Half Term Round-Up: February 2021

The first five weeks of 2021 have been anything but dull at LYC, as Rachel Staunton and Bethan Thomas explain…


Monday evenings this half term have been special. Alongside our regular online rehearsals and musicianship classes, we have had the pleasure of welcoming special guests. Our three junior choirs (LYC South East, LYC Boys’ Choir and LYC Girls’ Choir) had a fabulous singing and signing workshop with amazing musician Paul Whittaker OBE. Paul is profoundly deaf, and signs music in performances around the world. With Paul’s expert tuition, the children all learned signs for general instructions and expressions that we will now use regularly in zoom rehearsals, as well as how to sign the lyrics to the ‘Skye Boat Song’. The sight of everyone doing this together is beautiful, as we hope to show you in a real life concert one day soon!

Our Cambiata Girls’ Choir had a specialist workshop with Jeremy Haneman. Jeremy has worked as a conductor and director all over the world, including at the Royal Opera House, and he has a particular passion for community work. Jeremy helped us to unpack a beautiful refugee song in the Lingala language called ‘Mother’s Day’ written by refugee mothers. We got to grips with the meaning and context of the song by thinking about people who are seeking refuge in all kinds of situations.

Our partnership with Tenebrae has been having a real positive impact on our senior London Youth Choir. Tenebrae’s four Associate Artists led zoom sectional rehearsals throughout January, enabling our singers to more efficiently get to grips  with some really tricky music while benefiting from the aspirational experience of working with young professional singers. We were also grateful to be given free access to hold a ‘watch party’ at a Tenebrae digital concert. It is so important to us that all our members have access to really high quality performances such as this as part of their LYC education. 

Our musicianship program continues to go from strength to strength, and here our Head of Musicianship Greg Beardsell is even finding that online learning brings advantages. Greg says, “Even though we yearn to be learning in the same space again, the functionality of sharing screens, scrolling through scores and playing audio examples on the platform means we can often cover theoretical concepts in more depth!”

All of these activities have re-confirmed to me that it is possible for community, unity and friendship to blossom online. Many of our members have really come out of their shells and are telling us of increased musical and social confidence. It fills me with great joy to think of kitchens and living rooms across every London borough being full of the sound of children laughing and singing whilst locked down. The spirit of LYC is alive and well! – Rachel Staunton



Although we’re now used to seeing the members on screen rather than face to face, pastoral care and wellbeing continue to be at the heart of LYC. Despite the continued isolation of our own homes in Lockdown 3, for many, just logging in on a Monday or Thursday and making music is the boost that they need to get through the rest of the week. We’ve continued our happiness mission this term, providing one-to-one pastoral chats for those that request it each week, a ‘Safe Space’ messaging service and a ‘Happiness Zone’ on LYC Live, our secure private members area.

In January we introduced the Spotify playlist of the week, a themed, collaborative playlist to which members can add songs and listen together. You can find past playlists by searching for #LYCFamily on Spotify (you can also try two of them via the players on this page) and members can look out for new playlists every Tuesday on LYC Live.

At the start of February we also launched ‘LYC Pals’ as a means of staying more connected and getting to know each other better. 60 members signed up to be paired with another member of London Youth Choirs, enabling them to find out more about each other with the choice of using email or going traditional with pen and paper.

Throughout the start of the year, our senior London Youth Choir social secretaries, Lauren and Ruby, have continued to provide fantastic entertainment after rehearsals with quizzes and games of balderdash. We’ve even enjoyed a short yoga session from yogi Olivia Rusholme.

As we reach half term, we’re pleased to have put together a full week of optional singing and non-singing activities for members, including more yoga, pastoral drop-in sessions, art workshops and an open mic night. We’re also delighted with the response to our decision to make three ‘Feelgood Singing’ workshops open to all young Londoners, not just LYC members, with over 200 sign-ups so far. I still can’t quite work out whether it’s easier to manage all these incredible young people in a room or in zoom, but the sight of them all never fails to cheer me up!  – Bethan Thomas



LYC Co-Founder & Artistic Director



LYC Operations Manager



+44 (0) 7388 623178