Aldeburgh Music: Friday Afternoons

On 14 and 15 September school pupils from across Skye were invited to take part in singing and composition workshops run by Aldeburgh Music’s international singing project, Friday Afternoons, in partnership with ATLAS.

Aldeburgh Music is a globally acclaimed performance centre that runs an educational outreach programme called Friday Afternoons that focuses on encouraging young people to sing. Since 2013, they have worked with over 80,000 children from around the world. This is the first time they have worked in Scotland.

ATLAS Arts collaborated with them as part of the project A Work for the North Atlantic, a year-long programme which encompasses: an installation of Bethan Huws’ film Singing for the Sea at the Skye Sailing Club, a new artwork commission and schools’ workshops.

Kilmuir, Knockbreck, Macdiarmid, Staffin and Portree primaries took part in singing workshops led by Charles MacDougall, which focused on vocal technique and ensemble singing with fun and engaging warm-ups. Pupils from Portree High were also invited to participate in a more technical workshop developing voice control and performance skills.

Elgol and Sleat primary schools were involved in special composition workshops led by Ellie Moran to write a new song that will become part of the Friday Afternoon’s Song Bank, a free resource available online for teachers and schools across the globe to utilise as a means to encourage singing.

The workshops aimed to not only enthuse pupils, but also inspire teachers and offer them something new to take back to their lessons. Teachers commented: the workshops were brilliant and a big hit with pupils and staff” and that the children really benefitted from the experience”.

Ann Barkway, project manager at Aldeburgh Music spoke of the opportunity to work with so many pupils in Skye: we were thrilled to have the wonderful opportunity of working with ATLAS Arts to provide singing and composition workshops to hundreds of children from across the island. Led by a team of composer, librettist and singing leaders, two days of music-making allowed Friday Afternoons to develop its work in a new region of the UK, helping to enable and engage young people creatively in an island community. The experience was fantastic in terms of the number of children involved, the enthusiasm of their teachers, and the legacy it has helped to create – a new song written by two groups of pupils will be included in the online Song Bank. This is what the project is all about!”

Pupils from Portree Primary School practising rounds, singing Fire! from the Friday Afternoons’ Song Bank, which is a free resource for teachers to use to bring singing into the classroom.