ELS Jul - Dec 2009

Images past and present of ELS in the community. From working in schools to working with the elderly. From practice to performance. You'll find it all here.





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19th December 2009 - We're taking a short break. During that time there will be a committee meeting to decide on the next part of the project. We will also be arranging some fundraising activities. If you would like to take part, or have any ideas, please email me (Blue) at the usual address.


16th December 2009 - Gave another opportunity for ACC to perform. Filling half the Village Hall with their presence, the venue was packed to capacity. After the performance came food and some quite fantastic punch.



14th December 2009 - Was party night for ACC. Poetry, songs and food! The Crown at Withybed Green hosted the 'do' and provided some excellent 'pub grub' - their chips are amazing! Everyone was in fine spirits. Click on the link below to see a few photos from the night's proceedings. Click on any image for a closer look:





5th December 2009 - And very busy we have been too...


Update 16th November:

Mr G and Blue attended a day long seminar entitled 'Inclusion Inspires - Music Making a Difference', which was hosted at Birmingham Symphony Hall by Music Leader West Midlands.


'Music Leader' is an organization which is dedicated to the professional development of music leaders. This particular programme discussed ways of working with people who have some kind of special need. We met some very dedicated individuals who have devoted much time and energy in finding solutions for people with disabilities, in order for them to be able to take part in music making activities.


The day began with a keynote address by Richard Stilgoe, the current Chair of Youth Music, UK's largest children's music charity. He was both warm and inspiring. He gave many examples of working together with those who may need some assistance to get where they want or need to be. One such tale was of three men, all with special needs, all institutionalized in the same institution, many, many years ago. Billy was full of ideas and visions, but no one could understand him - except Joey, who was the only person who was fully able to converse with him. But neither could write - which is where Ernie came in! The three together wrote a book - the three together were an 'author'. I remember many years ago, watching a film which was based on this very heart warming story. (If anyone remembers the name of the film, I would very much like to hear from you. Mail me, Blue, at the usual address.)


The whole seminar focussed on how much can be achieved by working together as a whole, by including people of all ages and backgrounds in a combined solution. We all have something to contribute to that whole.


Update 28th November:

The Christmas Show at Alvechurch Baptist Church was splendid! Thank you to all the organisers and all the performers. There was singing and poem reading for the entertainment of everyone who came along to enjoy themselves. The event has been memorialized on a CD,  for more information please email Blue at the usual address or speak with Andy Parker on choir night. The CD is priced at £2.


Update 1st December:

On 30th November, ACC had the privilege of meeting and working with Stefan, a pupil from Pitcheroak School. Stefan took the lead in singing "Angels", a 'call and response' carol composed and written by our very own Mike Genders. This was then performed by ACC, Pitcheroak School Choir and pupils from Kingsley College as part of their performance at the Mencap Christmas Carol Service in Worcester Cathedral. Around sixty members of ACC were in attendance - the stage was packed! Canon Hazel Hughes, the Bishop and Alan Smith all thanked Mike Genders on his way out of the Cathedral, as did a number of staff from other schools and some other people who Mike didn't know!


We are eager to build more links between ACC and Pitcheroak School Choir. The shared singing brings great benefits to everyone who takes part and gives a huge message to the audience of our enthusiasm and willingness not only to sing, but to be able to embrace any level of singing ability into the choir.


Update 5th December:

On a more sombre note, a contingent from ACC (almost half of the choir) performed at a very special remembrance event for bereaved parents.


Invited by Edward's Trust, the choir sang two songs in Birmingham Cathedral to an audience of around 250 bereaved parents. It was a poignant and deeply moving occasion, vastly different to any venue we have previously performed at. The response from the staff and attendees was one of warmth and gratitude. They were very touched  that ACC had taken time out of their busy schedules to come and share with them on their special day.


My own personal thanks to everyone who came along, I am very proud of you!


and finally...

Our next scheduled events are:

  • 14th December 2009 (Christmas Party - usual pub venue)

  • 16th December 2009 (Alvechurch Village Hall - more on this later)

12th November 2009 - a renewed engagements list for you all. Some details appear under the 5th November log entry and more will follow.

