UWE project gets boys reaching for the high notes

Issue date: 12 July 2005

Issue date: 12/07/05

Education researchers from the University of the West of England, working in partnership with Bristol Cathedral School, Bristol Cathedral, Bristol City Council’s Arts Service and the Northern Arc Action Zone, have won funding from Youth Music to help encourage boys in primary schools to join choirs.

The project, ‘Bristol Voices’, brings together trainee teachers with musical talent, school teachers, children with lack of access to specialist music tuition, local choirs and IT experts with the aim of improving the quality of choral music in schools and of encouraging more boys to sing.

Dr Martin Ashley from the Faculty of Education at Bristol UWE is co-ordinating the programme, he said, “Student teachers training on the new 3 + 1 course in Education Studies with a focus on English and the arts in primary education starting this September will combine their training experience with developing music tuition in local primary schools that do not find it easy to recruit staff with strong musical backgrounds. The students will bring their musical experience and help to co-ordinate and encourage children to become involved in choirs. The trainee would support the teacher with musical expertise, the teacher would in turn contribute to the trainees development through sharing expertise in teaching standards.

“The link with each school will span the entire training period for the 3+1 students of four years so the project is sustainable in each school taking part.

“There is particular emphasis placed on encouraging boys to sing as this has sometimes been portrayed as ‘uncool’ and we want to show boys how uplifting and fun singing in groups can be. We intend to involve all local choirs including the Cathedral Choir and the ultimate aim is to encourage more boys to join any of the range of established choirs in Bristol.”

The announcement of new funding was welcomed by Bristol Cathedral School, which supported the initial phase of Bristol Voices last year by securing funding from the Choir Schools Association and by arranging for its pupils in the Cathedral Choir to sing with primary school youngsters.

Bristol Cathedral School Head Mrs Anne Davey said: “It’s wonderful news to hear that there is now funding available to continue with Bristol Voices. As a centre of musical excellence, particularly in choral music, we are delighted that we can play our part in promoting singing in the city through this project.”

The project particularly aims to benefit school children with little or no access to private music tuition. During the autumn, children aged 7-11 from across Bristol will be invited to Bristol Cathedral for regular Saturday morning rehearsals ahead of their performance in Christmas Carols by Candlelight. After Christmas, the cathedral will host a new Saturday morning youth choir, which will focus initially on a Festival of Youth Song at Easter 2006. In turn, the Cathedral will be working with IT experts who will produce a backing track CD Rom of choral music that can be taken into schools as a teaching aid.


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