Monthly Archives: April 2014


Choir collaboration with Manheim Central

On Tuesday 1st April, Birkenhead High School Academy and Manheim Central School in Pennsylvania kickstarted their collaboration in style with a cross-Atlantic Skype session together. Our choirs sang to each other, had a question and answer session and then we rehearsed my arrangement of ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams together. The Skype session was in preparation for us to record and film the piece together remotely.

See an amazing recent article on the project HERE by K. Scott Kreider at Lancaster Online, or read it below –

Vocal students in Manheim Central, England collaborate via Skype

K. SCOTT KREIDER/Correspondent | Posted: Thursday, April 3, 2014 3:15 pm

With the help of the Internet, teachers and students in today’s modern classrooms are able to expand the scope of their education far beyond the classroom walls.

In the case of Manheim Central, it’s enabling some students to harmonize, literally, with others halfway around the world.

In Manheim Central High School’s music room on Tuesday, music teacher Louise Anderson led her vocal ensemble students on piano as they gathered around to sing a four-part vocal arrangement of Pharell William’s hit song “Happy.”

On the wall behind the piano, a large video screen showed their audience, via Skype, listening to the Manheim students with big smiles from all the way across the pond at Birkenhead High School Academy, outside Liverpool, England.

Matt Lammin, a composer and Birkenhead music teacher who wrote the vocal arrangement by commission for Anderson’s class, listened intently along with his own students as Manheim’s vocal ensemble performed. Lammin’s class also performed the same song over Skype, followed by a cross-cultural discussion between the two classes.

Anderson and Lammin have been working together this year on several musical projects, after Anderson won a $5,000 grant from the Manheim Central Foundation for Education Enrichment to facilitate the cross-cultural collaboration.

The grant covered commissioning Lammin to write arrangements for Anderson’s students. It will also cover a recording session for a collaborative recording project with Lammin’s class, and travel expenses for Lammin to visit Manheim Central next month, in time for Manheim’s spring concert on May 15.

“What an opportunity to meet someone from another country and to make music together,” MCFEE Co-Executive Director Cheryl Burke wrote in an email on Tuesday. “We are very grateful that Dr. Anderson was willing to go the extra mile and provide this experience for her students.”

On Wednesday, Anderson took the vocal ensemble to Pin Factory studio in Lititz to record their performance of “Happy”.

That recording will later be mixed with a recording of Lammin’s class performing the same song.

“I think it’s a neat collaboration,” Anderson said. ‘Happy’ is a really big hit right now. Everybody is doing their own ‘Happy’ videos. The one for Lancaster was really great. So we’re going to do our own video here.”

Anderson said that both classes would make videos for the song, then the footage from both would be mixed together along with the recording.

“It is a tremendous amount of work to put all this together. But our Skype session this morning with 100 students from over there was just a really special thing to happen,” Anderson said after class on Tuesday.

Anderson said it was a valuable lesson to help students understand that the world is much bigger than Manheim Central.

The vocal ensemble students also expressed their enthusiasm for the project. Senior Paige Whitman said that she really appreciated the chance to encounter cultural differences first hand.

“One of the reasons I really wanted to do something outside of this area was to give students here exposure to other cultures, and just other school systems,” Anderson said.

According to Anderson, Birkenhead students don’t have the same class time allotted for choir practice. Instead, Lammin’s students meet once a week during their lunch break to practice.

Lammin has been directing choirs for about 10 years. He has taken part in a lot of interesting projects, but never anything like this before, he wrote in an email.

“It’s a very exciting opportunity for our girls,” he wrote. “Anderson has been fantastic in facilitating this project and she has been ambitious all the way through since I first heard from her about a year and a half ago. It’s fantastic to see the fruits of this now.

“I’m really excited to come over and see for myself all the great things that are happening at Manheim Central,” he added.

Joining Lammin for the visit in May will be Birkenhead’s head of music, Chris Watson, who will take a tour of Manheim Central district schools.

During his visit, Lammin will also join Anderson’s choir and music theory classes to work with the students.

Then, during the spring concert on May 15, Lammin will conduct the students during their performance.

“We will present all of this stuff to the public,” Anderson said.

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