  • 28th November 2009 (Alve Baptist Church - Christmas Show)

  • 1st December 2009 (Worcs Cathedral - Mencap Concert)

  • 5th December 2009 (B'Ham Cathedral - Edward's Trust)

  • 14th December 2009 (Christmas Party - usual pub venue)

  • 16th December 2009 (Alvechurch Village Hall)

Please ensure Blue knows which events you are attending as we need to keep track of the numbers. In her absence, speak with Mary or Holly, who will be holding the fort and the clip board.


The coach for Mencap is currently full, with a reserve list of 3. If you have booked a place and since changed your mind, please inform Blue ASAP.


Exciting news:


We are now in the process of forming a separate working group for ACC and creating a new bank account to hold their funds. We have always felt giving the choir independence from the ELS project would be advantageous. It will allow more people to have a say in what we do and will ease the burden on those already taking the lead. We'll let you know as soon as the new team is formulated.


A reminder that our next choir meeting is:


Monday November 16th 2009

Time: 7:30 - 9:30pm


The Crown, Withybed Green

(no subs or mug required!)


11th November 2009 - Mr. G and Blue accompanied Pitcheroak School choir and staff, to a very special venue on November 8th. The choir had been invited, for the second year running, to perform at a Remembrance Service held by Edward's Trust. This particular service was for bereaved children to come together and remember someone special to them who has died.


More than 220 were in attendance as poems and songs were presented to mark those very special memories. Pitcheroak School Choir ended the service by very fittingly singing "You've Got a Friend".


It is at times when we feel at our lowest, that we so need to know that people are around us, supporting us.


5th November 2009 - and with fireworks as my background beat, here are some updates for you:


We're nearing Christmas and the events calendar is filling up!!




ACC has been invited along with members of Pitcheroak School Choir and students from Kingsley College to sing at the Mencap Christmas Concert in Worcester Cathedral, on Tuesday 1st December 2009.


For ACC members: A 57 seater coach will be organized to pick choir members up at 6:00pm from somewhere in Alvechurch and drop them back at approximately 9:30pm (exact place to be determined - watch this space or keep checking your emails!). So far 48 seats have been allocated, if you wish to reserve your seat please email me (Blue) ASAP at the usual address or any other email address you may have for me :))))


You should wear something smart - not smart casual. The colour is unimportant. Ties for the gents please!!




ACC has also been invited to perform at Alvechurch Baptist Church on Saturday, November 28th. Details to follow. We are the 'main attraction', so the more the merrier.




Crown Meadow First School would like to link up with ACC and Pitcheroak School for some combined singing. The emphasis here is on 'community cohesion'. Watch out for more details as they unfold.






What is this doing in fourth place ???? We now have our Christmas Party organized - yipppeeeee! It will be:


Monday, December 14th 2009


The Crown, Withybed Green

Time: when you get there until you leave!


Be prepared for one of our normal 'pub nights', but with more drinking, eating and chatting... and slightly less singing! Anyone with ideas for party games or other 'things to do' - let us know. Come in your 'glad rags' for this fun and high spirited occasion. A very big thank you to Mary for getting this organized for us. YOU ARE A STAR!!


Fifth: Our DVD has been finalized. If you would like to pre-order a copy, contact me (Blue) at our usual address. It is free of charge to anyone who would like to do some fundraising on our behalf. Other interested parties should be prepared to make a donation of £5.00 towards the costs. If you would like us (Mr G. and Blue) to come along and do a talk or presentation for your club, organisation or company, get in touch, we would be happy to oblige.


That's about it folks... but KEEP COMING BACK! We are busy, busy, busy!


1st November 2009 - "The Fun Theory" - can we get more people to do things if we make them fun to do? That was a theory tested out by some guys in Stockholm. Below is one of their video clips sent to us by a good friend of ours in Italy (thanks Vittorio!!):



We fully support the idea. We have found that by making singing 'fun', more people take part! So if you haven't joined us yet, come along on Monday evenings


12th October 2009 - A new song for ACC to learn, here performed by The Lighthouse Family:



I'll be uploading the other 'newbie' as soon as possible.


A reminder that our next choir meeting is:


M.onday October 19th 2009

Time: 7:30 - 9:30pm


The Crown, Withybed Green

(no subs & no mug required!)


The following week (Mon, Oct 26th) is half-term, which means no choir meeting has been scheduled.


