Tom Daggett reports on what St Pauls Choir School are doing and how the Plaisterers support has helped.
Choir Church introduces the English Choral Tradition to local primary schools. Choir Church in Shadwell is based at St Paul’s Church of England Primary School, Whitechapel. Thanks to the support of the Worshipful Company of Plaisterers, 200 children from diverse backgrounds in East London benefit from weekly singing sessions for each class, an after-school choir which performs locally and further afield, and the wider social and musical benefits which singing to a high standard can bring. Years 2-6 each have 20 minutes of classroom singing every Wednesday afternoon, and the choir meets from 3:30-4:30pm. Members of the Livery would be welcome to attend any such Wednesday session, and have a tour of the school, please contact the Clerk to help arrange this.
The Livery’s support of Choir Church in Shadwell enables half a day’s teaching plus an after-school choir for a whole year. Tom Daggett (OBE Organ Outreach Fellow, St Paul’s Cathedral) leads the teaching and choir. The Plaisterers’ Company is solely making this work in this school possible.
2021 the pandemic. Choir Church met weekly to share singing assemblies with children at home, including video resources, live zoom singalong sessions for the whole school, and zoom choir practices. We supported the children by focusing on a different wellbeing concept each week (e.g. resilience, patience, kindness, generosity), and taught music as we would in person, which linked to these themes. From February to April, singing with keyworker children took place in person in school, and from April, the full singing schedule resumed, with two after-school choirs maintained (one for each ‘bubble’ of the school). From September 2021, the full programme of teaching and services has resumed. Singing in the school has come on enormously since this project began. Children have learned to read music with confidence – and sing pieces from Tallis to John Rutter – and the singing culture in the school is hugely valued by children, teachers and parents alike.
Choir Church Foundation Registered Charity 1193985 The Choir Church model is now being shared with parishes and schools across the country. The Choir Church Foundation has been founded to support this growth, as well as to maintain the founding Choir Church in St Paul’s Primary School, Shadwell. Choir Church has three strands:
- Singing in schools – inspired by the English Choral Tradition, led by a professional musician – employed either by church or school
- Eucharistic worship – congregation built in school around the children’s choir and their parents; 4 times per term, covering key Christian festivals & seasons
- Working for social justice – the children connect what they see in their communities, with what they sing, which fuels how they act for the common good