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Mrs Izard’s Blog - Singing is good for the soul

As I’m sure you’re aware, I love to sing, and nothing gives me more pleasure than to share my passion with the children here at Gateway. I sang in various choirs from a very early age and remember the excitement of learning new songs and performing them in front of an audience. Choral singing is a hugely important part of our school culture and we are fortunate to have four well-attended choirs  - Junior and Senior Choir, Chamber Choir and Staff Choir, three of which I am privileged to lead. They do say that ‘singing is good for the soul’ and that group singing in particular forges social bonds and improves happiness and well-being - I wholeheartedly agree! Scientists have shown that not only does singing in a choir make you feel good, it’s got health benefits, too. Researchers at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, found that choristers’ heartbeats synchronise when they sing together, bringing about a calming effect that is as beneficial to our health as yoga. It explains why there are so many people in this country flocking to choirs - there are more than 3,000 groups listed on the British Choirs on the Net website and numbers are increasing. There are said to be more choirs across the country now than there are fish and chip shops!

On Tuesday evening, Senior Choir took part in the Young Voices Concert at the O2 Arena, an epic performance that I’m sure the children and parents who came will remember for many years to come (click here to watch a YouTube video of the 2019 performances). We were slightly concerned that adverse weather might affect our day but thank goodness it didn’t spoil things for us. For the past 20 years, Young Voices has staged the largest children's choir concerts in the world. Each night, around 10,000 children perform as a single choir to an audience of family and friends.  Nothing can prepare you for the sound of thousands of children singing together - it makes for one of the most exciting and memorable musical experiences you can imagine. Hearing that first song of the evening concert is always a spine tingling moment for me! Music is specially selected for the concerts to create a broad and diverse musical repertoire, with the intention to introduce children to music which they might not otherwise access. All the songs have to be learnt from memory which is no mean feat. This year we have learnt so many different styles - traditional American folk songs, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Coldplay, Blondie, The Kinks, Michael Jackson, The Bangles, The Cure, Lin Manuel Miranda to name but a few. However I think our firm favourites were the songs from the Pop Medley and the Greatest Showman Medley, the concert’s grand finale.

This is an annual event I always look forward to, and this year I felt a huge sense of pride watching every single one of the 44 children in our choir singing their hearts out and giving it their all. It is the sheer excitement and high energy levels of the children that make this such a special evening. Do have a look at the video footage I’ve posted. Fantastic lighting effects and special guest artists always contribute to the amazing atmosphere and we were fortunate to be joined by three inspirational artists - Tony Hadley of Spandau Ballet fame, Sharlene Hector from Basement Jaxx and 15 year old Beau Dermott from Britain’s Got Talent, who professed to have started her singing journey as a member of the Young Voices choir.

On the coach journey home, a group of children made a comment which reminded me why choral singing is so important to me and why I love this particular event:

‘That was the best day ever!’

Have a good weekend!

Rebecca Izard

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Gateway Pupil in music lesson