10th October 2009 - And a very successful raid it was too! Around 20 choir members turned out to invade The Oddfellows Arms, Foregate Street, Astwood Bank at their beer festival. At the front were Mike, Mick, Allyson and Barnaby all on mics. The rest of us were spread around, trying to blend in and appear nonchalant! We think we can safely say a fine time was had by one and all!


9th October 2009 -


Two announcements for all ACC choir members


Saturday October 10th 2009

The 'raid'

Time: 8:30

For more details email Blue


Alberta, Alberta

Rio Grande





Monday October 12th 2009

Time: 7:30 - 9:30pm


Alvechurch Middle School

(our usual venue)

Subs: £2 per person

Anyone of any ability welcome

11 years of age or older


Don't forget to bring your mug !!!



8th October 2009 - Our final stop on this leg of the tour was St Laurence's Church, Alvechurch. Our thanks to Revd. David Martin for providing us with the venue.


More than 350 children and staff from six different partner schools poured into the beautiful old building for a celebration to be proud of!


All the pews were filled, as was a large portion of the aisle space.


The roof was raised, and the sound of the bells drowned out as the programme began. People from the neighbouring building even came along to see what was happening!


The event showed the very real effect of music in uniting and linking people across a broad spectrum of abilities. Everyone was part of the whole, each made their own contribution to the bigger picture no matter how big or how small their individual part was.


So from the whole team: THANK YOU FOR YOUR INDIVIDUAL PART, we could not have done it without you! And always remember to be who you are, because


it's OK to be YOU - you are marvellous!!


The final parts of our DVD were filmed at the Church and at Alvechurch Middle School. For more information on the DVD, read the text under '5th October 2009' or contact Blue, who would be delighted to hear from you.


We will be uploading more photos as and when they become available, so - as always - bookmark this page and keep coming back!


7th October 2009 - Third stop: Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic First School. Wow, what a welcome!


Blue, how could you be the last to arrive when you live the nearest? The notorious Redditch roundabouts? Likely story!


The hall quickly filled with rows of children, all eagerly waiting for the workshops to begin. As soon as the music started they joined in with the fun; singing, signing and dancing to their heart's content.


For the final workshop the hall was packed - not only with children, but also (it seemed) with every teacher and teaching assistant from every class! Jules, our photographer, was in her element with so many great shots to take, she hardly knew where to start. Thank you to each and everyone of you for supporting the event.


The sound was amazing, almost ear splitting in fact!


Special thanks to Tony Tamburro, Head Teacher, for inviting us along and actively taking part in all the proceedings. Thank you also for the very warm hospitality. We all felt well looked after and cared for. That lemon drizzle cake was scrumptious!! Hey, Mr. D... if you're reading this page - add it as an alternative to the now famous apple and almond tart!!!


6th October 2009 - Next stop: Astwood Bank First School. The sun was still shining as we arrived at our second venue.


You might be wondering by now who was in the outward bound team, here goes: Mike 'Mr G' Genders, Lillian Boutté, Denny Ilett (guitar), Andy Crowdy (bass), Daisy Palmer (drums), Allyson Craigan (violin), Tracy Finch, Jessie Dyer, Sue Hughes, Andy Hughes, Julia Gross and Evi 'Blue' Barnes.


Joining us at the front was Astwood Bank's very own Music Co-ordinator, Mr. Joe George, who helped us out by playing keyboard and accordian alongside the band. Thank you Joe!


Before long the hall was filled with the sound of children singing at the top of their voices. All of them practicing the new signs they were learning from Tracy, our Communications Teaching Assistant from Pitcheroak Special School.


Thank you Astwood Bank for your hospitality... the cake was marvellous by the way!! Whoever would have thought courgettes would go in a sponge mix? Try it - you'll be pleasantly surprised.


5th October 2009 - and the beginning of a very busy 4 day schedule! The whole team were excited and raring to go!


A bright, fresh Monday morning saw us heading out to our first venue: Chadsgrove School & Specialist Sports College. Chadsgrove is a day special school for children who have a physical disability. Many pupils also have additional sensory, communication or learning difficulties.


Stephanie Wellings, their Music Co-ordinator, commented on the power of music to engage children of all abilities. Her comments were quickly realised as we began our workshops and observed the students taking part! Children were seen bopping in the aisles, as they sang and signed alongside Lillian Boutté and her band.


