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Nottingham Communities Work In Harmony With Professional Musicians

  • Date: 11/02/2013
  • Category: General

An innovative project which aims to improve pupils’ attendance and achievement through music will see teachers learning to play a musical instrument for the first time alongside their pupils.

Andrew Sharp, Head of Robin Hood primary school in Bestwood Park, Nottingham, starts learning the cello this month alongside 160 of his pupils – thanks to a three-year In Harmony programme in the city funded to the tune of £575,000 from Arts Council England and the Department of Education.

Nottingham City Music Service, which is the lead partner in the Nottingham Music Hub  on behalf of Nottingham City Council, is working in partnership with East Midlands professional orchestra Sinfonia Viva and the University of Nottingham on the three year In Harmony programme which is launched this month.

Professional musicians will work with more than 1,200 children and members of staff at over three years at four primary schools – Dovecote in Clifton, Mellers in Radford, Robin Hood in Bestwood Park and William Booth in Sneinton.

The project will start with the musicians helping the teachers and pupils choose the musical instrument they would like to play and introducing them to live classical music with performances by the Orchestra in the schools.

The pupils and teachers will then receive an intensive and wide-ranging programme of creative music- making support during school hours and with after school activities with individual and group tuition. 

Young people from the local community will be invited to join orchestras, and neighbourhood bands and there will also be family learning sessions.  There will be extensive opportunities for young people to perform on stage alongside professional Viva musicians.

As well as building self confidence and esteem through group performance activities, In Harmony aims to inspire young people, their families and the local community to either start learning or progress onto higher levels of playing a musical instrument.

Andrew Sharp said: “It is a privilege to be involved in this project which will no only give pupils access to expert music tuition, but will support the development of valuable life skills, showing them just what they can achieve with practice and perseverance.

“They will be learning alongside members of staff, many of whom are new to music,  including myself and we obviously hope that the In Harmony project will have the knock on effect of improved attendance, achievement and motivation across the school.”

Peter Knott, Regional Director of Arts Council England, explained: “In Harmony is a programme which offers children from deprived areas the opportunity to achieve their full potential through an intensive music experience based on the symphony orchestra which also has positive impact on their communities.

“It has so far just been based in Lambeth, Liverpool and Norwich where it has been credited with steering young people away from drugs and crime – providing an intensive music experience for around 1,000 children in three of the 25% most deprived wards in the country.”

Councillor David Mellen, Nottingham City Council’s Portfolio holder for Children and Families, said:  “In Harmony  will help children who otherwise might not get the chance to learn an instrument to discover all forms of music. 

“A lot of children in our schools now learn instruments, with more than 600 performing in the Royal Concert Hall before Christmas. In Harmony will build on this.  

“We were one of just six projects in the UK to win the funding award to set up In Harmony which is a tribute to the strong reputation for musical education in Nottingham already and a recognition of the opportunities that are available through Nottingham City Music Service and Sinfonia Viva.

“Over the years I have heard marvellous music from Nottingham’s young people and I am looking forward to hearing much more.”

Peter Helps, Chief Executive of Sinfonia Viva, which is the region’s only professional orchestra, continued: “The Orchestra has a national reputation for education work – bringing thousands of young people together to compose and then perform a wide range of music on the stage alongside professional players.

“In Harmony is a wonderful opportunity for our players to work intensively with young people, their families and the wider communities over a long period- introducing many of them to orchestral music for the first time in a fun and interactive way. 

“The long term and intensive nature of this project means we have a real chance to have a transformational and permanent impact on the young people with whom we are working.”


Media enquiries:

Sarah Jenkin-Jones, JJPR, Tel: 01332 515102/07951 945665;

Note to Editors

Nottingham City is the 20th most deprived district in the country.   Nottingham City Music Service  has overseen the transformation of music education in Nottingham with 1,399% increase in the number of pupils learning instruments from 500 in 2000 to 7,493 in 2011.

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