Thameside Schools Music Association, currently chaired by Rosemary Dymond, has been running a Recorder Festival and a Choral Festival every year since around the 1940s. The organisation is made up of the group of schools who book places on the Recorder and/or Choral Festivals in any given year. The purpose of the TSMA festivals is to bring local young people from many different backgrounds together to enjoy singing and playing in a large ensemble and to enable them to experience performing in large music venues. In 2017, TSMA began organising the festivals in partnership with Kent Music to help ensure that the festivals can continue for years to come.
The rehearsals and performances were held at St George’s Church in the town centre on the 19th and 20th June and in the new Eastgate venue on 25th June. Around 250 pupils took part in the Choral Festival over the three days, representing Cobham Primary School, Shears Green Junior School, Manor Community Primary School, Higham Primary School, Istead Rise Primary School, Shorne C of E Primary School, St Joseph’s Convent Preparatory School, Cecil Road Primary School, Lawn Community Primary School and Painters Ash Primary School. Karen Barton-Holman provided a piano accompaniment and Richard Lock joined the events in the evening to accompany on the double bass.
The pupils and teachers worked hard to learn the songs beforehand before coming together to take part in a day of rehearsals followed by an evening performance to families and invited guests. We were delighted to welcome the Deputy Mayor Cllr Lesley Boycott and her escort Cllr William Lambert to the performance on the 20th June. As well as singing as a massed choir, each school performed their own choice of song. The audience were treated to a wonderful variety of individual school songs including some popular items from The Greatest Showman!
“I think the Choral Festival helps educationally in so many ways. It supports children's ability to sing in large groups, perform to an audience and develop their ability to sing a range of music in a range of genres. It builds their confidence and they absolutely love showcasing their ideas and their abilities in the concert. For children who find learning challenging but excel in the creative arts, it gives them an escapism and a way of showcasing their true abilities and talents and this is incredible.”- Primary school teacher and choir leader
We are now looking forward to next year’s festivals and are continuing to collaborate with local music teachers to gather new ideas and suggestions to develop future events. If you teach the recorder or singing in a school in the Gravesham area and would like to get involved, please contact email@example.com.