Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Singing is gay

I watched a fantastic programme yesterday about the forming of a choir in a sports-biased boy's school. It was incredibly moving and I was gulping back tears for most of the time. I know - it's pathetic.

Ordinarily I have a low tolerance of this kind of thing - redemption through TV - but this project was different. David Tennant look-alike Gareth Malone made a real difference to the lives of these boys when he set up that choir. This is not the karaoke of 'talent' shows. There is real work here. These are not the look-at-me show offs that normally dive in front of the camera. Some of these boys had to be persuaded and cajoled out of their 'singing is gay' attitude.

There's not enough poetry in the lives of teenage boys. This film showed what a beautiful thing it is when boys are allowed to express themselves. They get such a bad press, but they are under such pressure not display the tenderness they all - all - have the capacity to show. It showed what a stifling and debilitating thing 'coolness' is. It showed that there is so much untapped talent out there. They should show this film in every secondary school in the land, despite the foul language (most of it from the exasperated Malone).

A choir is not so different from a team in a sports event. It certainly is about team-building and doing the best for the whole. The boys who stepped up and did the solos (the penalty shoot outs of choral singing) were amazing. It just shows what you can do, if you have the expertise and have the support of the head.

Music is such an undervalued part of many school curriculums. It shouldn't be. Art, music, poetry, creative writing - they need to be done with exactly the same commitment and rigour as maths and science. They are not more important, but they are as important. They change lives.

If you can, watch the whole thing on BBC iPlayer.

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