Set a course for off the chart 

The Barnet Schools Music Festivals 2023

On 13th June, hordes of primary school children from all over Barnet descended on North Finchley for the first of seven days of singing, each culminating in a concert at artsdepot’s Pentland Theatre, a fabulous professional venue. Over seven days we were able to welcome nearly 1,500 students from 48 primary schools, six secondary schools and BEAT’s Satellite Music A Level Course to this year’s festivals.  

These primary children sing in a massed choir. If you’ve never had a chance to do this, it’s an incredible experience because the sound and support all around you sweeps away inhibitions and enables joyous self-expression. There’s increasing amounts of research showing how extraordinarily good for you this is both physically and mentally. Not only that, it makes an amazing concert!

We have a big rehearsal all together – this year a sea shanty, a South Indian fusion piece, a challenging contemporary choral song, a spot of Glenn Miller, a gorgeous song in Hebrew and the amazing concert finisher (more about that later). After all that, each school group then rehearses their individual item on the stage, supported by a professional band, sound engineers, microphones – whatever they need. 

Then, after a chance to relax backstage, it’s time for the concert. This year, schools brought incredible variety in their individual items, and the overall standard was higher than it’s ever been. Primary children sang together, performed for each other, their families and communities, and saw some incredibly inspiring performances by secondary students, giving them a taste of where their musical journey could take them in future. 

It’s such a privilege to work with these talented and enthusiastic young people who have been so well-prepared by the skilled and committed colleagues we are fortunate to have in Barnet’s schools.  

In the final number, each school holds up a placard naming their school and, well, the crowd goes wild. It’s an amazing feeling. This year, at that moment, they were singing these words from the end of Gary Barlow’s brilliant anthem Dare.

There are coastlines in the heart, you won’t reach if you don’t start
Set a course for off the chart – if you Dare!

Thank you to all the schools who continue to prioritise the arts and help make life-long memories for Barnet’s young people.