Established in 2012, Songbound is an outreach initiative that brings the transformative power of music to some of India’s poorest and most marginalised children. In cooperation with local partners, Songbound sets up and sustains children’s choirs that rehearse weekly in a safe environment, in preparation for performances throughout the year.
“Songbound was founded by our very own Joe Walters who teaches brass here at The Lyceum. This half term, I was fortunate to travel to Mumbai and meet all of the groups ran by volunteers each week. Meeting each of the choir leaders and leading them in a days’ workshop; meeting all of the children and then conducting the final concert.
I was welcomed by all of the children who were from aged 3 to 17. Some spoke fluent English, others didn’t speak any English and yet had learnt some of the English songs beautifully. We all celebrated together with a range of songs; from ‘Snap, snap, snap’ – a very simple nursery rhyme through to Louis Armstrong’s ‘Wonderful World’ as well as two Hindu songs from Bollywood Movies. I am teaching the same songs to the children of The Lyceum to then try and set up a video link to share with the schools that have access to Youtube.
My experience with the Songbound groups was life-changing. The facilities of some of the schools were eye-opening. Some groups meet in empty concrete buildings – where children are at ‘school’ on building sites as their fathers are construction workers. Some children are in run-down buildings because they are the children of mothers who work in the red-light district. There aren’t the funds to send them to government schools.
I was so impressed by how polite all of the children were while I was in Mumbai. They were so pleased to be learning and to have the opportunity to take part in singing. The concert at the end was a joyful celebration of how music can bring people together from all walks of life and how singing can bring happiness and fun above language, cultures and financial challenges.
I return to the Lyceum, grateful for the resources that we have and happy to be working with such talented children. I aim to stretch their brains even further for the rest of the term!”