Harmony is a community choir whose members come from lots of different countries. Choir members are often inspired to want to teach a song from their own background, and I always encourage and support this – everyone really loves singing these new and varied songs.
I had often thought about offering a short course where interested choir members could learn and practice some basic song leading skills in a supportive group, and gain the confidence to step up.
The New Year Bursaries offered by Arts Together were a vital prompt – stop thinking about it and do it! The bursaries seemed an ideal fit with what I had in mind, and unlike the usual burdensome application form, Arts Together made it really simple to apply. Just as important, the deadline of having to complete activity by the end of March was a strong incentive to move from idea to action.
And so our 6 session ‘Basic Song Leading Course’ was born, starting at the Swarthmore Centre on February 15th. Several people from Harmony have already signed up, we are busy promoting it to other community choirs and hope to get more. The bursary will enable Harmony members (and others) who are on very low incomes to attend for free and receive bus fares. I will teach the course along with another experienced choir leader, Jane Edwardson.
I don’t think there has been anything like this available in Leeds, where keen singers from diverse backgrounds are supported to become singing leaders – without having to read music. Hopefully the participants will not only benefit personally, but also go on to add much needed diversity to the Leeds community choir world!
This project was supported with funding from the Arts Together New Year scheme 2023.
Written by Frances Bernstein
Choir Leader, Harmony Choir