Music sessions hit the right note

Rhys Prescott (centre) receives the Harrison Ledsham Memorial Award from Harrison's parents, Karen and Paul Ledsham
Rhys Prescott (centre) receives the Harrison Ledsham Memorial Award from Harrison's parents, Karen and Paul Ledsham
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St Helens Council’s Music Service has certainly been hitting all the right notes this year, with a number of concerts and projects hailed a success.

In March this year for the annual Spring Concerts - and more recently for the Summer Concerts - aspiring young musicians, singers and their teachers gathered at the town hall to display their harmonious talents.

Lauren Clarkson receives her St Helens Music Hub award from the Mayor and Mayoress

Lauren Clarkson receives her St Helens Music Hub award from the Mayor and Mayoress

This year’s well attended concerts brought together over 400 children from schools and music groups across the borough who took part in various ensembles, choirs and orchestras over four nights.

For many, this was their first time performing with a group, and their first time in the town hall.

During the spring term, the St Helens Youth Orchestra collaborated with St Helens Sinfonietta for a performance titled ‘Out of the Shadows’ which was created by the youth orchestra with help from world renowned composer, Bill Connor.

The Summer Concert earlier this month (July) saw the launch of the St Helens Music Hub Awards. Youth members Shannon Ellis and Lauren Clarkson were presented with awards by the Mayor and Mayoress of St Helens, councillors Dave and Jeanette Banks for musical achievement throughout the year.

Shannon Ellis receives her St Helens Music Hub award from the Mayor and Mayoress

Shannon Ellis receives her St Helens Music Hub award from the Mayor and Mayoress

Rhys Prescott won the Harrison Ledsham Memorial Award, presented to him by the parents of Harrison, a talented pupil of the Music Service, who sadly lost his battle with cancer last year.

Elsewhere, thanks to the Arts Award pilot project at Queens Park Primary School, 218 pupils passed their Discover Arts Award after taking part in sessions delivered by music service staff.

To achieve Discover, children and young people explore the arts around them, find out about artists and their work and share their experiences with others.

Since then, the Arts Award project has been introduced at Penkford School, where two groups of KS2 and KS3 pupils are on their way towards gaining Explore Arts Award and Bronze Arts Awards.

By September 2016, Arts Award is expected to reach out to 560 pupils across the borough.

To help members of the St Helens Youth Orchestra on their way to achieve Bronze Arts Award, they will visit areas of France and Belgium for five days on what will be the First St Helens Music Service Tour.

The group will perform in two outdoor concerts for the public - a massive step forward and a very exciting time for the Music Service.

Other successful projects include ‘SongFests’ and ‘Superising.’

SongFests are two annual themed song sharing projects for Key Stage 1 and Reception classes from across St Helens in February and March respectively.

A workshop takes place in each participating school to support staff in teaching the collection of songs and artwork is created to fit with the chosen themes - Space and Toys in 2016.

Schools then gather for an event session, held at St Helens Town Hall, with a total of approximately 1000 children attending over the three event days that are the finale to each project.

The Vocal Team dress up as characters to fit with the themes, from aliens to dolls, and lead the children and staff in singing the rehearsed songs, with plenty of actions and extra activities and games added in.

“Feedback from schools this year, as in others, is overwhelming positive. This is partly due to how it helps cover curricular topics and also because of the wonderful collective singing experience it gives the children, “said Acting Assistant Head of Service, Clare Ashton-Hunt.

Supersing is a summer term singing project which uses a variety of engaging songs, largely from pop, music theatre, world and gospel genres, culminating in a large scale massed singing day at St Helens Theatre Royal involving Key Stage 2 pupils and special school classes.

As well as this, a collective High School Choir from across the borough perform, and new to this year, a Teachers Choir.

The Vocal Team deliver a workshop in each school taking part including supporting vocal harmony parts. The Supersing event day this year saw 27 school groups attend creating a fantastic massed singing sound while accompanied by a live Music Service staff band. It certainly makes a memorable and enjoyable musical event for all involved and is a real end of

year celebration.

The success doesn’t stop there. This academic year, the Music Service has entered 167 pupils for their ABRSM Music Medals from Copper - Platinum level

They had their first Special Entry for ABRSM Graded Exams with 27 Pupils passing Grades from Grade 1 -5 with excellent results including several distinctions.

If you have any queries or questions about the Music Service, please call 01744 677946 or email musicservice@sthelens.gov.uk

For regular updates, follow the Music Service on Twitter: @sthelensmusic