Community Engagement - About Vocalise!
Since its inception in 2010, our community engagement programme has shared the joy of singing with more than 5,000 primary school children in London. The Bach Choir is a partner with the Tri-borough Music Hub, which serves the London boroughs of Westminster, Hammersmith & Fulham, and the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea. In 2018 we renamed the programme Vocalise! and also began to work with schools in Tower Hamlets. In 2019 we piloted a new singing project for people living with dementia in a care home in Tower Hamlets.
The schools programme
Each year we plan a series of workshops and rehearsals culminating in a public performance in one of London’s concert halls, such as Cadogan Hall or the Royal Albert Hall.
The children, many of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds, have often had little opportunity to express themselves through singing. We watch them learn and develop through the year, gaining confidence with every session.
We encourage parents and guardians to get involved too. They are invited to observe workshops and rehearsals, and are offered a complimentary ticket to the final performance.
Vocalise! relies on volunteers from The Bach Choir. Each workshop is led by an animateur, with a conductor and accompanist, and a small group of singers who are volunteers from the Choir and who sing to and with the children. We are proud of our workshops: our ability to expose the children to four-part harmony, and especially to men’s voices, has proved particularly popular and is part of what makes Vocalise! so special. Many of the children have never previously experienced the thrill of singing in harmony, or even listened to a choir singing live.
An important part of Vocalise! is helping the teachers to provide high-quality music education in their schools. We have run workshops for our participating primary school teachers to learn about and practise techniques for leading singing with children. These sessions also serve as a forum for teachers to share best practice and suitable repertoire and vocal exercises. Read about a previous training day.
Past schools’ concerts
2018-19: Sounds of Music (PDF)
2016-17: The Pied Piper of Hamelin
2014-15: Mr. Lear, Nonsense and Rhyme
2013-14: Captain Noah and his Floating Zoo
2012-13: The World in Folk Song
2011-12: The Angry Planet
The Bach Choir believes that shared music-making is a powerful way to engage with those living with dementia because it accesses multiple areas of the brain, and there is much scientific research to support singing as a beneficial activity. In March 2019 Vocalise! piloted a short singing project for residents, family members and staff at a care home in Tower Hamlets.
The sessions were relaxed and fun, led by a professional music leader and supported by a professional pianist and singers from the Choir. Together we took part in warm-ups and vocal games, sang familiar popular songs by artists such as Elvis Presley, and learned Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus in harmony. The pilot received positive feedback from participants and is due to be expanded into an eight-week project in the near future.
Listen to some excerpts from the 2019 project here:
The Bach Choir is grateful to the following Trusts for their generous support of our Vocalise! programme:
The Alchemy Foundation
The Derek Hill Foundation
McLay Dementia Trust
The R K Charitable Trust
Outreach Administrator: Joseph Hookway firstname.lastname@example.org