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What does the Youth Committee actually do?

Photo: Girafon Studio, copyright European Choral Association

Text: Kertu Süld

A big part of acting as the Youth Committee is related to what we decide among ourselves that we want to do and achieve. Therefore, we have initiated six unique projects to advance the choral world and inspire (future) youth. In this article you can read more about each of the projects!

Coming up with the project ideas was in a way the first project of ours. From our first real-life meeting in Bonn in May until the Membership Weekend in November 2022, we spent hours in Zoom. After several brainstorms, work in groups and proof-readings, we presented the following six ideas to the Board and Team of European Choral Association along with timelines. As these all got very good feedback, we are now proud to talk about the projects a little bit more!

1) Sing Me In revisited: related projects and activities

Do you remember the last “Sing Me In” project, that was finished almost five years ago – in 2018? Since then, the immigration map has changed a lot. Therefore it is our aim to update the repertoire guide with some songs from these “new” countries (Ukraine, Afghanistan, Morocco, Belarus, Russia, Venezuela, Somalia etc). Along with updates in the music, we want to bring Sing Me In handbooks back into the minds of ECA’s members and friends, and encourage them to use those again with the new refugees. Hopefully, this will all result even in some collective singing activities for the asylum seekers in various local refugee centres!

2) Practical Youth Involvement

The last Youth Committee made a wonderful Handbook on Youth Involvement, and the current Youth Committee wants to build on their effort to make youth involvement even greater. This project has three great aims:

  1. to make a Big Fat Presentation and workshop about the Handbook, which can be presented at choral events around Europe;
  2. to make a concise pamphlet which makes the information in the Handbook more accessible;
  3. to make a series of videos about the topic of Youth Involvement, to show its relevance.

Along with developing the materials for distribution, we are very happy and available to visit our members and friends who would love to work with youth and on increasing their involvement to share our expertise through presentation and workshop!

3) Connecting National Youth Choirs

We believe that National Youth Choirs (NYCs) have an important role in the choral world and we would love to encourage choirs and their organisers to find more ways to connect. In 2020 and 2021, the EPIC project focused on emerging musicians. As one of its five main lines, it took a look into the potential of NYCs via “networking of existing and potential National Youth Choir organisers, to exchange best practices and cooperation opportunities”. Now, inspired by the EPIC project, we would love to bring the organisers, leaders and members of the NYCs together to create an active community that can rise the awareness of the importance of collective singing across the regions.

4) Think Tank on Inclusion and Diversity 

Diversity and inclusion are essential in every organisation today, as a healthy variety of people from different backgrounds and cultures provides us with the balance of voices and diversity of thought that we need. Through different discussions in the European Choral Association, we have noticed that this is an important topic for the organisation. However, to implement a strategy and policies is not that easy. Therefore we would like to invite various organisations in the choral and cultural field to participate in a Think Tank on Inclusion and Diversity. The participants would be able to share best practices, challenges they face, questions they have, and general ideas and opinions on the topic – all to inspire each other as well as have new outlooks and approaches to the topic.

5) Research on lifelong singing

As members of choral communities across Europe, have witnessed from personal experience that the two largest age groups within society who partake in choirs are those aged 30 and under and those aged 50 and over. People tend to stop singing in their 30s and 40s, most likely due to constraints of work, family-life and modern living. The aim of this project is to learn the specific reasons for leaving the choral sector and the reasons why some people do not return. We also aim to learn the ways these reasons are met in different communities (e.g. workspace choirs as a continuation of a youth/university choir, parents choirs, choral short-term projects). The research will be a combination of several appropriate methods. Later we will report about our findings and put the solutions we’ve found in the spotlight, hoping to help the choral world to understand its members even better.  

6) Visibility of the Youth Committee

The Youth Committee has often been somewhat of an overlooked part of the European Choral Association. So, we want to increase our visibility that all members of the European Choral Association, and others in the choral sector and beyond, know about our efforts and hopefully get inspiration. To do so, we have already started a blog in which we can share updates on our work along with offer ideas and advice for (young) cultural leaders, as well as contribute to the Newsletter of the European Choral Association with short snippets every month. And as you have made it already so far – thanks for reading, for helping us out with achieving our goals, and do keep an eye on our blog for future posts!

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