Singing their hearts out

PUBLISHED: 18:21 08 October 2008 | UPDATED: 15:28 25 August 2010

LAUNCH: X-Factor star Andy Abraham joined the pupils on stage.

LAUNCH: X-Factor star Andy Abraham joined the pupils on stage.

THOUSANDS of children and community groups are set to benefit from a free borough-wide singing scheme.

THOUSANDS of children and community groups are set to benefit from a free borough-wide singing scheme.

Greenwich Theatre teamed up with Last Choir Standing's Sense of Sound to launch Sing Up Greenwich last Friday, a 15-month programme open to all Greenwich schools and groups.

Greenwich will be the first London borough to take part in the Sing Up scheme, a government funded programme aimed at primary school children.

Executive director of the theatre, James Haddrell, said: "If children don't feel comfortable in the theatre at a young age, we have a lot of work to do trying to get them interested later.

"Going to the theatre when you are 14 to see a bad production of Macbeth with school will just leave kids asking 'what's this?'

"But there is also a real community cohesion to this that I have always been interested in."

Liverpool-based singing company Sense of Sound, who featured in BBC's Last Choir Standing, will provide singing tutors for the project.

Its London-based artistic director Juliet Russell said: "We work mainly a cappella and use singing as a tool of empowerment."

Funding for the scheme lasts until the end of 2009, but by that time Mr Haddrell hopes to have generated enough interest and choirs to keep it going indefinitely.

Teachers will also be trained under the scheme to encourage teaching singing in the borough, whilst by 2010 some 2,000 children should have benefited from the scheme.

Year Four pupils from Brooklands Primary School, Blackheath, performed at Greenwich Theatre for the launch, having practiced singing exercises combined with games.

The launch was also attended by X-Factor star Andy Abraham, a singing dustman who made second place on the 2005 show and this year represented Britain in the Eurovision Song Contest.

The 44-year-old former Sense of Sound student said: "Singing will help the children become independent, assertive and confident.

"It's is not just about how they feel on stage, but in life. I think anyone can sing with training and discovering you have a talent can make someone feel wonderful."

Sing Up Greenwich will hold 100 taster sessions over the next six months, sending tutors to schools and also inviting groups to the theatre in Crooms Hill, Greenwich.

Pupils will be given a grounding in musical theory and practical singing, including harmonies, breathing exercises, and rhythm.

To apply to take part in Sing Up Greenwich contact Susan Winter at Greenwich Theatre on 020 8858 4447 or email

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