Monday, 7 March 2016

The Norland College Choir

Elizabeth Kerry
Norland Diploma Lecturer

In the autumn semester of 2008, Norland College received an invitation from the front of house manager at the Millennium Stadium Cardiff. The production of Mary Poppins, produced by Cameron Mackintosh was due to open in Cardiff in March 2009 and the invitation was for the choir to sing in the foyer of The Millennium Stadium, at a press night.

What a wonderful opportunity. The only problem was that the college did not have a choir. The then Principal, Thirza Ashleford, contacted Grenville Jones, well know choirmaster of various choirs in the South West of England, and asked if he would take up the challenge to form a Norland choir in less than 5 months. Grenville agreed and students were asked to volunteer.  No auditions would be necessary, just a love of singing and commitment to rehearsals. 

Choir performing at Millennuim Stadium

The choir did sing in the Millennium Stadium and were treated to complimentary seats to watch the production. I even managed to sweet talk the gentleman in charge of the roundabout outside the stadium to gift the students a free ride! What a role reversal, nannies on the roundabout being watched by passing children. 

The choir, now formed for over 8 years has, to use a cliché, “gone from strength to strength” we have kept the ethos that all are welcome and auditions are not held.
Traditionally, the choir perform at Bath’s Christmas Market, Norland College Christmas celebrations and other annual college events.

In October 2015 the choir were delighted to take part in an annual concert held in Bath Abbey to raise funds for the work of the National Osteoporosis Society, singing with other choirs as well as showcasing their own harmonious singing.

Choir performing at Bath Abbey
Grenville has recently put our choir forward to enter the Ladies’ class at the Mid Somerset festival on Saturday March 12th 2016. Who knows where that will lead?

As a Norlander, I am delighted to be the staff link with the choir. Music is important to me in my adult life, it may make me feel good about myself, make me laugh, or make me cry. Usually the latter when I hear the pure voices of our choir blending together.

Music is a common denominator for those of us who have the gift of hearing. Through music children will explore emotions and enhance all areas of their development. Often turning audio stimulation into creativity. Jeff A. Johnson in his book Babies in the Rain states that “The rhythms, patterns and repetition of music make singing a valuable language development tool. Small children should not only be exposed to recorded music, they should have ample opportunities to hear live music and sing”

I think it is important that we as practitioners remember that babies, infants and children do not mind or even take notice that we always sing in tune with the correct breathing, we should just have fun with our voices, and theirs.