Around 750 children and their families from primary schools across St Albans and Harpenden took part in the recent
Sing St Albans project – the results of which can be seen in this fantastic video.

All Hertfordshire-based primary schools have access to our platform through our partners Hertfordshire Music Service and Let Your Spirit Fly (written by Charanga’s Head of Learning, Joanna Mangona) was considered the perfect song for the massed virtual project.

Improving students’ well-being

‘We wanted to bring the community together through the power of music,’ explains Rachel Curson, Head of St Albans Music School. ‘When children were learning music online at home, we noticed they somehow felt happier when taking part in a collective activity.’

‘Singing Let Your Spirit Fly was perfect as it was accessible and appealed to both Key Stage 1 and 2 pupils and tapped into their positive feelings of well-being. Having lots of different activities centred around the song allowed teachers to deliver a block of weekly activities around it too – composing, improvising and performing on instruments, as well as singing.’

Online training

A series of online CPD sessions organised by Hertfordshire Music Service enabled participants to learn the song. The workshop leader demonstrated how best to teach singing remotely and worked through the additional supporting activities provided. Teachers explored the different ways they might use the song collaboratively.

Learning to improvise

‘Let Your Spirit Fly is ideal for beginners to develop confidence in improvising,’ explained Julie Bull, Music Coordinator at the Grove Junior School in Harpenden. ‘The song’s tempo is not too fast, so the pupils can keep up with the backing track. The improvisation activity suggests a range of notes, each fitting in with the song’s harmonies. Providing the pupils with a set of notes means they know their ideas will “work”, and this gives them the confidence to be creative with their melodic phrases and patterns. Once they feel confident, they can then develop skills in recognising for themselves which notes fit in with a piece of music.’

Capturing pupils’ imagination

It was clear that capturing pupils’ imagination and organising a big online event – supported and promoted weekly on local station Radio Verulam – motivated them to engage further with homeschooling.

‘I loved learning the song and thought it was a really good idea while we were in lockdown,’ said Isabelle, a Year 6 student at Margaret Wix Primary School. ‘I really enjoyed singing with the whole school every week – even though I was at home! It was really fun recording the song, and I loved every minute of it!’

‘We were overwhelmed with the number of pupils who took part,’ says Rachel. ‘We particularly enjoyed watching siblings sing together and small numbers of pupils singing together in outdoor spaces, facilitated by parents. We estimate around 5,000 pupils would have sung the song at home over the course of lockdown – well beyond all our expectations!’

Next steps

Schools across Hertfordshire are now keen to be involved in the ‘next project’ and are using more of the performance projects to create their own virtual and live performances. Plans for a virtual choir are also underway where pupils across the city can connect at home.

‘This project brought us all together, enabling schools to connect with each other for support as well,’ Rachel told us.

Accessing Charanga

While all primary schools in Hertfordshire can access the Charanga platform free, this varies elsewhere. Visit this page to get a quote or order your licence. Alternatively, why not start a 30-day complimentary trial? There’s no obligation to subscribe afterwards and we won’t take any payment details.