Choir at Pirniehall means there’s so much to sing about

Children of Pirniehall Primary School in Pilton
Children of Pirniehall Primary School in Pilton
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The community at Pirniehall Primary School has been bonded by a new choir. It was formed eight weeks ago and its members will tonight appear in their first public performance – in front of a sell-out audience of 100 people.

The school’s headteacher, Mary Gillespie, said the new-found love for singing has had an “infectious” impact on all the community.

The choir was formed following a nine-month project at the Pilton school run by the Fischy Music charity, which uses music to explore themes of self-esteem, relationship issues and personal and social development.

Ms Gillespie said: “We have been working with Fischy on emotional literacy and emotional intelligence and have been part of a project where we have been looking at resilience and building self-esteem and confidence.

“We are in the heart of Pilton, so the kids do have their challenges. This is about making them believe in themselves.”

Some, including Ms Gillespie, had reservations about singing in public, but those have been discarded and the number of choir members has shot up to more than 30.

They meet every Wednesday to rehearse everything from traditional Scottish songs to Bruce Springsteen.

Ms Gillespie said: “There’s something therapeutic about singing and it’s so uplifting.”

Fischy Music operations manager, Suzanne Butler, who leads the choir, said: “When we started, [eight] weeks ago, the children were barely audible and the adults were quite unsure, because some of them have never sung in front of anyone in their life, so the bravery of coming along that first week not knowing what to expect is quite admirable really.”

As well as building confidence, resilience and emotional literacy among children, Fischy Music aims to improve the sense of belonging within the wider community and the charity believes this has been achieved.

Ms Butler added: “One of the mums said to me last week that this is the only time she has got together with her kids to do a formal activity like this, and certainly it’s very unusual to come together with teachers who teach your kids and work alongside them and the children.”

Joy Bantoro, ten, has also been impressed with the impact the choir has had.

She said: “The first day I was quite embarrassed and scared but now I’m ready to do everything.

“They [the Fischy team] really help you to make yourself confident about everything.”

Nicole Wilson, also ten, added: “It’s a good place to meet other people.

“Sometimes you’re very nervous because there are loads of people that are in your class, and maybe they are uncomfortable with singing, but these people want to sing and they don’t make fun of you.”

The choir will be performing tonight at 7pm in the North Edinburgh Arts Centre.