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In Harmony programme helps to improve educational achievement in West Everton

  • Date: 7 January 2013
  • Artform: Music
  • Area: North
children playing violins

When In Harmony Liverpool began in 2009, the Liverpool Philharmonic's expert team of music leaders was working with 84 children at Faith Primary School children in West Everton. Today they are working with 188 children and their families throughout the West Everton community. Music is part of everyday life at the school and 4.25 hours of curriculum time have been given over to participation in music. Music is now at the heart of everything the school does, helping to develop the children's aspirations, self-esteem, concentration, creativity and teamwork while involving their families and the whole community. The daily music programme includes singing and group instrumental tuition on violin, viola, 'cello, bass and percussion for all children at Faith Primary School from the age of four and they immediately become members of West Everton Children's Orchestra. From Year 4, children have the opportunity to learn an orchestral brass instrument.

The entire school also comes together every Friday at Liverpool Philharmonic at the Friary, a rehearsal and recording venue, to play music together as the West Everton Children's Orchestra. In Harmony Sistema England's chairman and renowned cellist Julian Lloyd Webber joined the orchestra in West Everton in November 2012 to play an arrangement of themes from Pirates of the Caribbean as well as performing a solo pizzicato Serenade by Benjamin Britten.

Independent evaluation has reported that In Harmony's impact has led to significant increases in the children's educational attainment in reading, writing and numeracy and major improvements in self-esteem, confidence, pride and well-being. For example: in a normal year at Faith Primary, around 20% of children exceed the teachers' expectations in academic achievement. In 2009/10, through the support and impact of In Harmony Liverpool, 78% of children exceeded expectations in educational attainment. 

Jane Beardsworth, Regional Director, Arts Council England said, "The In Harmony programme is an excellent example of work that supports the Arts Council's goals of ensuring that every child and young person has the opportunity to experience the richness of the arts and that more people experience and are inspired by the arts. I am pleased to see its success and look forward to seeing how the project progresses in the future."

Peter Garden, Liverpool Philharmonic's Executive Director (Learning) commented; "In just three years, the impacts of In Harmony Liverpool are already significant. However, it is still early days - the real, long term benefits of In Harmony will be achieved by maintaining this intensive and immersive approach to music making for a generation, and by fully supporting our amazing young people to fulfil their potential."

An international community of researchers are to debate the impact and potential long term contribution of orchestra-based projects on education, health and well-being, community development, economic development and regeneration. They will explore the findings of the Year 3 Independent Evaluation Report for In Harmony Liverpool which shows the project delivering an enriching musical education with consistently positive impacts upon participating children. The Institute of Cultural Capital, a strategic collaboration between the University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University, recently received a research network grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council to undertake this work.

The success of the In Harmony project has led to the funding for four new regional In Harmony projects across England, two of which are also based in the north of England. The Sage Gateshead will work with a school and nursery in Newcastle and Opera North with a school and children's centre in Leeds. You can read about In Harmony's work across the north of England here.