I wonder if you have a hero? If so, I wonder what sort of hero this person is. Maybe he or she plays sports. Maybe he or she is in a book. Or maybe he or she is on TV.

I have a hero. He appears on TV. I want to tell you a little bit about him. His name is Gareth Malone.

So what does my hero do on TV? Well, he runs reality TV shows. But Gareth’s reality shows are no ordinary reality shows. In most reality shows there are competitions or arguing. People fight, people put each other down, people work hard to make sure they beat the others. What makes Gareth’s shows different is that everyone wins. Everyone cooperates with each other. Everyone works hard to be the best they can—not to beat each other, but to support and help one another.

My hero, Gareth Malone

It sounds like a fairy tale doesn’t it? Well, actually, it sounds like music! For Gareth Malone is a choir master. In his reality shows, Gareth goes to unusual places to form choirs. These places have no tradition of choirs. Not only that, they generally have no desire to have a choir. For example, in the past Gareth has gone into an all boys sports school and a town with a lot of people out of work.

When Gareth arrives in these places many of the people there are often sad or lonely. They often wish there was something that could bring people together to form a better community. And they often wish there was something they could do in the community that they could be proud of.

When Gareth leaves these places, many people’s lives have been changed. There is happiness. There is a sense of community. And there is a sense of pride in that community.

And how does he do it? The answer is music. Music, music, music. By getting people to sing together, to express their feelings in song, people begin to come alive. They begin to make friends. They feel pride in what they are doing. And the community they are in feels pride in their local choir. By singing together, the singers become more fully human.

Last night I watched the latest episode of Gareth Malone’s TV programmes. It was amazing. In fact, it made me cry. For this time Gareth has gone into an army base—not to make a choir of the soldiers, but to make a choir of the soldiers’ wives and girlfriends. Most of the soldiers are fighting in Afghanistan. The women are left behind—looking after children, keeping the house going, all the time hoping that their husbands or boyfriends come home again. It’s enough to make anyone sad and lonely. But through music making, Gareth helps turn this sadness into happiness, and the loneliness into friendship.

While the heroes are fighting in Afghanistan, a different sort of hero is making a difference to some of those left behind—all through the power of music!

Who knows? If there were more of this sort of hero making music, perhaps there would be fewer wars and so less of a need for other heroes to risk their lives in battle.

If you are interested in watching the Gareth Malone’s TV programme, it is on Mondays at 9pm on BBC2 for the next couple of weeks. (It is unfortunate that this is on too late for children, but there is always BBC iPlayer!). Also, do take a look at Gareth Malone’s website. There’s lots to look at there!

Picture credits:
  1. My hero, Gareth Malone. This comes from a collection of photos on Gareth Malone’s website.