A new choir based in Ealing was launched yesterday on Zoom to get children in school years three to six singing at home, writes Declan Carey.

London Youth Choirs (LYC) West conductor Olivia Shotton led the online taster session for around 30 kids which involved singing exercises and learning about musical notes.

Covid-19 has hit music lessons in schools hard with a December report by the Incorporated Society of Musicians revealing 68% of primary school teachers said music provision was being reduced and 72% of primary schools no longer organise extra-curricular activities.

Co-founder and artistic director of LYC Rachel Staunton, 36, said: “Singing is a natural and joyful form of expression for children. Just listen outside any playground pre-Covid and you will hear non-stop rhymes, singing games and vocal chants interwoven into play.

“We at LYC believe that singing can be a catalyst for transformation in a young person. From the first moments joining a choir, a child finds themselves amongst a big team of friends, in an environment where their creativity and confidence can blossom.

“We have seen first-hand the fun, learning and social change that singing in a choir can bring about in our other 7 London Youth Choirs, and we are very excited to be working with EMS to provide more musical opportunities for the young people of Ealing and beyond.”

The virtual choir will meet during term time on Thursdays from 4.30-5.30pm and LYC West hopes to eventually rehearse physically in central Ealing in spring.

Head of Ealing Music Service Yogesh Dattani, 52, told Ealing Times: “I’m delighted that LYC West has launched in Ealing.

“Initially, it was quite bleak when we went into lockdown, but after having interviewed 24 heads of music service in Ealing to find out how they’re providing music online, not one of them said to me that they’re not providing it in some shape or form which is great.

“Obviously there is no replacement for the instrumental lesson but we want to use this facility with Zoom to reach kids that we perhaps previously weren’t able to.”

Malcolm Stokes from Hanwell, 49, watched his daughters aged eight and ten enjoy the session and learn about how choirs work together while singing.

He said: “I thought it was outstanding, it was really good. The way that it was led in was brilliant and went from basic sounds to learning songs was excellent and the girls really enjoyed it.

“I’m not surprised it went so well because the kids are doing all their school work by Zoom at the moment so they have got used to it.

“Participating in group activities is massive for kids, I wasn’t musical when I was a kid, I tried violin lessons and the dog used to hide under the table as I played. It didn’t go very well.

“But it’s a really nice thing to give my girls every opportunity to try anything that they can.”

LYC West are running a second free workshop on Thursday 4th February at 4.30pm due to popular demand.