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Social Action Through Music

In Harmony Liverpool
Playing at Home: How Families Engage with In Harmony Liverpool

 '...since this started, it's dead cool to play a violin in West Everton.'
- Ed Vulliamy, The Observer Sunday 3 October 2010

'The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra is one of the orchestral world’s leaders in its vigorous, wholehearted support of El Sistema.'
- Tricia Tunstall author of Changing Lives: Gustavo Dudamel, El Sistema, and the Transformative Power of Music (W. W. Norton & Co., 2012), writer and music educator who specializes in El Sistema in Venezuela, in the United States, and around the world.

In Harmony Liverpool

In Harmony Liverpool’s vision is a healthier, higher achieving future for Everton, one of England’s most disadvantaged communities. The programme aims to inspire children and their families to celebrate their community through music and to be a catalyst for them to gain the confidence to begin to change their own lives and to shape their future.

In Harmony is inspired by Venezuela’s El Sistema, and uses the power of orchestral music-making and the ethos and shared values of an orchestra to improve the wellbeing, skills, academic achievement, musical ability, and future employability of children, many of whom have learning difficulties, challenging family circumstances, or are otherwise vulnerable.

In Harmony emphasises intensive ensemble participation from the very earliest stage of a child’s development and uses daily music making, group learning, and the joy and fun of music, singing and dancing, to ensure that music becomes a constant part of life.

Since September 2015, In Harmony Liverpool works with over 700 children, young people and their families in the Everton Community. We work intensively across three sites, Everton Nursery School and Family Centre, The Beacon Church of England Primary School and Faith Primary School.

Our timetable includes:
•    Weekly orchestra rehearsal for all children aged 7 upwards, in four separate orchestras, at both primary schools
•    Twice weekly sectional rehearsals (group instrumental lessons for strings, brass, woodwind, & percussion) at both primary schools
•    Twice weekly after school ensemble Everton Junior Philharmonic for children aged 9-11
•    Everton Youth Philharmonic, after school provision 2 nights per week for 8-18 year olds,
•    Musicianship classes for Foundation Stage children at all sites, teaching children the foundations of rhythm, pitch, pulse and meter by fun games, songs and movement.
•    Weekly Tuning Into Children sessions, with Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra musicians, at Everton Nursery
•    Shake Up and Sing: whole school singing twice a week at Faith Primary School
•    Regular attendance at various ensembles by musicians from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, working with children 1:1 to enhance their playing, and performing for the young musicians
•    Master classes by world-class artists visiting Liverpool
•    Every young musician will perform in a large scale concert at least 3 times a year, in exciting local, national and international venues.
•    Side by side performances and rehearsal with Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and it’s conductors, including Vasily Petrenko and Andrew Manze
•    Tea and Tunes informal concerts in the community by RLPO musicians and small ensembles
•    Tots in Harmony sessions for parents/carers and babies under 3
•    In Harmony Liverpool Summer School
•    In Harmony at Home, providing live performances by children in their own living room for families and friends, accompanied and supported by professional musicians,
•    Four-weekly Parent Courses, providing parents and carers with the tools and skills to support their child’s music making
•    CPD for the teaching staff, and whole school staff at Everton Nursery led by Liverpool Philharmonic musicians
•    Delivering training alongside Everton Nursery for Trainee Teachers
•    Delivering Arts Award (national accredited qualification for young people).

Commenting on In Harmony provision in September 2013, Ofsted reported:

'The curriculum is carefully and thoughtfully planned. Music is a particularly strong feature and has an outstanding impact on the personal and spiritual development of the pupils, as they all receive four and a half hours of music support per week. Pupils are not only learning to play musical instruments but are developing a deep appreciation of music. Staff learn to play musical instruments alongside the pupils and they also perform together to a wide range of audiences, thus establishing an excellent learning community.’

Launched in February 2009 by Liverpool Philharmonic and our local partners, In Harmony Liverpool has benefited over 900 children from babies to 18 year olds, their families and the Everton community in North Liverpool through children playing instruments, creating music and performing regularly in orchestras and ensembles for up to 10 hours each week in and out of school.

