“Hymn tunes and folk tunes” - A summer concert series for the Schools Singing Programme

July 8, 2024

Children of various ages are sining, watching a conductor, while Fraser plays the piano and another adult plays the guitar. All are smiling broadly. Photo taken in Worth Abbey
The Our Father is sung at the Good Shepherd celebration in Worth Abbey

“Hymn tunes and Folk tunes” is the title of the Schools Singing Programme (SSP) Summer Concert series in Surrey.

The Diocese launched its SSP in 2023, inspired by the model originally developed by the Diocese of Leeds. Through the SSP, the Diocese is able to deliver outstanding singing tuition, music education and performance opportunities to children and young people attending state primary schools in Sussex and Surrey, with expert guidance and tuition provided by two full-time Choral Directors.

Over the course of the Summer Term, schools involved with the SSP in Surrey have been learning hymn tunes from every corner of the British Isles and folk tunes from across the world. This has culminated in six concerts, and one addition to a school’s summer concert. The Choral Directors in Surrey in Sussex also taught all the schools an Our Father which was sung as part of the Good Shepherd service at Worth Abbey.

Reflecting on a busy but highly enjoyable term, Fraser Ellson, the Choral Director for Surrey, said:

"The children have enjoyed learning about the various tunes that make up hymnody today, and then interspersing that with tunes that come from an eclectic mix of cultures. A favourite has been a river shanty from Venezuela!"

He hopes that this can lead to more events being held in these local parishes and schools, showcasing the talents of the wonderful children whilst also allowing them to experience thought-provoking sacred texts and providing a space for reflection.

Teachers whose students are involved in the SSP recently gave this feedback:

"Fraser was great - he really engaged the children through use of games, vocal warm up activities, and the songs he chose to sing. I thought the way he delivered each session was fabulous and it was lovely to have an opportunity for certain children to sing at the Diocese." Year 4
"The children always looked forward to their singing sessions with Fraser. He taught them a lovely range of fun songs and liturgical music, many of which had actions to accompany them. Fraser had a firm, calm approach and the children responded to him very well. He asked a variety of questions to consolidate musical vocabulary and gave a positive response if the child's answer wasn't quite right. The children were all very keen to be the weekly 'Singing Superstar' and Fraser always checked he wasn't giving out duplicate certificates." Year 3

To find out more about the diocesan Schools Singing Programme, click the button below.