During this academic year (2015/16) pupils in Year 4 at Gallions Primary School have been taking part in a Newham-wide singing project. The resident choir at Stratford Circus, NewYVC (which stands for New Young Voice Collective), received funding for two years to run an outreach project in which they engaged with local primary and secondary schools in Newham to create a massed choir – NewYVC Unite. The pupils from Gallions were some of the youngest children taking part and have been working hard all year to learn lots of songs. The children tackled a wide range of musical styles from a piece inspired by an Indian Rag to Mozart and new songs written especially for NewYVC. The wide range of musical styles were all learned through different methods; aurally, from a lyric sheet, through creative rift building and from following a score, thus developing their musical skills. There were weekly lunchtime rehearsals and two big cluster rehearsals at other schools before the big concert day arrived. On Tuesday 19th July, together with five other schools, the children from Gallions had an afternoon full of rehearsals in the theatre and then gave an amazing performance to parents, teachers and friends in the evening. The children at Gallions are very much looking forward to taking part in NewYVC Unite next year, learning more new music and taking the opportunity to perform at the Royal Festival Hall.
In the summer term Gallions Primary School established the Boys Vocal project, an initiative to get more boys in Years 5 and 6 singing. The initial six-week pilot project was generously supported by the Worshipful Company of Weavers. The project was run as a breakfast club at school after eating breakfast together they had a singing workshop in our new Music Centre. The Vocal Mentors (singers from the NewYVC choir) started the sessions with a range of warm ups designed to focus the boys’ attention as well as get them vocally ready to sing. During the first half term the boys rehearsed a Michael Jackson medley and a Grime mash-up but the crowning glory was the composition of their own song ‘We are one’ (complete with choreography) which they performed to peers, staff and parents at the school half term concert in May. The Vocal Mentors also took to the stage inspiring many Gallions pupils who were watching. Both performances were very well received and both Boys Vocal and the Vocal Mentors were asked to perform again at the end of the concert.
After the success of the first half term we were very keen to continue the project to the end of the summer term. Leading on from their very successful performance of ‘We are one’ we wanted the boys to experience other boys their age and slightly older enjoying singing to further encourage them so we took them to the ‘Boys Can Sing’ event at City Academy in Hackney on Thursday 16th June. The event was a day of vocal workshops with renowned singing coaches and the fantastic beatboxer Schlomo whose performance was a particular favourite of the Gallions boys. This further encouraged the boys’ interest in performance leading some of them to audition for (and win) the school talent competition (Gallions Got Talent!) without any help from their teachers.
In addition to further developing their enjoyment of singing, the aim of the Boys Vocal project in the second half term was to encourage the boys to integrate into Senior Choir. With this in mind, Boys Vocal worked towards two songs, one on their own called ‘Ngo 1940’ which they worked on with the Vocal Mentors and the other was a joint item with the Senior Choir ‘Hymn for the Weekend’.
On Monday 11th April thirty children from Years 4-6 took part in a fabulous performance at the world renowned Barbican Centre as part of Newham Music hub’s concert ‘An Evening with Newham Music’.
The children had been taking part in a project run by Newham Music called ‘Play Dub Now’. During the autumn and spring terms in a number of afterschool sessions the children worked with Newham Music Tutors and The Warrior International to explore the musical genres of Dub and Reggae. Over the two terms the group learned to play ‘Satta Massagana’ by The Abyssinians. They performed this song alongside children from other local schools at the Barbican in April. The other primary schools who took part sang in the performance, it was only Gallions pupils and a few students from Kingsford who played instruments.
Children from across three year groups at Gallions took part and it was brilliant to see the group (who had never played together before this project) pull together as a team. Some of the children were members of the school senior orchestra but a number of them were engaging with extracurricular music for the first time. The Play Dub Now Project performance opened the concert, after which Gallions pupils sat in the circle to watch the rest of the first half. We saw some great performances including the Roma Bridging Sounds Orchestra (who will be visiting Gallions next term). It was also lovely to see so many Gallions parents in the audience supporting their children.
The concert featured in the Newham Recorder and there are some brilliant photos of Gallions pupils on stage: http://www.newhamrecorder.co.uk/news/newham_performers_put_on_amazing_evening_of_music_at_the_barbican_1_4492556
On Wednesday 23rd March a chamber ensemble from Gallions Primary School were invited to perform in the Lister Community School Spring Concert. The concert took place in the imposing Agora at Lister where there was lots of space for the big audience full of staff, friends and parents. The ensemble from Gallions involved Year 5 string players and was specially put together by our Lead Practitioner in KS2 Music, Petra Ronkko. The group performed the Merry Widow Waltz by Lehár which was well received by the audience. The evening was also an opportunity for the children from Gallions to hear other young musicians from Newham perform including the Lister Jazz Band and Newham Music’s Roma Bridging Sounds Orchestra who proved particularly popular, and in which four Gallions pupils are regular members.