Sing Every Day – Behind the Scenes with the VOCES8 Foundation

Ann Wright, Director of Education, Voces8 Foundation

Online: 2nd July 2020

A relationship that has brought much joy to the Plaisterers and successive Masters is that with the VOCES8 Foundation.

Our meeting as Gypsars and Daubers on 2 July was a presentation by Ann Wright, their Director of the Education. Based as a near neighbour at the Church of St Anne and St Agnes, the Plaisterers have often been invited to enjoy a concert of wonderful singing by the children and by the two professional ensembles, VOCES8 and Apollo5. The Plaisterers’ Charitable Trust supports the work that they do with school children and this was to be the subject of the talk – Sing Every Day.

Using these professional musicians, the Foundation works currently with seven London Primary schools in Tower Hamlets and Hackney. These are two of the poorest boroughs in the UK where music education does not otherwise take place. Clearly Covid- 19 has paused the face to face work but Ann explained that they have still managed to work with four of the schools online with their programme – Live from home. She reflected that there were some positive aspects to the online work which would continue but was  not ideal for all. The children in these schools are often already very vulnerable and depend on phone calls from their teachers as they do not have any computer or WIFI access to online teaching. Paper packs of work have been sent around to them but this is not ideal.

The motivation behind the VOCES8 Foundation is that there are so many schools not teaching music and teachers lacking confidence to do this. However the work of the Foundation has shown that once a class or year group is engaged with music and singing that their other skills improve with vocabulary developing more confidence in speaking and interacting. Music can be used to help all subjects with songs for example about mathematics helping children to engage and learn.

VOCES8 Foundation has been using their work as research in order to verify and learn from what they are doing. Ann explained the details of the methodology with a control school acting to help verify the results. These include reading attainment, a perception of social inclusion and quality of school life. The schools that the Foundation work with are not only in poor boroughs but in poor areas within the boroughs with a significant population of Black Asian and ethnic minatory families. Many are eligible for free school meals and with many speaking English as a second language. This helped when one school was learning a song in Turkish as one of the pupils came out of his shell to help the class with the pronunciation.

The programmes give the teachers confidence as well so that they can continue singing every day with their class and motivate the children and expand their abilities. There are positive correlations between singing and attainment.

How wonderful that the Plaisterers’ Charity can assist in this way and enjoy some fabulous singing as well. VOCES8 Foundation are putting on virtual concerts starting from August 1st and Plaisterers are urged to tune in and support them.

Alderman Alison Gowman, Master Plaisterer

Watch the full event below: