Courage to Sing

Well it’s that time of year again. Time that is for this year’s Gareth Malone documentary on teaching the world to sing. Well, not the world but some of the most deprived areas of Britain and some of the most disinterested individuals in singing. Yet with   his ventures, he has changed lives and brightened communities forever.

He started with a school outside london and got them as far as a global Choir Competition in China. He got singers from a boy’s school that prided itself on its sporting excellence to the Albert Hall and he took a community choir from dysfunctional ‘new town’ to the Barbican.

Yet despite past successes, each series starts with his dispiriting tour of youth clubs, pubs and schools trying to drum up volunteers who want to sing. This not only takes the fortitude of an evangelical Jehovah’s Witness but also the courage of British Tommies going over the top at the Somme. For example, who can forget him singing a Handel solo to the morning school assembly full of cynical and street-wise kids?

But as each programme unfolds, Gareth is not the only one displaying unadulterated courage, so do the would-be singers that he invariably finds in the least likely places. Many do not make it through. But for those who do we see them changing before our eyes. because, maybe for the first time in their lives, they have found something inspiring, something they want to do and something that is their own. Few will become the Alfie’s & Brin’s of tomorrow, but each will have a better tomorrow.

Nevertheless, the current series – taking teenagers through to singing an opera at Glynebourne – calls for courage from some other people. Since many who attend opera at this expensive venue, will have preconceived ideas of youth. They too will need to have the courage to to be challenged and changed as they are invited into the youngsters’ better tomorrow. For as Oliver Wendell Homes said -‘Man’s mind stretched to a new idea never goes back to its original dimensions’ .

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