'Bristol Voices' get scientific

Issue date: 01 March 2006

UWE logo Primary school children from the Bristol Voices choir will be joining boy choristers from Bristol Cathedral and St Mary Redcliffe for a Saturday morning singing workshop on 4 March. The object is to show the primary school children that it's 'cool' for boys to sing high notes.

Research undertaken by Dr Martin Ashley of the University of the West of England and funded by Youth Music reveals that primary school children are often unaware of boys' potential as singers. “It came as a surprise when I discovered evidence that girls are actively pushing boys out of singing by calling them 'girlie'. I'd always believed that it was boys' peers who did this,” said Dr Ashley. “I've also got robust evidence, however, that the ability to hit really high notes with power and an easy confidence can be a source of masculine esteem – once boys know about it.”

The singing workshop is immediately followed by a hands-on 'science and the voice' workshop presented by Professor David Howard from the University of York. David is a leading expert on the scientific aspects of the human voice and has published highly regarded work on the difference between boys' and girls' voices. Pupils will be able not only to see what their voices look like on electronic gadgetry, but to gaze at a possible future when they might be made redundant by computers that can synthesize them! Even experienced choristers may be challenged by some of the latest computer software that analyses their voices and tells them how in-tune their singing is!

Thirty boys and forty two girls have been involved in the Bristol Voices choir which is drawn from Embleton, Bank Leaze, Westbury on Trym and Blaise primary schools in the Opportunity Zone. They are shortly to be joined by children from Withywood primary schools who have previously sung with Bristol Choral Society's outreach programme.

The Youth Music funded Bristol Voices project, is a collaboration between UWE, Bristol Cathedral and Bristol City Council.


Editor's notes

The Bristol Voices project is a collaboration between UWE, Bristol Cathedral and Bristol City Council Arts Service. Its principal aims are to encourage children with the least opportunity to join choirs through teaching them about singing and to improve significantly the quality of singing in primary schools through supporting, training and developing teachers.

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