Primary school children begin their a cappella journeys with Out of the Blue!

We always love it when groups from across programmes meet up to learn from each other – so imagine our delight when we heard that Out of the Blue – veritable a cappella celebs and current Voice Festival Champions – were heading to Eynsham Community Primary School in Oxfordshire to show them some a cappella basics.

What follows makes Voice Festival blogging history – our first guest post written by primary school children! Congratulations to everyone involved in the day – we hope it inspires other groups to get stuck in with a cappella collaboration and education.

We were lucky enough to have Out of the Blue come to Eynsham Primary School on Thursday 18th December to teach us some songs and warm-up exercises.

First OOTB performed in assembly to the whole school. The song that they sang was called ‘Hips Don’t Lie’ and everybody loved it. After that they did a quick piece about themselves so that we knew who they all were, although some of us had already learnt their names! Then every class had the chance to take part in a workshop with them.

The workshop began with Out of the Blue singing us one of their songs and the best part was Jack’s dancing. Then we did some warm-ups such as an exercise to warm up our bodies where we had to shake different parts of our body and count down from 8. Next Joel gave us a quick tutorial about beatboxing which really improved our original skills. Finally Roshan taught us how to sing one of their songs – ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’. We were all very sad when we had to leave, but glad for the concert in the evening.

We were really lucky because OOTB came down to our class and we got to ask them questions. A few boys in our class also performed two songs for them (‘Hips Don’t Lie’ and ‘C’est La Vie’) with dance moves – it was so funny. They want to be in Out of the Blue when they are older.

In the evening Out of the Blue performed a concert in our school hall and lots of people attended. They sang lots of brilliant songs including ‘Silent Night’, ‘Rolling on the River’ and ‘Lady Marmalade’.

During the concert all children in the audience were able to perform ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ on stage with them. It was AMAZING and we had so much fun!

Here are a few quotes from some children about their time with OOTB:

“Absolutely wonderful! The best part was teaching us how to beatbox.”

“The best part of the day was when Singing Squad got to sing to Out of the Blue in assembly.”

“I really enjoyed Domhnall teaching us the song ‘My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean’ and we had to bob up and down when a word started with ‘b’.”

“My favourite part was when a few of us sang and danced for Out of the Blue.”

 

OOTB Eynsham OOTB Eynsham OOTB Eynsham


Take the Stage at London A Cappella Festival 2015

For a number of years we at The Voice Festival have collaborated with our friends at London A Cappella Festival to put on a schools event during the 4 day LACF takeover of Kings Place. This year, things were a bit different… Instead of bringing established groups together, we invited some schools that are just starting their journeys forming new a cappella groups. And what a day it was!

The brilliant Michael Humphrey kicked off the workshops for the day helping students and teachers alike develop the skills to learn and write a cappella music – it was a cappella by numbers! Amazingly, after less than an hour, we were building tricky chords, singing any interval under the sun and had 3 part complex rhythms going on.

A brief break for everyone to catch their breath and we were off again learning an arrangement of Uptown Funk from scratch. You would never believe more than half of the group hadn’t even TRIED a cappella before. An hour later, there was a very impressive version of the Bruno Mars/Mark Ronson hit being sung. Oh, and on top of that, a short mash up section incorporating some fabulous Michael Jackson, Clean Bandit, and Jessie J solos.

After lunch, the groups were treated to a rendition of Weather to Fly by The Swingles. There were LOTS of wide eyes and open mouths as they looked desperately round for the drum kit. There wasn’t time for the kids to hang around though as it was time for our new students to start writing their own music. Midway through the session the Swingles decided to recruit a new member from within the hall, but realised that their next tour to the US would be tricky as Callum had to be back at school on Monday. The day was wrapped up with a performance of Uptown Funk, a listen to Glyn School’s version of Forget You and a special song about that night’s takeaway menu.

But that’s not the end of our links with these, all the schools will now head off with their new found skills and start a cappella groups in school as members of this year’s VF-UK School Start-Up scheme. So watch this space – this won’t be the last you hear of Glyn School, St George’s RC School & William Ellis!


All the King’s Men get stuck into a cappella education

B2K3oWcCUAAnWq7 On Tuesday 11th November All the King’s Men journeyed to the Glyn School, in Surrey, to run a series of a cappella workshops across a range of age groups, including one made up exclusively of GCSE and A-Level music students. In each hour-long session the Men introduced the groups to a range of different aspects of a cappella music, including vocal percussion, harmony and breathing technique. As well as touching base with Dr. Couchman, the Glyn school’s head of curricular music and AtKM alumni Tom Hindmarch’s sister, we worked alongside other members of the music department staff to ensure the day ran smoothly. We were thrilled by both the enthusiasm of the students and the positive feedback from staff, and cannot wait to return to the school in the future.

For many of us, school workshops are a highlight of singing with AtKM. It gives us the opportunity to share our musical experiences, as well as introducing the next generation of musicians to areas of vocal music that are not included in the core curriculum. In a school such as the Glyn School, where years 7 to 11 are all-boys, one of the biggest challenges is dispelling the stigma around males singing. It is one of the most rewarding aspects of singing with the group when we get teenage boys to set aside their preconceptions about a cappella music, and join us in singing the All the King’s Men classic ‘In the Jungle’.

B2KfbSdIcAAdODyAll the King’s Men would like to thank the Glyn School for the warm welcome we received and to all of their music students for their tremendous energy. We look forward to continuing our involvement with schools and education over the forthcoming year and beyond.

A big thank you to Sam Lyons of All the King’s Men for sharing his experience of the day. If you think your group has done something noteworthy or unique with individuals from your community, and would like to write a blog post for us, email beth@thevoicefestival.co.uk for more details. Alternatively, if you’d like some tips on how to provide a cappella workshops for young people, or would like to be matched up with another group in your area, get in touch with amy@thevoicefestival.co.uk, who’d be delighted to help.


