Opera Start Projects
VoiceChoice are delighted to announce that in November 2020 it was awarded an Arts Council grant to deliver a new pilot project building on last year’s work with Sutton Academy, but venturing into new territory for VoiceChoice. Due to the challenging circumstances in education brought about by the global pandemic of Covid, we are piloting a method of running online creative workshops with Year 9. VoiceChoice leadership will be directing different groups of students in a series of inventive music and performance based activity via big screen projection. This will be followed by workshops with a full class of primary school children from Forest Glade Primary school with on the ground support from staff. It will run from November to the end of January 2021. If successful, we are planning to put a much larger project together in2021 utilising the new approach, combining it with live delivery later in the year and culminating in live performance. Watch this space!
Summer/Autumn 2017 was a very challenging transition project beginning with Year 6 Primary pupils transferring to Kirkby College as Year 7 students in Autumn 2017. Based on a Mozart opera and other music forms, we endeavoured to raise aspirations and increase levels of concentration, as well as cultivating musical and vocal skills. Many of these children had learning difficulties and no experience of team work so achieving a creative piece with an end show was an extremely demanding proposition!
Summer 2016 was a Magic Flute Project with inner-city primary school Radford Academy. Working with 30 children from the Academy our team of 10 leaders, musicians and professional singers generated a special project with children from multi-lingual, multi-cultural backgrounds which proved quite a challenge as there were several with little or no English.
Autumn 2016 was another Mozart project with Stathern Primary school - a rural school with no access to this sort of music project. A final performance generously hosted by Belvoir High School in December, (as Stathern have no hall!) was a testimony to what can be achieved with few facilities, a tiny village hall, and great support from headmaster and staff alike.
Funding 2015 & 2016
VoiceChoice hit the ground running in 2015 with new funding success.
Less than two months after our start-up, VoiceChoice was successful in winning a substantial Arts Council Grant towards an exciting new project which ran in conjunction with Nottingham Music Hub. Operatic Startup was designed to help kick-start and sustain musical participation in year 7 students at two inner city schools. The project started on September 16th 2015 and ran to Spring 2016 with our team running a project designed to engage young people in the process of creating and performing their own musical scenes and songs.
Operatic Start Up
Our current project started at Bluecoat Beechdale Academy and revolved around Bizet’s Carmen. Here are some photos from the workshops in progress.
We begin our second part of the project at the beginning of February with Djanogly Academy. This will be with a new group of Year 7 students and will act as a transitional project to help integrate this very multi-ethnic group of children into their new school and their music programme. Watch this space....
The Opera Start model
The Opera Start model has been used and refined in more than 40 secondary and primary schools to date and each programme is tailored to best address the needs of the students. It has proved highly effective, both educationally and socially.
The main educational aims are to help the participants realise their own creativity, develop their voices and appreciate the linkage between what they are creating and an established operatic work.
Socially, the project aims to stimulate creative thinking, develop interpersonal skills through co-operation and teamwork and build self-confidence.
An evaluation of the Opera Start approach by Nottingham Trent University described the students as “apprentices who are gradually inducted into a new community in which they too can become expert.”
The experience has been inspirational for many young people, including some who have failed to engage with more traditional teaching methods and become disaffected and difficult in the school environment. A few have even been inspired to develop their newfound interest in music and join the VoiceChoice
The young students are not the only people to benefit from the Opera Start programme. Members of the Chorus take part as team leaders, mentors, prop makers, improvisers and performers, developing, as they do, their own creative and interactive abilities which can then be applied in many other settings.