The Diocese of Leeds Schools Singing Programme is recognised as the UK’s leading choral education programme, striving to make outstanding singing tuition, music education and performance opportunities accessible to children and young people in communities which are least likely to encounter them. The programme reaches over 6,000 children each week, both during and outside the school day in over 150 choral groups, including boys’ and girls’ choirs in Bradford, Harrogate, Huddersfield, Keighley, Pontefract, Ripon and Wakefield, together with the six choirs of Leeds Cathedral.
We focus on areas of social marginalisation and economic deprivation, striving to offer the highest-quality musical opportunities in those communities which are least likely to encounter them. Our Choral Directors work in 70 state schools, enthusing over the benefits gained to children in academic and behavioural outcomes. Whilst our work is closely linked to the Diocese’s programme of evangelisation, there is no requirement of faith and we work with young people from all faiths and none. Choral music is able to provide an excellent standard of musical training and inspiration that brings people together.
To date, our Programme has inspired over 35,000 young people between aged 5–21. Many progress through our system of after-school choirs rehearsing weekly and singing regularly at Leeds Cathedral and other prestigious venues. Last year, our choirs broadcast three liturgies on BBC Radio 3 and 4, performed on Songs of Praise on BBC One, and took part in the Gabrieli Consort’s Roar project at Ely Cathedral. Our team frequently advises other UK and American institutions on the establishment and ongoing management of sustainable music programmes for young people, and since 2021, has led the National Schools Singing Programme.
‘I joined Bradford Youth Choir at 9 years old. During my 7 years as a choir member I had the opportunity to travel to Germany, take part in many competitions and make life long friends and memories. BYC inspired me and nurtured me as a musician and led me to Leeds College of Music where I am currently studying for a degree.’
Schools Singing Programme Alumni
‘I’ve been here at the cathedral for the last seven and half years, one of the Choral Directors came into my primary school and asked if I would like to join the Children’s Choir and I’ve been here ever since. Singing in the Cathedral Choirs has definitely made me more confident, I’ve built the confidence to sing in front of other people and I think that translates across because now I feel a lot more comfortable to talk in front of other people as well…I’ve made some great friends here and I’d love to become a scholar in the adult choir.’
Girls’ Choir Member, 15 years old.
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