School Start-Up 2015 – What’s it all about?

P1040736Are you a teacher or do you work in schools? Want to get your boys and girls singing music that they want to sing while still working on harmonies, rhythm and allowing them to be creative? Then we would love for you to take part in School Start-Up. As ever, the Voice Festival is offering something bigger and better than ever before.

We know that getting young people singing can sometimes be tricky. Or what they want to sing doesn’t allow for collaboration and creativity. An a cappella group is THE perfect way to stimulate singing within schools. Over the last year within the Voice Festival Youth Programme we’ve seen groups of 40 boys from schools singing a cappella arrangements alongside their headteacher; we’ve seen some beatboxing by school students that you would not believe wasn’t coming from a beatboxer in a professional group; and we’ve seen lots of young groups performing arrangements that students of only 15/16 have written. It really is inspirational to see young people loving the music that they are singing.

Man BandSo how can you bring this to your school? We’re teaming up with our lovely friends at the London A Cappella Festival to offer you a launch event which will be the group’s first taste of a cappella. We’ll then send you away with a handbook and a mentor who has heaps of a cappella experience and will be on hand to answer questions and give you support on your a cappella journey. Then we’ll bring you back together with your new a cappella pals, introduce you to some University and Community groups and give you a performance event in which you can try out some of your new skills. If you like the sound of this then drop Amy an email on amy@thevoicefestival.co.uk and we’ll get back to you with some more information.


Highlights from the Youth Programme, 2013-2014

Making plans for the next academic year has given us the opportunity to reflect back on all that’s been achieved over the past 12 months – which have flown past in a blur of a cappella magic! Over the next few weeks, our three fabulous programme managers will be sharing some of their favourite memories and moments from our most recent events.

Catherine

First up is Catherine, who has done a magnificent job of leading our youth groups and group leaders through a series of memorable workshops, webinars and competitions. Here’s what she had to say…

 

Well, what a year it’s been! From starting working with the Voice Festival at the end of September 2013, it’s been a year (well 8 months) spent living at 100 miles an hour ever since. I have been delighted by the quality and enthusiasm of all our Youth Groups this year so it’s really difficult to pick some highlights but here’s my top 10 (well I think it is anyway – ask me on a different day and I’ll tell you something else…)

1. The sheer number of brilliant boys that have been involved this year. Having never had a male Voice Festival Youth Champion before, it’s brilliant that we’ve had over 150 taking part in the Youth Programme this year.

Singers Limited and Swingles2. Seeing all our participants at Take the Stage standing on stage singing “Hallelujah” with the Swingle Singers.

3. During the Beatboxing workshop with Jack Blume at the Festival Weekend, seeing one of our teachers taking on a student in a beatboxing battle (the student won)

 

4. Hearing some of our teachers sharing stories and tips in a recent webinar about how they support a cappella in their schools.

5. Seeing some spectacular creativity at Take the Stage where some of our Youth Participants did some on the spot improvisation and enjoying some spectacular results

6. Some powerful solos throughout the year from every single group that’s taken part.

P10406717. The Tiffinians performance of Colder Weather in the Youth Competition Finals which was quite simply spine tingling.

8. Seeing the progress that both The King’s Barbers and Vocal Grange made between Take the Stage and the Youth Competition – just a month apart. (“Soul Sister” and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” sticking in the mind).

9. Seeing some ex-participants from the youth programme singing in university groups and watching them support their former groups.

P104072810. Speaking to lots of youth participants completely enthused by a cappella with aspirations to carry on singing in groups way beyond their time at school.

So now we’re winding down for the year and starting to plan next year’s season! If you’ve got ideas then we’d really like to hear from you so do email me at catherine@thevoicefestival.co.uk. The next big thing that the Voice Festival team has been planning is going to be a showcase at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with a workshop in the afternoon – if you were going to go to sample some quality a cappella then why not try to fit August 8th at Greyfriars Kirk into your schedule!


Why we loved the opportunity to ‘Take the Stage’ – by The Gist

Image of all singing participants who took part in Take the Stage

Credit: Haydn Wheeler and LACF

 

Lancaster Barbershop Quartet, The Gist, are one of many youth a cappella groups who took part in ‘Take the Stage’ – a day of a cappella learning and performing which was organised by the Voice Festival UK and the London A Cappella Festival.  Here’s what The Gist had to say about it:

The Gist had looked forward to the London A Cappella Festival for a long time. We arrived at King’s Place in London on Friday morning having arrived in London from Lancaster the previous night. We received a warm welcome from the team, and we followed the other school groups into the first rehearsal room. Within minutes any nerves we had were lost, and we were all very excited to see what the day would bring. We started with big group warm up with the Swingle Singers and the five other school age a cappella groups. This proved to be very entertaining and a great way to break the ice. We were then split up into  groups, with two professional singers per two groups, for the rest of the morning. We were taken by Oli from the Swingle Singers and Tine from Postyr. They certainly put us through our paces! We were given a great deal of advice, guidance and different ways of singing together as a group, including many novel techniques we had never attempted before. We have benefited hugely from all their suggestions and they helped us to improve as individual singers and as a group. The day culminated in an afternoon performance where we could see the other groups involved. We also sang together with all the other school groups and the Swingle Singers themselves in a performance of ‘Lady Madonna’, which was a fantastic experience.

The ‘Take the Stage’ workshop provided us with unprecedented exposure to a wealth of knowledge of a cappella music, an incredible opportunity for which we will always be hugely grateful.

Thanks to The Gist! 

To find out about other opportunities for school age a cappella singers, please contact alexandra@thevoicefestival.co.uk