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Opera Start in Schools

Extending Reach Project

Supported by Arts Council England and Inspire Culture 2023-24

We are extremely pleased to announce that we have been successful in getting funding from Arts Council England for a new year-long schools’ project. ‘Extending Reach’ will see us working with four different schools across the City and County. The project builds on our recent work, developing the skills and confidence of young music leaders, enabling them to help us deliver exciting, high-quality music projects for younger children.

This year we are partnering Djanogly Academy for the first time in several years in a project that is designed to encourage greater music participation in the school. We will be training up a group of Year 10 young student leaders to help us work with up to thirty Year 7 students in a project that will culminate in an exciting co-devised performance that will also feature international soloists and musicians.

In addition to the funding we gained, this project is also supported by the Lady Carol Djanogly Fund.

We hope that these young leaders will also join us for a project later in the year at an inner-city Primary School in Nottingham

In addition, we will be working in partnership with Inspire Culture, the music hub for Nottinghamshire, with a Primary and Secondary school in Sutton-In-Ashfield. All projects will feature work with young leaders.



Postcode Places Trust Award

Radford Academy Nottingham 2021

VoiceChoice are delighted to announce that we have been successful in being awarded a grant from Postcode Places Trust. Postcode Places Trust is a grant-giving charity funded entirely by players of People's Postcode Lottery. The grant will enable us to run a short series of workshops based around music and Opera to a while year group of Year 5 Primary School students in Radford Academy, Nottingham.

Orchestral Instruments

Voice Choice Trumpets Radford Academy


VoiceChoice Radford Academy Nottingham

Radford Academy Students

Playing for the first time on Trumpets and Trombones, in the experienced hands of Jim Stretton, Orchestral pro and workshop leader. 


Peoples Postcode Lottery & Postcode Places Trust

Digital Online Workshops with Sutton Academy 2020

VoiceChoice are delighted to announce that in November 2020 it was awarded an Arts Council grant to deliver a new pilot project building on last year’s work with Sutton Academy, but venturing into new territory for VoiceChoice. Due to the challenging circumstances in education brought about by the global pandemic of Covid, we are piloting a method of running online creative workshops with Year 9. VoiceChoice leadership will be directing different groups of students in a series of inventive music and performance based activity via big screen projection. This will be followed by workshops with a full class of primary school children from Forest Glade Primary school with on the ground support from staff. It will run from November to the end of January 2021. If successful, we are planning to put a much larger project together in2021 utilising the new approach, combining it with live delivery later in the year and culminating in live performance. Watch this space!

Virual Online Workshops



YOUNG LEADERSHIP Project (part2)

Learning through progression-2019/20

Sutton Academy Sutton in Ashfield

Funded by the Arts Council England

Many creative educational projects struggle to maintain continuity in an era when “new” or “different” are the premium concepts for funding. We have discovered with this generously funded mentoring project, that we can create within an under-resourced and challenging environment, a relationship with growing teen-agers who can inspire and pass on information and experiences to younger students who wish to learn similar skills. At Sutton Academy, it was a novel experience for Years10/11 to be showing the new Year 9 the skills and confidence they learnt by participating in a previous VoiceChoice project.


YOUNG LEADERSHIP Project (part1)

Learning through progression-2018/19

Funded by the Arts Council England

Summer/Autumn 2018/19 project at Sutton Academy, Sutton-in-Ashfield saw a selection of 12 teenage mentors participating in a series of leadership training workshops which were based on skill-sharing and then developing the personal skills, knowledge and confidence to help deliver as Young Leaders with Brierley Forest Primary and Nursery school.

The delivery in the autumn was very exciting to witness as they grew weekly in confidence and in the realisation of their responsibility as leaders. This was not always easy and our team were sometimes stretched to the limit! However, we arrived with great excitement at the end of November with a unique show and our Young Leaders taking a lot of responsibility in the final delivery. An interesting highlight was that they all presented to the Academy staff and administration, a summary of what and how they had acquired these new skills and the long-term effects they hoped to witness. We are looking forward to developing this project to another level in 2019!

 Radford Project 2017


Allison Cook in RehearsalWith funding provided by The Danielle Beccan Memorial Trust via Nottinghamshire Community Foundation and Thomas Edward Trust, VoiceChoice recently collaborated with Radford Primary School to stage an exciting music arts project linking the school with professional singers, musicians and choreographers, which culminated in a performance of an extract from Rossini’s opera, ‘La Cenerentola’.

International mezzo singer Allison Cook played Cinderella at the school, after recently performing at New York City Opera in their critically acclaimed production of "Powder Her Face".  She flew in from Paris to join the children at Radford Primary School, along with a whole host of professional international artists.

The performance combined opera with indian music and dance giving the event a multi-cultural theme, drawing on differing cultural and artistic influences.


Meeta Davé, Head Teacher said "Rarely do the children have such opportunities to work with professionals at this level.  The VoiceChoice team make opera fun and accessible and through every unique project, they have taught children new skills, challenged and stretched them in an interactive way.

The children are truly engaged and focussed. The progress they make in a relatively short amount of time is remarkable. It has a massive impact on their self-esteem and confidence and therefore an on-going benefit to their learning and the wider curriculum".


Opera Start has been running since 1999 and has been hugely successful in engaging young people in a creative learning process.

The Opera Start workshops introduce young people to many aspects of vocal, basic compositional and performance techniques, enabling them to create their own pieces, which they perform in staged operatic excerpts alongside professional singers and musicians.

Based on a model that has been used in different settings over the years, each programme is designed uniquely to best meet the needs of the participants involved.

Opera Start has proved highly effective both educationally and socially. The principal education aims are to help the young people realise their own creativity, develop their voices and perceive the link between what they are able to create themselves and the established masterpieces of opera.

Opera Start Workshops

  • Encourage creativity and learning through music
  • Engage and motivate young people from all backgrounds
  • Use the power of performance to unlock potential
  • Help to increase confidence and self-esteem



"I just want to say I had the best time ever in my whole life. A big thank you".
Sidra Ashiq, Year 5

"Big thank you to all of you and all of you are great at opera singing and at drama! Thank you for spending your free time with us and you made a fantastic performance!  Big thank you also, now that I saw what you do I want to be a professional opera singer too! Thank you!!!"
Katarzyna Kil, Year 5

"I think within school their confidence and team work skills have developed more.  They have realised that they are far braver than they knew and that with some practise and effort they can do things that might seem daunting at first.  I'm so glad that you chose our class to be part of this project!". 
Nicola Waring, Year 5 Class Teacher, Radford Primary School

"VoiceChoice teaching can be seen as modeling process.  The students are apprentices who are gradually inducted into a new community in which they too can become expert". 
Quote from Nottingham Trent University Research Paper