Written by Armonico Consort
Since 2009, Armonico Consort – through our music education programme AC Academy – has been offering young people the chance to enjoy the benefits of singing, both in and out of school. Three years ago, we set ourselves an ambitious challenge – to create 300 new children’s choirs and 300 choir leaders by 2020, leaving a legacy of singing in every school we visit across the UK. Choirs are invited to perform in AC Academy Gala concerts alongside professional musicians and celebrity guests in Britain’s most prestigious concert halls. 2016 marks the half-way point in the project and we were delighted to be asked by Soundstorm to deliver this singing programme in Bournemouth and Poole, in partnership with them, and with Lighthouse and Youth Music.
Project leader Simon Lole explains what’s involved:
“It has been a real pleasure to be involved in this collaboration to create new choirs, and to resource and affirm teachers who are unused to leading choirs.
I have been visiting six different schools in the Poole and Bournemouth area. I go in for an hour at a time and take a session with anything from 35 to 90 children. It is important to engage with them immediately and to keep the sessions going at a fast pace with lots of activity. My goal is to teach each group at least five core songs together with one or two of their own choice. Many of the songs are of African origin and have catchy tunes and funky rhythms, which the kids love. There are also call and response ideas that keep them all engaged. I have been amazed how quickly the children pick up melodies and unfamiliar African texts. We also work on simple singing technique – posture and breathing in particular – and I put this into practice with some simple fun exercises. I aim to cover 5 or 6 songs in each session, gradually building their confidence each week. I am forever questioning them and getting them involved and thinking for themselves. At the end of each session I talk to the teacher about their input and encourage and help them to lead part of future sessions when I can observe.
I have six sessions in each school and then we will all get together at Lighthouse on 17 March for a big gala concert where we shall put all our songs together and make a great sound. It should be great fun!”
Armonico Consort www.armonico.org.uk