In 2012, four new In Harmony local programmes were established in Leeds, Newcastle Gateshead, Telford & Stoke on Trent, and Nottingham, who join In Harmony Liverpool, In Harmony Lambeth, The Nucleo Project, and Sistema in Norwich in the English Sistema-inspired family. We also work closely with our friends Sistema Scotland, which operates Big Noise programmes in Stirling and Glasgow, and London Music Masters, which runs the Bridge music project in South London.

‘I saw the government’s In Harmony scheme in action in Liverpool and what an astonishing, inspiring experience it was… seeing it in action is the sort of experience that would make a music-educational evangelist of any politician.’
Tom Service, The Guardian Classical Blog

In Harmony Liverpool has been a catalyst for improvements in children’s academic progress and attendance across the Faith Primary School population since 2009.

•    In 2009, 28% of the school population were reaching national expectations in Maths and in 2014/15 82% of pupils did. In writing there has been an increase from 28% - 54% and in Reading, from 34% to 74%.
•    Test results at Key Stage 2 in July 2015 were heartening as this year group were the first to have gone through 6 years of involvement in In Harmony: 83% were at level 4 and above in reading and writing and 75% were at level four and above in Maths. This compares with the previous year when 70% were at level four and above in Maths, 80% in writing and 90% in reading.
•    “The test results at Key Stage 2 are important this year as they prove that after 6 years of involvement in In Harmony, there is no negative impact on progress and attainment of allocating curriculum time to music. The fact that we are maintaining progress with attainment is an unbelievable thing.” (Headteacher)
•    Evidence from the Head Teacher, school data, school teachers, parents, musicians and Ofsted school inspections highlights contributing factors including:
•    The development of cognitive skills through music;
•    Improved motivation to learn, enhanced concentration and focus in children;
•    Improvements in the culture of school as a ‘learning community’ through children and adults learning instruments and performing in orchestras together.

School attendance has increased 3.5% between 2008 and 2015 from 91.2% to 94.7%

In Harmony Liverpool has exceeded expectations in relation to musical attainment. The team have developed equivalent levels (not examined) and compare attainment against ABRSM grades.
•    In Year 4 and above, 84% of children are playing at Grade 1 or above, 61% playing at Grade 2 or above and 27% of children playing at a level of Grade 3 or higher.
•    73% of children are playing at a Bronze level (ABRSM Music Medals) by the end of Year 3. The medium term aim of the programme is that a majority would be at the Silver level by the end of Year 3, and this shows that In Harmony Liverpool is making progress towards this ambition, as over a quarter of children are now reaching this level, compared with none in the previous year.
•    Of the year six leavers 67% were playing at Grade 3 or above.
•    Two thirds of children continue music making on transition to secondary school.

Community Engagement continues to develop as the programme becomes more established:

•    Parental engagement with school and children’s learning is accelerating and deepening. Music is linking key events in families’ lives and becoming a normal part of life within the community;
•    100% of parents surveyed feel the In Harmony programme has helped develop positive relationships with their children and with the school;
•    Parents are proud of their children and young people in a collective way as well as individually;

“For our children and staff at Faith Primary School in West Everton, to be by taught by musicians from Liverpool Philharmonic, for them to become our friends, and for Liverpool Philharmonic to become like a second home to our community is something very special.''

“We’re all learning from each other, the educational attainment, health and wellbeing of the children is improving dramatically, and classical music is no longer a world that we are excluded from… it’s now our world, we love being in it and we love having the opportunity to share it with others.”
- Councillor Jane Corbett, Trustee West Everton Community Council

“I have lived in West Everton since I was a baby, and never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine I would see our children and their teachers playing in an orchestra, on stage at the Philharmonic Hall, making such beautiful music together! We are so proud of our children and what they are achieving, and we can see the difference it’s making not just to them, but to our families and to our whole community. This is a little bit of heaven we’ve been given and we’re keeping tight hold of it and not letting go!”
- Anne Roach, Chair West Everton Community Council

In Harmony Liverpool is part of In Harmony, the national programme to inspire and transform the lives of children through music-making.


For more information, please contact Zoe Armfield, In Harmony Liverpool Manager, on All media enquiries should be directed to Jayne Garrity, Head of Communications, on 0151 210 2895 and 


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