Monday was also the day we began filming for our DVD. This has been funded independently to showcase the work of ELS and to promote fundraising initiatives. Let Blue know if you would like to reserve a copy by mailing her at our usual address. One 'free of charge' copy will be given to each of our partner schools and to anyone wanting to raise funds on our behalf. For anyone else, we ask for a donation of £5.00.


A big thank you to Jane Brennan, a member of Alvechurch Community Choir, who gave up her time to come along to Chadsgrove School to be interviewed. She enjoyed herself so much, she stayed for an entire workshop!!


Our thanks also to Head Teacher, Deb Rattley, for allowing us to bring some of our music magic into your school.


We had a great time linking up with you all!!


9th September 2009 - Hurray!! Lillian and her band will soon be back in town to head up all the activities scheduled for early October.


First on the agenda are three full days 'on the road' visiting three different partner schools; Chadsgrove, Astwood Bank and Mount Carmel. Each day will be packed full with singing, signing and fun!


During the same week, Lillian Boutté and her band will be taking the lead as pupils and staff from all six schools who have worked with ELS in 2009, join together to sing and sign the songs they have learnt. This celebratory event is scheduled to take place at St Laurence's Church in Alvechurch.


If you have been invited to any of the venues but have not yet confirmed your attendance, please do so at your earliest convenience. Those of you who would like an opportunity to attend a workshop or the celebratory event, please email us as soon as possible - some venues are of limited capacity. 


19th August 2009 - A special thank you to The Crown at Withybed Green for their generous hospitality on the evening of the 17th!


Around 30 members of Alvechurch Community Choir turned out for an evening of song, laughter and companionship. We think it is fair to say that everyone had a great time. A couple of newcomers came along to join in the fun, which is not hard to do when you find yourself amongst such genuinely warm and welcoming people.


Thank you also to Mike and Dave for taking the musical lead with acoustic guitars and mandolin.


Choir practice is due to recommence on Monday 7th September. Keep watching here for the latest updates.


Some discussion has been had around the idea of a more 'uniform' look. A couple of T-shirt designs have been circulated and ideas for other looks e.g. blouses and shirts with a smaller logo. The choir colour is red - if you have any ideas that you would like to add to the pot, please mail Blue at the usual address. She will have already received any ideas mailed to Dave.


5th August 2009 - An apology from me (Blue)! Two sound files which appeared on this page entered the great cyber 'black hole' and were apparently lost. The reason for this was my use of a 'freeware' sound player, support for which has since been withdrawn. It only came to my attention today, but I got right on the case! The missing files have been restored using a different player. So, in case you missed them, follow the Brian Eno and Howard Goodall links to listen to their independent interviews.


4th August 2009 -


An announcement for all ACC choir members


Our mid Summer choir meeting scheduled for

Monday August 17th 2009

Time: 7:30 - 9:00pm


The Crown, Withybed Green


has now been confirmed


See you all there for an evening of song, friendship and laughter.

Anyone needing directions, should contact 'Blue'

via our usual mailing address.


1st August 2009 - Mike and Blue embarked on a journey South yesterday, all the way to glorious Oxford. Their mission? To meet up with Lillian Boutté, Denise Gordon, Sue & Andy Hughes, Daisy Palmer, Denny Ilett and Andy Crowdy at the 2009 Oxford Summer School. Lillian and the team had been running a singing workshop during the week, Mike and Blue were invited along to join them for the final day which included an evening performance.


Around thirty people signed up for the workshop. By Friday they were producing some amazing singing! We made an attempt to capture some of the sounds for you, but there's nothing quite like a 'live' performance to get the full impact.


A special 'Hello!' to Eve & Natasha Meusz and Pauline, who took part in the workshop. Eve is choir leader for 'Wyred Up!', a jazz and gospel singing group formed in September 2007. Originally inspired by Lillian during workshops held in the Vale of Evesham, the choir now meets regularly in Wyre Piddle. If you live in the area and would like more details, please contact Eve Meusz directly. Eve is not only a wonderfully enthusiastic and talented music leader but she is also a very dear friend of ours.




