LISMORE'S annual musical eisteddfod opened with the sounds of singing yesterday at the Lismore Workers Club, with primary school choirs from the district taking to the stage with gusto.
It's the 102nd year of the event, making it one of Lismore's most enduring and much-loved affairs.
The four-day schools program serves as an introduction to the individual eisteddfod program, which begins on August 29 at Lismore City Hall.
The schools program runs until Friday with bands today, choral speech (spoken word and poetry) tomorrow, and 'class work', or made-up music and story shows on Friday.
Yesterday, it was all about the choirs, with primary school students from as far as Evans Head and Kyogle crowding into the Workers Club auditorium waiting for their turn to sing, with proud parents and teachers looking on.
Some of the lyrics were incredibly touching, and there was a serious side as well with an accomplished professional music teacher adjudicating the performances.
Secretary of the Lismore Musical Festival Society Val Axtens said the schools program was an essential ingredient of the longevity of the eisteddfod, especially the opening choirs day.
Choirs began singing in 1908, apparently predating the eisteddfod itself.
Mrs Axtens said the opportunity to sing on stage, and the preparation involved, gave young children the chance to grow their self-assurance and improve their concentration.
"Music is a major learning block," she said.
"It's vital, even nursery rhymes when you're little," she said.
"Getting up on stage in front of a large crowd is a way of making them confident enough to speak in front of people."
"It's good for your health and confidence."
And singing in a choir was a great way to start.
"Whether you sing in tune doesn't matter, because it blends in," she explained.
The main eisteddfod opens with vocal and instrumental program from August 29 to September 5, with spoken word on September 6, dance from September 8-17, and troupes on September 13and 14.