What's the best way to cheer up Monday morning? Burst into song, of course. And if you fear that that might frighten the horses, let other people, expertly nurtured in the skills and disciplines necessary to make a beautiful collective sound, sing to you instead.
Schoolsong 2000 filled London's Royal Festival Hall and Queen Elizabeth Hall with soaring voices for a whole day last week. Directed by Larry Westland of Music for Youth and supported by the National Union of Teachers, this national festival presented 21 junior and 20 senior choirs chosen from 13 preliminary Schoolsong Festivals in which 12,000 children took part.
All kinds of music andevery style of performance from part-songs to madrigals, spirituals to canticles,ballads, anthems and a cappella kept the South Bank audiences riveted. I got no more than a taste, but can report a very high standard indeed.
Livia Harris brought 105 seven to 11-year-olds from New End school in the London borough of Camden to sing a set including "I'll be there for you", better known as the theme from Friends, and "Rock 'n'Roll Party Tonight". This was a case where energy and enthusiasm was communicated almost tangibly by an energetic young teacher who encourages all comers to join the choir, believing that everyone can learn to sing. On this showing she seems to have been proved right.
Priory primary school chamber choir from Slough, green-gowned and serious, coped admirably with an ambitious programme which included "Gaudete", an extract from Stabat Mater and "Dancing Song" by Kod ly. Fully representing the diversity of the school which is multi-ethnic and integrated, the choir made some exquisite sounds, especially when unaccompanied.
Among the seniors, A Cappella from Eastbrook school, Dagenham, Essex, tackled both Lennon and McCartney ("Yesterday") and Purcell ("Thou Knowest Lord"). One young man bravely (and good-humouredly) joined 18 female colleagues in this group which has already produced a CD and travelled to Poland, Germany and Belgium since it began two years ago.
Schoolsong 2000 celebrated the commitment of teachers as much as the talent of the young singers. And, with 277 school choirs reportedly giving "wonderfulperformances" during the country-wide festivals, wecan assume that there is quite a number of inspiring ones out there.
Information about this event and Music for Youth projects: 0181 870 9624. Schoolsong 2000 is sponsored by the Bank of Scotland and CGU in association with the British Federation of Youth Choirs, in conjunction with the Association of British Choral Directors.
By the way, music teachers might like to make a note of Howard Goodall'sBig Bangs, a series charting "the five seismic moments in Western classical music" to be broadcast on Channel 4, beginning on March 12.
The institution of a Holocaust memorial day may be less useful to younger generations than continued reading of Anne Frank's diary. Classworks Theatre is at the Gatehouse, Highgate, in London until Sunday before beginning a tour of schools and other venues with their play And Then They Came for Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank. This is a multi-media play which interweaves video-taped recollections of Holocaust survivors Ed Silverberg and Eva Geiringer Schloss with actors recreating scenes from their lives during the Second World War. Ed was a boyfriend of Anne Frank,Eva married Otto Frank, Anne's father, after thewar and has been helpingthe company put the piece together. For informationand tour details, tel: 01223 461901.
Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf beat J K Rowling's Harry Potter to the Whitbread Book of the Year Award last month. Now hundreds of children in Lambeth schools are to have the opportunity to exercise their own creativity in response to Heaney's poetry.
A pound;43,000 project, funded by Lambeth Education Action Zone and created by theRoyal Festival Hall's performing arts education team,will allow pupils from Stockwell Park and Lilian Baylis schools to work with film-makers and poets on their own Beowulf-inspired pieces. They will be premiered during Poetry International in October.
Fans of Eric Hill's Spot will be able to see their doggy hero on stage in Spot's Birthday Party, adaptedby veteran children's playwright David Wood. The Oxford Playhouse tourbegins in April in Oxford.Tel: 01865 798600 I was going to try to keep the ubiquitous William offthe page for once, but you can't keep a good millennial poet down. At Shakespeare's Globe a comprehensive exhibition with information and interactive displays about Shakespeare's life and work and theatre practice both in the 16th century and in the reconstructed Globe opens this week. Information: 0171 902 1500 and see next week's English magazine in the TES.
An EdexcelShakespeare's Globe teachers' in-service day will take place at the Globe on February 10. Entitled "Putting Shakespeare on its Feet", it is aimed at teachers of GCSE, A-level and key stage 3, includes workshops on the stage and costs pound;90, including lunch. Bookings: 0171 873 6608 or email@example.com.
And, if you haven't discovered it yet, try Talking to Shakespeare, the learnfree website (www.learnfree.co.uktalkingto) which enables you to put questions about his life and works to the great man himself. He will reply within a few days.