On 6th December 2023, almost 400 children from Splott, Tremorfa and Adamsdown took part in a Festival of Christmas Music at St. German’s Church. This was the first project of its kind in the area, and the response from schools was overwhelming. So much so, that what had originally been planned for as a single event had to run twice in order to accommodate the numbers of children participating.

Schools prepared eight carols/Christmas songs including some in Welsh. They were supported in their learning by my weekly visits to rehearse. Only Ysgol Glan Morfa have a teacher who can play the piano well enough to accompany children. All schools were provided with backing tracks to practice but most found this difficult. The quality of the singing was varied, but progress was made in all schools and the outcome was pleasing.

Participating Schools and relationship with local churches

The schools who took part were: Baden Powell Primary, Tremorfa; Stacey Primary, Splott; Moorland Primary, Splott; Tredegarville CiW Primary, Adamsdown and Ysgol Glan Morfa, Adamsdown.

Tredegarville and Glan Morfa already have a relationship with St German’s and Moorland Primary has a good relationship with St Saviour’s, all holding carol services/nativities in the respective churches. Baden Powell reported that in years gone by they had taken part in Christmas events at St German’s, together with Willows High School, but that this had fallen by the wayside some years ago. Stacey Primary have no particular link with any church, although sometimes visit St Margaret’s as part of their R.E work.

Outcomes

Engagement in the project produced a very positive outcome with children experiencing the joy of singing together in a special environment beyond their school. Parents attended the performances, with the afternoon allowing for standing room only. Very positive reports were received from the parents themselves as well as the schools. Many had never been inside St German’s.

Both Stacey Primary and Baden Powell have expressed an interest in connecting with St German’s again. Both of these schools will be invited to take part in a summer project that will bring them to the cathedral to sing in June as part of Captain Noah and his Amazing Floating Zoo.

Tredegarville Primary used many of the songs they had learnt in their own nativity and asked me to play for the rehearsal and performances. They do not usually have a pianist to accompany and parents and teachers were delighted at the improved quality of the singing.

Next project

Schools form Rhondda Cynon Taf are currently preparing to sing in an event entitled ‘Our World’ on Thursday 21st March. Just over 400 children will be singing, spread over two performances.

Rachel Kilby, Music Animateur