem. I also fully understand the pressures on teachers to get results in the core subjects of reading, writing, maths and science, so explicit music teaching is not a priority. This being the case, I am always on the look out for opportunities for our children to perform and experience music at it’s best. I has previously written about how we recorded an album with the whole school and the impact it had, making use of ICT to help engagement and also given tips for putting on productions. The search for more new and exciting experiences for our children led me to Young Voices and I am very happy with the experiences I have had with them so far. No doubt I’ll be signing up to do it all again very soon.