22nd July 2009 - We promised you some images of our schools workshops, you can find them by




and more from ACC at our end of term concert on Monday evening



21st July 2009 - Last night was the end of term concert for ACC. Below you can hear some of the performance. A special message from us all to Katie Harris, who leaves our small and close knit community to begin a new life in Scotland. Thank you for all your hard work... we will miss you very, very, very much.


More to come... keep watching!



This text will be replaced by the flash music player.



20th July 2009 - Yes, Lillian was back in town! A full day of workshops at Pitcheroak School served to enthuse staff and children alike. New songs, old songs, new friends, old friends.... all blending together to make a magnificent sound and create a wonderful feeling of 'togetherness'. We have promised you some photos, a promise which has certainly not been forgotten! An album will arrive here in the next couple of days. We very much appreciate your patience.


The 8th of July was earmarked as a workshop planning day. Lillian Boutté, Denise Gordon, Mr G and Blue all sat round a table together discussing the work so far and planning the next leg of activities. October promises to be an incredibly busy month, with three more school visits and a celebratory event all to occur within the same week. Watch this space for more news as it unfolds.


We have been inundated with feedback forms (which as we speak are being entered on to a database for analysis - thank you Simon!) from pupils at the schools we have already visited. The response has been phenomenal and very positive! Thank you to one and all for giving of your time and letting us know what you really think. It helps us to monitor progress and develop ideas for next year. We are currently finalizing a feedback form for staff to further assist that analysis. We will upload it here when it is ready.


If you have been involved in any of the activity along the way and have something to say - positive or negative - please contact us. It could be you are a parent, staff member, choir member, onlooker, maybe you have simply been following progress on the Net - whatever you have to say will be valuable to us.


Our very good wishes go out to Diane our Senior Signer, who has been laid up with health problems recently. We know you are itching to get back to the team - don't worry, your seat is being kept warm!


Lillian and the band gave a truly enjoyable private concert in appreciation of the work the staff do at Pitcheroak School. Everyone had a great time - and Blue was once again seen dancing - seems she has given up ballet in favour of Rock 'n Roll!! Thanks Lils, Denise, Denny, Daisy and Andy for all that you give so willingly.


The evening of July 10th was set aside for a celebratory event with Voices & Visions at Kingsley College. A group from Pitcheroak School joined together with participants from several other local schools for a superb performance of music, singing and signing. Well done to everyone who took part and of course to all those behind the scenes who have the task of managing such a large performance.


Tonight (20th July) sees the end of term concert for ACC. Family and friends have been invited to Alvechurch Community School for a 7:30 kick off. If you are in the area and would like to come along - please feel free to do so. Entry is free and who knows... maybe you'll be inspired to join us!


That's about it for now... but there will be more by the end of the week.


14th July 2009







Click on the 'more info' link under the

date to the right for the list of words



11th July 2009 (pm) - Keep checking back over the next few days, we've got lots of news for you about Lillian Boutté and Pitcheroak School.


In the meantime, for your delectation, ACC catches a falling star. This video clip was once again put together for us by our man behind the scenes, the ever skilful Simon. A hint when viewing YouTube clips, clicking on the HQ button will give you a better quality version. You will need a decent PC and a good Internet connection though!



11th July 2009 (am) - After some deliberation and two consultations (thanks Dave & Simon!), I decided to add this link.


Music is powerful in its ability to unite people from all backgrounds. You don't have to have a perfect voice, nor do you need to be the greatest musician in the world to be able to make music.


"Music opens the door to bringing people to a place where they are all connected. It is easy to connect with the world through music." A quote from Mark Johnson, the co-Director of Playing for Change


The music workshops at Pitcheroak School could not go ahead without your support, in whichever way you have given it. So.... thank you all for standing by us!



9th July 2009 - In the middle of an exceptionally busy week, I just had to take some time out to very proudly show you the latest addition to my photo album. Yes, it's ACC!! Pictured here singing 'Catch a Falling Star' in a public performance on Tuesday 7th July. The choir were invited to take part in a larger event at Alvechurch Middle School and.... they sounded and looked stunning.


Well done to one and all for battling with your nerves and rising to the challenge. Special thanks to Greg (central in green) for taking a magnificent singing lead in 'Summertime' and of course our intrepid trio Kate, Mike and Dave for all your hard work - we don't know what we'd do without you. And Barnaby.... where were you???




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