14 Mar 2023

Inclusive Choir scoops national award


The West Midlands ' Inclusive Choir has won the 'Excellence in SEND (Music and Drama) ' Award at the Music and Drama Education Awards 2023.

The choir celebrates that everyone, no matter their abilities or disabilities, has their own way of sharing their voice.

Disabled and non-Disabled young people come together, alongside their parents, carers, and siblings to create a musical community without barriers.

Over 260 members in the West Midlands challenge the concept of a traditional choir by taking part in a variety of ways including signing, movement, using assistive technology, alongside singing.

The choir has in-person, online, and hybrid rehearsals to allow everyone to join in equally, including those who zoom in from hospitals, hospices, or their homes. In Birmingham, the Choir meets at the MAC (Midlands Arts Centre) for both in-person and on-line rehearsals.

The Music and Drama Education Awards celebrate the contribution made by charities, and other organisations to the lives of others through the performing arts. Winners are chosen by a panel of expert judges.

The choir is run as a partnership between Soundabout, Midlands Arts Centre and four local Music Hubs: Birmingham 's Services For Education, SIPS Music and Arts, Solihull Music, and Severn Arts. The choir is part of a national network of 14 Soundabout Choirs which all put inclusivity at the heart of the musical community.

The choirs collaborate nationally to record songs while also putting on local performances across the country.

The West Midlands Inclusive Choir has had a busy year with events at Symphony Hall, Midlands Arts Centre, Worcester Cathedral, and performing as special guests at the National Association of Special Educational Needs awards in the Grand Hotel Birmingham. The success of the West Midlands Inclusive Choir was also recognised at the Youth Music Awards in late 2022, with the choir finishing as a finalist for the 'Outstanding Project ' Award.

One parent commented: “The choir gave her [daughter] a place to find her voice with different people who all love music ”.

Holly Radford-James, CEO of the charity Soundabout said “We are absolutely thrilled that the West Midlands Inclusive Choir has been recognised with such a distinguished national award where competition is fierce - making us even more proud that a West Midlands based programme has won.

“It 's a testament to the incredible partners, families, and volunteers involved. The choirs are mini musical examples of how inclusive communities can thrive when you work equitably - an example for wider society! ”

Stuart Birnie, head of Music Service at Services For Education - who has been a keen advocate throughout - said: “I am thrilled that we collaborate with Soundabout on the Inclusive Choir programme. The West Midlands choir provides us with the community provision we have been longing to develop for some years.

“Our Birmingham Inclusive Choir was born out of the West Midlands Choir and the team we have leading on the project have gained valuable and key skills for life. We look forward to seeing the Choir grow and have further opportunities to perform. ”

The choir continues to welcome new young people and their families. For more information visit their website.

Pictured: The West Midlands Inclusive Choir in rehearsal