Youth choir gets off on a high note at inaugural rehearsal

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The recently established Youth Arran Soul Choir got off to a good start last week at their first rehearsal which not only showed a great deal of promise but also a few future stars.

The junior version of the well established Arran Soul Choir welcomed 17 new members whose first foray into singing as a junior choir sounded as cohesive as that of a long-established one.

Run by James O’Neil, Moyra Manson, Shirley MacLachlan and Michael Gettings, the young singers aged from P5 age to 15-years-old’s were told that the emphasis was on having fun and enjoyment before immediately plunging into practicing their singing as a group.

Music which ranged from classic and soul to pop, was provided in a songbook which children were encouraged to take home with them to practice and they were encouraged to add their own suggestions which they would like to sing at future rehearsals.

As many of the young singers are at school with each other, or their parents are involved in the adult choir, they impressed their tutors with pitch perfect and harmonious renditions of the songs that they all seemed to be familiar with, through school, their parents, or the charts.

James O’Neil who was the faculty head of the Arran High music department said: ‘One of my first memories on Arran was watching a primary choir performance of ‘Ocean Commotion’ co-ordinated by Lorna Buchanan-Hollingsworth in 2015. I knew then that vocal music was important with young people on the island. I also had opportunity to engage young people on singing throughout my time teaching in schools, amidst the range of wider opportunities for vocal music; pantos and festivals and soon recognised that a weekly, regular non-school based choir opportunity was missing which provided the impetus.

‘I have been fascinated by the legendary Arran Junior Chorus led by the late Tony Smith and recently heard cassette tape recordings. Whilst this choir may provide a new opportunity for young people to come together to sing, in context, it is a respectful nod to the past whilst looking excitedly to the future.

‘Wellbeing is at the front of everyday lives for young people and we know that singing increases skills, self-esteem and confidence so I am hoping this is a group that are going to be proud of the work they do and will have the opportunity to show this off in and around the communities they live.

‘We had a fantastic first rehearsal with 17 young people from across most of the island schools. A great sound and a friendly bunch keen to get going. Hopefully this will grow too, everyone is welcome to join in, regardless of ability or how often they are able to attend.’

Anyone that is interested in meeting up and singing is invited to join the no-pressure, supportive and fun environment on Thursday evenings between 6pm and 6.45 pm at the Arran High School Theatre.


Choir members learn a fun Congolese folk song called Banaha. 01_B39choir01

In full voice choir members sing familiar songs. 01_B39choir02

Who knows this song : singers raise their hands. 01_B39choir03

The choir gather around the piano played by James O’Neil. 01_B39choir04

Members sing along to popular songs without the need for the words in the songbook. 01_B39choir05

Tutor Shirley MacLachlan adds her voice to the young singers. 01_B39choir06

Choir members enjoy the up-tempo songs and sing them enthusiastically. 01_B39choir07

Tutor James O’Neil guides the young singers and plays the piano. 01_B39choir08

Michael Gettings and Moyra Manson familiarise themselves with some of the song lyrics. 01_B39choir09