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The Leeds Schools Choirs Network

The Leeds Schools Choirs Network was set up in September 2022 for Primary Choir Leaders and Music Leaders in school as part of the Leeds Music Education Partnership’s Singing Strategy led by ArtForms Music.  The purpose is to ensure that every pupil has the opportunity to sing regularly.  All Leeds schools were invited to join and we currently have over 60 primary schools signed up.

Our first event was our ‘Winter Voices’ concert, held in Pudsey Civic Hall on 29th November 2022. Six ‘Satellite’ primary choirs who had signed up to the Network were invited to join together to sing Christmas music, from Benjamin Britten’s ‘New Year Carol’ to Slade’s ‘Merry Christmas Everybody,’ alongside Secondary Choirs and a live band – giving cherished experiences and memories for the children and their families. One of the choir leaders said:

I loved the children’s comments about the senior choirs and how they loved them and wanted to sing like them, I think it gave them real inspiration and purpose for singing. The parents and children were buzzing at the end.

Elizabeth Eales, Shadwell Primary School.

In spring 2023, we launched our first ‘Sing and Swing’ events in the north and west of the city, which brought together local school choirs to sing Jazz and Swing songs, accompanied by a live band. The aim of the project has been to give choirs an event to work towards, to introduce choirs to new repertoire and give them the experience of performing with professional musicians. The events have also helped to reinforce links between local schools.

After our first event at Alwoodley Primary School, Caroline Pattenden (Assistant Head teacher/Choir lead) said:

It was a fantastic event and I felt so proud to be hosting it at Alwoodley. It was so lovely to see so many children singing together again and the smiles on their faces just said it all. Having parents back in school was great and the comments after the event were so positive from staff and parents/carers. I heard some children saying that it was one of their best days ever! Memories I know will last a lifetime for them all.

In addition to running events, we have offered practical support to schools who have wanted to run a choir for the first time, by modelling good practice and signposting choir leaders to useful resources.

Our Schools Choir at Leeds Arena has been our biggest one yet, and we are proud to have given every primary school in Leeds the opportunity to be represented. We had a 400-strong Leeds Schools Choir at the event, including pupils from 48 primary schools across the city, with pupils from Y7 and 8 from two of our secondary Champion Schools joining us too.

It’s not too late to join the network! We have a live link to a Google Form which schools can sign up to at any time in the year: https://forms.gle/TxwV1nU8gHs58Ksb7

Claire Rivers

Leeds Schools Choirs Coordinator, June 2023