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November 5th, 2010 - A New Choral Director in Leeds
A New Choral Director in Leeds

A New Choral Director in Leeds



The newest member of the music department staff is Lucy Haigh. She explains a little about her background and new role here:

Having spent the last five years working with young choirs in Perth, Western Australia (and previously, 14 years as Director of The Hildegard Choir for talented girls in Oxford), I was looking to return to the UK to take up a Cathedral post.  I had also become increasingly interested in the idea of outreach and had followed the Diocese of Leeds' Music Programme via the internet with great interest.  I was delighted to join the team of Choral Directors and commenced my new position at the beginning of September. 

I now visit 11 primary schools (and one secondary school) every week and spend an hour at each one.  The job is enormous fun: even more so than I could have imagined!  The schools vary a great deal: some children have virtually no singing experience, while others sing all the time.  Usually, I teach whole classes, but in one school, I have been asked to form an elite chamber choir.  I aim to enthuse all of the children - even the reluctant singers- while improving their vocal and musical skills.  I use fun warm-ups, musical games and a wide variety of repertoire including hymns, folk songs and Taize chants.  I prepare the children for events such as assemblies, masses, concerts and carol services.  I often find that the boys need special attention, so I have strategies to engage them.  These include using a ball as part of a singing game, teaching plenty of ‘masculine' songs such as sea shanties, and allocating parts according to which football team they support.  Fortunately, these activities also seem to work with the girls!

I am also at the Cathedral most days, helping out with whatever is necessary.  This can include assisting with training and supervision of the Girls' and Boys' Choirs, singing alto with the Adult Choir and conducting the various choirs when needed.  Another important part of my role is ‘talent spotting' for the Cathedral while I am working in the primary schools.  I try to monitor individuals quite closely: not easy when I see well over 500 children each week!  Solo singing is part of every lesson - I made it a normal expectation from the start, and most children take part willingly.  I am now establishing two new Junior Choirs at the Cathedral for boys and girls of age seven upwards, to begin rehearsals in January.  These choirs will train the children's voices and ears, prepare them for membership of the main Cathedral Choirs and generally foster their love of singing.

My first two months with the Diocese of Leeds Music Department have been immensely enjoyable and rewarding.  I was thrilled when a Year 5 boy from the inner city recently told his class ‘I didn't used to like singing, but I love it now!'



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