Young Voices

Why do young people like singing? There are may reasons – a sense of achievement, a sense of belonging to a group, a sense of feeling good, a sense of pride……..

What benefits do children get from singing other than those above? Singing develops many skills – concentration, focus, linguistic skills, creative skills, social skills, number skills in very young children, building better relationships and musicality.

All our projects and activity with young people help to develop the skills and senses that we list above. The majority of our singing with young people is for those under 13 – and we are always very pleased when project evaluations reveal that we have achieved the targets we set out to reach.

More musical fun…

Sing Up

Youth Music

Youth Music Bongo Club (for very young)

Ellington Memorial Project

Earlier this year we set up and managed a small project on behalf of Ellington Memorial Steering Group.  They had raised the funding for a piece of public art to commemorate the closing of the last coal mine in Northumberland.  As part of the project they also raised funding for a number of community events and initiatives.  One of these was to work with the 3 local first schools in Ellington, Lynemouth and Linton.

Our project, led by Kat Davidson and Ian McKone, focused on learning traditional songs linked to mining, which some of the children then performed at the unveiling event in November. One of the songs had been composed by Kat, setting the words of a poem by a young Durham miner.  Then in January all the schools worked with Kat Davidson and wrote their own songs about mining.  They all came together in February to share the songs they had written and invited members of the steering group to join them.

Ian McKone wrote an article for our newsletter, and said: “These songs generated a lot of discussion about the area’s pride in its heritage and also the dangers of working down the pit – the children were bright and perceptive, a pleasure to work with.”

Family Music

Our Family Music project, which grew out of the work we have done for Sing Up and Youth Music, has reached more families in Northumberland in the past 12 months.  Each project is tailored carefully to the location and any existing groups we are working with.

We have just finished working with families in Hexham and the North Tyne Valley on a wonderful project called Sing and Play, funded by Youth Music.  To find out more about this project visit the Sing and Play webpage

During 2009-11 we worked with children and families at Ashington and Rothbury Sure Start, Harbottle Toddler group and the Elsdon “Singin’ Hinnies”.  The work mostly followed a similar pattern – which included work in the settings with the children, and parents if present.  Depending on the location we delivered between 3 and 7 sessions in each setting.  However, we also presented special Family Music Events in each area, where extended families could come to sing together. Many of these were led by Jane Harland and Kathy Anderson. Our half-term event in Ashington was a great success, with over 40 children attending with various family members.  Families from Lynemouth Sure Start came by bus to join the event.  The Family Music event in Elsdon attracted 24 children and 19 adults, including two birthday party groups!  The singing and playing was wonderful, with everyone joining in.  Our event has inspired the Singin’ Hinnies leader, Alison Simmance, to introduce new repertoire to the group and to order more musical instruments to support the singing.

We also worked with Sure Start Blyth and Brambles Nursery in Amble – and both these projects culminated in a Family Music Event.  Also in Blyth and Amble there was training for early years practitioners, giving them ideas and skills in leading and developing singing with young children.

Sing Up – The Music Manifesto’s National Singing Campaign

20,000 Voices has just finished running a programme of work funded by the Hearts and Minds strand of Sing Up. Four first schools in Northumberland worked with us to explore how singing benefits young children in the Foundation Stages and Key Stage 1.  Each school had a leader who visited for a day each week, working with each class individually and also running a singing session with the whole school.  Parents were invited to join in with the project – they came to share what the children had been doing – they went away singing and humming the favourite songs.  The project also included training for teachers and leaders.  For more information about Sing Up why not visit their website?

Choppington-3 children with guitar.jpg

Early Years Cluster Programme

Youth Music have provided funding for many wonderful projects for young people around England, and have been supporting the benefits of music for young children consistently for several years.

20,000 Voices has been working with Sure Start Children’s Centres in North Northumberland and Bedlington in a total of 10 settings. The programme is managed by Anne Suggate, Song Manager of 20,000 Voices and led by Margaret Watchorn as lead trainer.

Jane Little Green Frog.jpgSix leaders, 5 instrumental trainees and 10 settings took part and the first sessions started during the week beginning 17th September.  The first session at St Bede’s Childminders and Toddler group was challenging – as 29 under 3s and 20 parents and carers arrived for the session.  The children enjoyed a range of songs – familiar and new, and also games with a giant parachute.  A favourite song was The Little Green Frog.  In Wooler, a smaller group enjoyed working outside – moving and singing to the beat of a djembe and sound of the trumpet.  Circle songs followed and introduced Fluffy (Anne’s black cat puppet, who lives in the magic music box) to the fascinated children.

Bedlington-boy-with-xylopho.jpgTwo more training sessions took place in October.  The first was led by Nancy Evans, who was a key mover in the pilot project, and the ensuing training framework.  She will particularly focus on delivering music sessions to individual children.  At the second we welcomed Sandra Kerr, who introduced some of her favourite repertoire to the team.   Each training session also included a chance for the team to exchange their views on the project, and share ideas that worked really well.

Our final CPD session on Friday 14 December drew together people’s experience of the project.  Most of these were really positive.  Leaders, instrumentalists and practitioners also came up with some interesting requests for further work and support.  We spent January and February completing evaluation reports, holding two overall evaluation meetings and planning our what next campaign.  Choppington-Kathy&violinboy.jpg

As the year progresses we will be looking at ways of disseminating information about the programme, as well as beginning to put together a resource pack for the settings that took part, but also for other settings and organisations who would like to use some of our ideas to deliver work with early years groups.  The resource pack will be available in early summer – if you would like a copy please contact us.

01665 606280

Noye’s Fludde

Noye’s Fludde, by Benjamin Britten, is the most amazing work for young people to experience, especially as it requires them to perform alongside professional singers and instrumentalists.

The productions in Sunderland Minster in Feburary were captured in some wonderful photographs by Mark Savage.


Music in the Minster which was responsible for the production is now looking at ways they can continue to provide such opportunities for young people in Sunderland and the surrounding area.


20,000 Voices will be working closely with the Music in the Minster committee to develop new work which complements other activities taking place in the district.

Singing with Boys

We have been developing and encouraging boys’ singing for a number of years, including 3 projects funded by Youth Music.

We are now in the process of establishing a regular choir in Alnwick. Alnwick Boys’ Choir, or ABC for short, was set up following our most recent project with boys. There are currently about 20 members, and we hope to develop their skills, increase the repertoire, and to give many performances.



Alnwick Boys Choir performing at Woodhorn
Photo Dan Brady

For more information about ABC visit our projects page.

Festivals of Singing

In a rural area such as Northumberland, schools are often quite small, and opportunities to sing with a large choir are limited. 20,000 Voices has worked in collaboration with groups of schools and local venues to present Festivals of Song, at which small groups from individual schools come together to form a large choir, which performs at a series of workshops and a concert. In March last year, in partnership with Northumberland Music Service, we presented a Festival at Ashington High School. Children from first and middle schools sang a range of songs about the town – it’s people, it’s heritage and it’s future, while a band from the high school also performed to a packed audience of family and friends.

Early Years

Garyjump-web-edited.jpgWe worked with Bedlington District Sure Start recently, presenting a cross arts project to children in the Foundation stage in 8 first schools. The children sang, moved, listened to stories, made puppets and hung from a trapeze in interactive workshops led by professional singers and other artists. This work really developed the skills and confidence of the children involved. We will be working on a Youth Music Early Years Cluster Programme this autumn, providing an exciting new programme of work with Sure Start Children’s Centres.

We are also looking for opportunities to work with other early years settings in Northumberland.