Young gymnasts join in with Rock Choir

Rock Choir Rock Stars Half Term Workshops- A Review

{GIFTED} When Mr F and Mr S were given the opportunity to join the Rock Choir Rock Stars for their half term workshop in February, they both jumped at the chance. Outside of gymnastics, one thing they both really enjoy doing is singing; and since joining a real choir isn’t possible at the moment, an online, virtual choir is the next best thing!

What is Rock Choir?

Rock Choir describe themselves as “the largest contemporary choir in the world.” The choir was created in 2005, and has won many awards since it began almost 16 years ago. Rock Choir is a life-line for many, and the positive impact it makes on well-being and mental health using singing, music and friendship has changed lives- they are proud to support individuals and communities in hundreds of towns across the country. During lockdown, Rock Choir has been offering a range of workshops and online events to connect with the British Public, focussing its efforts mainly on mental health to support the charities and services who are under pressure at this time [information taken from Rock Choir promotional materials].

The Workshops

The boys concentrating hard on their Rock Choir workshop

During February half term, the Rock Choir team invited children aged 6-16 to take part in online virtual singing workshops, where they learnt and recorded their own fabulous version of True Colours, as sung by Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick in the 2016 film Trolls. As this is a large age range, the children were split into the Rock Choir Juniors (age 6-11) and Rock Choir Teens (age 12-16) for their workshops. The children attended 50-minute workshops in their age groups on Wednesday and Thursday of half term week, and then on Friday both groups came together to record the final version of the song, along with all of the other Rock Choir regions who had been rehearsing separately throughout the week.

The workshop for our region was led by the lovely Kathryn Davis, who built a great rapport with all of the children right from the first workshop. She even learned the names of everyone on the call, even though one of the requirements for taking part was that names were visible on the Zoom screen. I know that she really had learned the children’s names, because when one child changed his screen name to something funny on day two, Kathryn was able to use his actual name to gently remind him to change it back again!

The children on the calls were taught their parts (Mr F and Mr S were altos), and they then practised the song in short, easily remembered chunks. At 6, Mr S found the pace a bit too quick at times- mostly because he couldn’t read the words on the screen fast enough. However, Mr F -who is 9- had no trouble with it at all, and learnt the musical arrangement fairly easily.

After each session, the children were given access to a private tutorial videos via Youtube, which showed Kathryn conducting that day’s section of the song for them to practice. Both boys were keen to do the extra prep, even though they don’t always like doing extra work at home!

They learnt some simple signs to go along with the lyrics

On the day of the final workshop, the Rock Choir leaders from all over the country came together to take a hand in running the large group session involving all of the children. The group played games to warm up their voices, sang silly songs to help the children relax, and then set about recording the full song. Even though there were so many children on the Zoom call, it was well led by Kathryn, and all of the children seemed to be really having fun. I felt quite emotional when she announced that the recording was complete, and the workshop was over!

After the last workshop I helped the boys to record their voices, following the simple, clear instructions given in the participant information booklet, and then sent it in to the Rock Choir leaders, who combined it with everyone’s else’s recordings to produce the finished pop song and accompanying video created from the workshops. We, along with all of the other participants, were then emailed the final recording, allowing everyone to see and hear their amazing efforts as a full virtual choir! You can watch it by clicking here – look out for Mr F rocking his Nile Wilson T-shirt!

Our Verdict

When I asked Mr F and Mr S if they’d like to take part in a Rock Choir Rock Stars workshop again, their response was “yes, definitely!”

The effort involved in producing a virtual event of this size is incredible, and the dedication of all of the leaders shone through on the Zoom calls- every leader wanted to make sure that each child was having a great time, whilst also performing to the very best of their ability. For a child who loves singing, a Rock Choir Rock Stars would be a fantastic opportunity, particularly during lockdown when we are all looking for ways to help our children stay connected with their peers.

Places on Rock Choir workshops are limited. To find out more about Rock Choir, or to purchase tickets for future events, click on the following link: rockchoir.com

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