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Liverpool Philharmonic, one of the UK’s most forward-looking music organisations.

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 West 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 Liverpool is about creating a community that supports one another, about both personal and community success, and about creating an environment in which children feel safe and challenged. We want children to develop a sense of their potential, the endurance and resilience to realise that potential, and the confidence to rise to the challenges in their lives. The orchestral community helps to instil a sense of self-value, of feeling respected and appreciated, and of the importance of trust and cooperation.

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. At the heart of the programme is the West Everton Children’s Orchestra (WECC) and its associated ensembles. On starting school, a child chooses an instrument and becomes, from that day, a member of WECC, joining every other child in the school, as well as their teachers, head-teacher, and other children in West Everton. The children have regular engagement with musicians from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, masterclasses by artists visiting Liverpool, enjoy regular visits to concerts, and even have live performances in their own homes. Prior to starting school, children of nursery and reception age are exposed to weekly preparatory music sessions.

By using music as a catalyst for social change in this way, In Harmony is demonstrating an effective and holistic approach to improving the life chances of children and families. Crucially, they are themselves the agents of this change. Children are happier, more confident, and achieving above the expectations of their teachers. Creating real and lasting change will take a generation, but our first five years indicate the huge potential of In Harmony.

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 350 children from babies to 16 year olds, their families and the West 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 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 is:

  • Using music to bring positive change to the lives of young children aged 0-16 years in West Everton and delivering significant benefits across families, Faith Primary School and the wider community;
  • Encouraging participation in music – through the West Everton Children’s Orchestra, West Everton Super Strings, associated ensembles and daily, immersive music making – to bring about huge personal benefits for children involved and providing opportunities for them to grow and develop, both socially and musically;
  • Led by Liverpool Philharmonic with local partners including Faith Primary School; West Everton Community Council; Liverpool Hope University; Resonate Music Education Hub; The Beacon CE Primary School and The Shewsy.

In its first 4 years, In Harmony has had a dramatic impact in West Everton:

  • Significant increases in children’s educational attainment in reading and numeracy and improvements in self-esteem, confidence, pride and wellbeing;
  • Attendance figures at Faith Primary School have improved with a significant decrease in absence rates across the school;
  • The programme has expanded the age range of child participants and is currently catering for a total of 211 children and young people aged 0-16 years. This represents a 250% increase in scope and reach within the programme since the first year in 2009, when 84 children aged 3-11 years were involved.
  • Since the programme began in February 2009, In Harmony Liverpool has engaged a total of 302 children and young people and their families in West Everton.
  • Whilst all primary school aged children at Faith Primary School are accessing up to 4.5 hours per week of music making in curriculum time, in 2012/13, 62% of those children participated in after school provision including brass, percussion and chamber string ensembles – participating in up to 10 hours per week.
  • 100% of the children and young people engaged in the full orchestral programme in 2012/13 performed at least 3 times in this year, with 77% participating in 5 or more performances. Young people in West Everton Super Strings presented 11 performances across the year.
  • A total audience of 2,832 people from West Everton and the City attended a total of 27 In Harmony Liverpool performances throughout the2012/13 academic year.
  • Outstanding progress achieved in children’s musical ability as individuals and an orchestra through the intensive, immersive and high quality approach to music led by In Harmony Liverpool Artistic Director Rod Skipp;
  • Improved Ofsted result for Faith Primary School; and
  • Increases in pride, wellbeing and engagement throughout the West Everton community, with reports of improved parent-child relationships and examples of parents themselves returning to education.
  • All staff at Faith School, including Head Teacher (double bass), teachers, and school secretary, learn an instrument alongside the children, strengthening relationships between child and teacher and developing the culture of the school as a learning community.

‘In Harmony is transforming the school and has brought a new energy to our community.’
Sister Moira Meeghan, Head Teacher, Faith Primary School

The Programme

Led by a team of Liverpool Philharmonic musicians, every primary aged child in West Everton has the opportunity to learn an instrument from aged 5, and immediately becomes a musician of the West Everton Children’s Orchestras.

The orchestra as a form is crucial. For an orchestra to succeed, it must be greater than the sum of its parts. Every person has a role to play. It combines leadership, teamwork, discipline, communication skills and respect with friendship, great fun and positive social experiences. It develops the foundations of musicianship through the enjoyment of learning, rehearsing and performing as an ensemble of musicians.

