We’ve carried on watching The Choir over the past couple of weeks, and although it’s been enjoyable, and it’s great to see the progress, the programme has followed a familiar path with Gareth pulling together a choir. Although it’s been frustrating at times, Gareth himself summed it up pretty well this week when he said that it’s pretty straightforward to pull a choir together with a good group of interested boys.
However, his stated aim is not only to get a good choir, but to get a ‘singing school’. Back in the first episode he had a notable failure with Imran, one of the boys who although he had a great voice, was part of the playground MC’s, a group of boys who beatbox and rap, and are obviously pretty musically talented, but have no interest in the sort of conventional music that Gareth is exploring with the choir.
This week though came a breakthrough. In order to try and get the MC’s interested, he brought them along to a workshop run by Sense of Sound (you can also hear more of their music on their Myspace Page), and watching the faces of the boys – especially Imran – was great. Sense of Sound although being a choir, blended the kind of beatboxing techniques the boys were using, and really piqued their interest. They followed that up with starting another choir at the school following the kind of style that Sense of Sound had demonstrated – getting boys were were otherwise disconnected from the new singing culture in the school connected, and getting Imran to actually sing.
The fundamental point it underlines is that you need to be clear whether you are trying to get music into the lives of young people, or your kind of music into their lives. It somewhat echoes with the announcement earlier in the week that schoolchildren were being promised ‘quality culture’. Having heard the announcement, the real danger in that is although you interest some, it is very easy to disconnect others by labelling their kind of music, art or whatever as not ‘quality culture’. What the programme last night showed was that if you make an effort to connect with their culture, rather than trying to shoehorn kids into your culture, you actually get somewhere, and the young people go from the singing is boring, to actually singing and taking part.