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In Harmony

  • Date: 27 September 2010
  • Area: North
Group of primary school children playing violins and cellos

West Everton Children's Orchestra, In Harmony. Credit: Royal Liverpool Philharmonic

An innovative community development project is making a real difference to a group of young people and the community in which they live. In Harmony uses music to bring positive change to the lives of very young children in some of the most deprived areas of England.

The project is inspired by the hugely successful Venezuelan project El Sistema, which transforms the lives of children living in disadvantaged communities across Venezuela through the formation of children's orchestras.

Since March 2009, children and staff at Faith Primary School in West Everton, Liverpool have been working with Arts Council England regularly funded organisation the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic in one of three national pilots for the project. 

Led by Artistic Director, Sally Anne Anderson - who is also a violinist with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra - the In Harmony Liverpool team have been making music part of everyday life at the school.

Music is now at the heart of everything the school does, helping to develop the children's aspirations, self-esteem, concentration, creativity and teamwork, involving families and the whole community.

The daily music programme includes group instrumental tuition on violin, viola, cello and bass for all the children at Faith Primary School, who are aged 4-11 years. The entire school also comes together every Friday at the Liverpool Philharmonic's rehearsal venue, Liverpool Phil at the Friary, to play music together as the West Everton Children's Orchestra.

Independent evaluation is reporting In Harmony's impact, with significant statistical increases in children's educational attainment in reading, writing and numeracy and major improvements in self-esteem, confidence, pride and well-being.

The percentage of children improving by two national curriculum levels or more through SATS and Optional SATS tests in reading has increased from 36% in 2009 to 84% this year. Numeracy has increased from 35% in 2009 to 75% in 2010.

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 have exceeded expectations in educational attainment.

In Harmony has helped Faith Primary School to improve its official assessment rating by Ofsted

Peter Garden, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic's Executive Director (Learning and Engagement) said: 'In Harmony has established itself as a central part of life in West Everton. It has brought everyone together as a team, helped develop the learning community of Faith Primary and generated huge enthusiasm and pride in parents and families throughout West Everton.'

Sally Whittle, Relationship Manager, Music, Arts Council England added: 'Taking part in the arts can change lives for the better and this simple yet powerful truth is demonstrated by the amazing success of In Harmony Liverpool. The children from Faith Primary School and the way their day to day lives and their future prospects have been enriched by their participation in this project are at the heart of this success. Their teachers and support staff at the school, their families and friends and the community in which they live have also been and continue to be changed for the better by the making and sharing of music.'

In Harmony Liverpool is led by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, in partnership with Faith Primary School, West Everton Community Council, Liverpool Music Support Service, The Shewsy and the musicians, staff and students of Liverpool Hope University.

The In Harmony pilots run until March 2011 and are funded by the Department for Education. The other two pilots are taking place in Lambeth and Norwich. In Harmony is chaired by internationally renowned cellist Julian Lloyd Webber.

For more information on In Harmony Liverpool visit: http://www.liverpoolphil.com/193/in-harmony/changing-communities-through-music.html