West Everton Children’s Orchestra began in April 2009; one day after children had picked up an instrument for the first time. Just 12 weeks later, they performed for 600 friends and families at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. They now regularly perform to great acclaim at Liverpool Philharmonic’s concert venue for audiences up to 1,000 people, and have performed at world-class venues around the UK, such as the Royal Albert Hall and London’s Southbank Centre on two occasions as part of their Nucleo festivals.

In Harmony Liverpool has also been at the heart of several key events in the City of Liverpool, with young musicians playing their instruments to wake the Little Girl Giant in Stanley Park as part of the “Sea Odyssey” festival in April 2012, and performing as support act to the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra at the On The Waterfront Festival in July 2012.

2012/13 saw In Harmony Liverpool’s first ever overseas performance, with a group of 15 children travelling to Derry- Londonderry to perform in the Millennium Form as part of their UK City of Culture events.

And in September 2013, 39 children from In Harmony Liverpool joined the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, and Liverpool Philharmonic Children’s Choirs to perform at London’s prestigious Royal Albert Hall as part of the BBC Proms. The family matinee concert “The Big Proms Bear Hunt” was based on Michael Rosen’s much-loved book, and sold out extremely quickly, with a packed audience of more than 6000 children and adults. The Family Prom was a wonderful testament to the children’s musical abilities and achievements, supported by the professional musicians and conductor Matthew Coorey.

“Is it the loudspeaker announcing the Liverpool Philharmonic Music Express train at Lime Street Station or the first note struck upon the Royal Albert Hall stage?

Or is it the sight of a chaotic conga weaving its way around a usually sedate Proms audience, or the parents’ proud homecoming cheers as the performers walked down the railway platform back in Liverpool after an exciting two days.

Whichever of these moments makes the deepest impression in the memories of members of the West Everton Children’s Orchestra and the Liverpool Philharmonic Children’s Choir – and I suspect it is all of them and many more – it may take years before they look back and realise the extent of their achievement.”
Laura Davis reviews The Big Proms Bear Hunt at the BBC Proms 2013, The Liverpool Daily Post

In Harmony Liverpool’s weekly schedule includes:

Sectional rehearsals (group instrumental lessons) on violin, viola, cello and double bass twice weekly at Faith School
Sectional rehearsals (group instrumental lessons) on violin, viola, cello and double bass once weekly at Beacon Primary School
West Everton Children’s Orchestra rehearsal each Friday afternoon for any primary aged child living in West Everton
Twice weekly ensembles to include: West Everton Super Strings (Years 6 – 11 Orchestra);  West Everton Junior Strings(Years 4-6 chamber ensemble), Woodwind, Brass and Percussion sectionals
Weekly ensembles to include: West Everton Mini Strings (Years 2-3 chamber ensemble); and Concert Band
Shake Up and Sing whole school singing each morning at Faith and a commitment to enhance choral development within the project
• Weekly 
Shake Up and Sing sessions with children from other West Everton primary schools to enhance choral development within the project
• Twice Weekly 
musicianship classes for those in Nursery and Reception at Faith Primary School
• Weekly 
musicianship classes for those in Year 1-3 at Faith Primary School
• Weekly 
composition classes for those in Year 4-6 at Faith Primary School
• Regular attendance at various ensembles by the 8 
Ensemble Coaches - musicians from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra who regularly attend sessions throughout the year and perform alongside ensembles
Master classes by artists visiting Liverpool
• Regular 
high profile performances including London’s Royal Albert Hall, Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, Derry UK City of Culture, and chamber performances at the prestigious St George’s Hall Concert Room in Liverpool city centre, all including musicians from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.

During the summer holidays, the programme includes the In Harmony Summer School, a week of fun music making, art activities, and games. During the year, the team have continued to offer In Harmony at Home, providing live performances by individual or small groups of children accompanied and supported by professional musicians in their own living room for families and friends, prioritising and targeting those children and families yet to receive a home visit.

Children, families and community members regularly attend Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Chamber Music Series events at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall and St George’s Hall Small Concert Room. We also run Tea & