In 1996, David Lewis, founder of the Young Voices International organization, became aware that school music in the United Kingdom was on the decline. Along with his family, Lewis went on a mission to assist music teachers, especially at schools with little to no music programming, in giving students an opportunity that would inspire a love of music in a momentous way: through amazing massed-voice concerts in local arenas. Today, the Young Voices educational program features over 200,000 different students each year singing over multiple nights in cities across England, as well as Ireland, Germany, Trinidad and Tobago, South Africa, and since 2015, the United States.
Now in collaboration with the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), Young Voices’ focus on music education is what makes this program unique. By design, it is not a competition, but instead a year-long journey that focuses on highlighting the musical potential of all students. Young Voices is an engaging, multi-faceted, all-inclusive program, that supports students’ developing 21st century skills, including self-reflection, communication, collaboration, creativity, and innovation. The adapted curriculum is engaging, fun, and exciting with arrangements from standard choral literature and familiar rock and pop songs, to others of hope, inspiration, and empowerment. Students’ skill sets will be strengthened in vocal range, diction, music literacy, and other musical elements that will complement and enhance students’ learning in other areas of education.
Young Voices provides registered teachers all necessary resources needed to successfully prepare the music in classes and rehearsals throughout the school year. Materials include scores to the high-quality performance repertoire, vocal and accompaniment recordings, conducting notes, teaching aims and objectives, as well as curricular materials and lesson plans in inquiry-based format structured on the National Core Music Standards. In addition, Young Voices has a closed online community for educators to interact and engage, and fosters community among participating teachers. Workshops are offered to review music and logistical information in which teachers earn valuable Professional Development Hours for their participation.
Many parents and guests are amazed at the scope and scale of the performance. Audiences not only experience a professional arena production, but they are seated in direct view of their child’s school. This creates an additional sense of community within the audience of those who are collectively supporting their participating school, and gives families the best view possible for an equally enjoyable experience as their child.
The benefits of the Young Voices experience are not limited to the students and their teachers, but bring communities together by sharing the love and power of music. The music often highlights themes of peace, hope, togetherness, empowerment, and unity. In an effort to prove that “music brings us together,” the Young Voices experience supports community building and emotional connections to all walks of life.
Since its inception, the Young Voices organization has brought this experience to over one million children, and it is the intent of Young Voices’ CEO, Ben Lewis, to continue that mission in the United States and beyond for millions more. He believes that to “inspire the next generation, children deserve the best introduction to music [by giving them] opportunities to find a place for it in their lives.”
“Experiences like American Young Voices give students a reason to get excited about all of the opportunities they CAN achieve.” - Courtney (Music Teacher, Albany, NY)
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