Bach to School
A flexible teaching and singing resource using the music of J.S. Bach
In partnership with Live from London & Voces8 Foundation
Supported by the Music Teachers’ Association & Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference
Bach to School is a flexible resource project developed by Gabrieli Roar and offered free of charge to all UK schools. The pandemic restrictions have created many challenges in engaging young people in choral work. The project has grown from discussions with many of our Roar choir directors and other school teachers. It aims to introduce young people to some of Bach’s finest choral music.
Bach to School is based around the German chorale repertoire; these famous hymns are not only such an important part of Bach’s music, but often reappear throughout the history of classical music. In their basic form, they are marvellous, strong melodies which can be sung in unison to great effect. They can also be sung in parts with Bach’s often expressive harmony, or they can be a simple vocal component of Bach’s more elaborate instrumental movements. The advantage of this musical material is its flexibility, which we hope will be of use in a variety contexts, abilities and age groups, especially when the requirement to arrange pupils into ‘bubbles’ prevents more traditional gathering of school choirs and ensembles.
Bach to School comprises two parts. The first is based round a group of Chorales for Christmastide. There are usually several settings of each chorale melody, including earlier versions by Martin Luther, Lucas Osiander and Michael Praetorius. This facilitates a variety of performance options (which might also include instruments), and allows pupils to see how these melodies and harmony develop over time. The second we’ve titled Chorales in Fancy Dress, where we’ve chosen seven of Bach’s more elaborate ‘chorale fantasia’ cantata movements, all with easy choral parts; we’ve also included simple settings of the same chorales.
Alongside the printed material, which is non-copyright and may be freely printed and distributed, Gabrieli has recorded tracks of the instrumental parts to all this music which may be downloaded and used as accompaniment for your singers. There are also teaching notes and links to further resources for teachers or more advanced students. All music is given in English translation, but there are German versions too for the truly ambitious!
This project runs in conjunction with the Live from London / Gabrieli Consort & Players Bach for Christmas series which will see Bach’s Christmas Oratorio streamed over six days from 25 December to 06 January. We are inviting schools to send us a video of their Bach performances, and we will curate a composite version for inclusion in each programme. We will also provide free access codes to watch all the streamed programmes for the schools involved.
Videos will need to be submitted by 27 November to be included in the series, so sign up now to receive the Bach to School resources pack!
We are of course aware that schools are under considerable pressure at the moment, and salute the many teachers working hard to maintain choral singing in schools in very challenging circumstances. We hope this project may provide young people with access to some wonderful music until such times as school choirs and ensembles can meet in larger groups to perform in public as before.
Sign up here to receive your Bach to School resources pack