Learning a musical instrument, getting the chance to perform in public or working with a world-class voice coach are within reach of all Somerset’s children thanks to its pioneering music service.
Last month hundreds of children and young people at schools across Somerset were given a unique opportunity to work with world-renowned choral director Mark De-Lisser, who’s worked with stars on The Masked Singer and coached singers on The Voice.
He led a week-long series of life-affirming workshops organised by Somerset Music and Jackdaws Music Education Trust, on behalf of Sound Foundation Somerset supported by Somerset County Council and Support Services for Education.
It’s just one example of what Somerset Music can and does offer alongside a raft of other events and services.
Mark’s credits also include arranging Stand by Me for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding and working with the likes of Jesse J and Ariana Grande as a voice coach.
Pupils attended the ‘Gifted and Talented’ vocal events in an initiative which is part of the Singing Strategy offer for schools delivered on behalf of Sound Foundation Somerset, the county music hub.
Faye Purbrick, Cabinet Member for Education and Transformation at Somerset County Council said: “What a fantastic opportunity for young people to take part in some inspirational choral workshops. But this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to music provision and events in the County.
“Somerset Music and Sound Foundation Somerset provide vital access to lessons and musical activities, as well as the chance to perform, for thousands of children and young people in Somerset.”
The workshops were designed to encourage pupils to develop their range of singing styles and to enhance their performance by increasing confidence in their singing ability.
Mark said: “Music is incredibly important for young people – it’s about creativity, about working together, it’s about decision making and pushing past the boundaries that you see in front of you. we should continue to make throughout our lives!”
The sessions took place over four days, and 11 schools across Somerset took part along with members of the County Youth Choir.
The schools were: Court Fields School in Wellington, The Castle School and Bishop Fox’s in Taunton, Robert Blake Science College, Bridgwater, Oakfield Middle School and Frome College in Frome, King Alfred’s School in Burnham-on-Sea, St Dunstan’s School in Glastonbury, Ansford Academy in Castle Cary and Buckler’s Mead Academy and Westfield Academy in Yeovil.
Somerset Music’s Deputy Director, Kirsten Wordley, said: “The Department for Education allocates funding to each Music Hub to deliver on the National Plan for Music, and we’d encourage schools to explore what we have to offer.
“In it there are seven roles for music delivery, a Singing Strategy is one of the core roles, and last month’s event is part of the offer for the county.
“I was thrilled to be able to book Mark De-Lisser to deliver the event for this year as he has such a passion for singing and is inspirational in the work that he does. The event gave pupils access to an opportunity that they would not normally be able to participate in.”
This event was one of many opportunities available throughout the year as part of the singing strategy including the countywide Singing Festivals in June and July. Both teachers and children are still talking about the recent visit and are now using the repertoire and choral techniques in practice.