Friday, 25th February 2022

Sunderland Young Vocal Leaders together with NYC members and project leaders Luke Mather (NYCGB) and Laura Taylor (Sunderland Music Hub) at the start of the programme in September 2021 - Photography: Lizzie Nixon

NYCGB's Learning & Engagement programme has been working with Sunderland Music Hub to establish a young vocal leadership programme for 16-20 year olds in the city. 

Starting in September 2021, the project which is part of local strategy to create a new youth choir in Sunderland, has provided a valuable opportunity for talented young people to learn new leadership skills, build their confidence and self-esteem, and raise their creative aspirations.  

NYCGB supported Sunderland Music Hub in developing this new programme, as part of the Gillian Dickinson Young Singers Programme: North East. Sessions were led jointly by NYCGB staff and the Hub's vocal lead, and included visits by peer mentors from the National Youth Choir of Great Britain. The nine young vocal leaders taking part in the programme have excelled through the weeks, embracing pitch patterning, conducting and even Kodály hand signs, and their own confidence levels have significantly increased.

Sunderland's Young Vocal Leaders being coached by Luke Mather (NYCGB) in October 2021 - Photography: Laura Taylor

Here's what some of the young vocal leaders themselves said:

I just feel that I can take those skills, not just the skills that we’ve learnt about like Kodaly or all the other things that we’ve done, but more the skills about having a right to have a voice and say things and have ideas.

It’s been so much fun, it’s given me loads of tools and things I can take with me. I’m really excited about the Sunderland Youth Choir.

Graduates of the Young Vocal Leaders programme at rehearsal with Sunderland Youth Choir in December 2021 - Photography: Liam Huitson

In December 2021 the young vocal leaders started work as section leaders with the newly formed Sunderland Youth Choir which is open to all young singers across the city: 

NYCGB will continue to support this emerging ensemble led by Laura Taylor on behalf of Sunderland Music Hub and the newly trained young vocal leaders.

Lizzie Nixon, Sunderland Music Hub Manager

Sunderland has been without a city youth choir for almost two decades. We are delivering a great deal of singing activity in schools and meeting excellent young singers who have no progression route outside of school. In a post-pandemic Sunderland, we feel the need to start the youth choir is even greater to enable opportunities for young people to meet with others, form relationships, develop their communication, confidence, self-esteem and have opportunities that have been sorely missing during the Covid pandemic.

Charlotte Galloway, National Youth Choir member and peer mentor in the Sunderland project

Being from and having grown up in Sunderland I felt it super important to get involved in this project. And I have absolutely loved it! Not just because I’ve been able to play a part in sharing the joy of NYCGB with others, but also because it has made me feel more at home and included in this organisation through working in my home town, and it has given me a stronger sense of belonging. It has also been amazing to watch the young leaders develop whilst working with them, socially and musically, and know that we’ve played a part in that.

This project is kindly supported by the Gillian Dickinson Trust as part of NYCGB's Gillian Dickinson Young Singers Programme: North East, and by the Holbeck Charitable Trust.

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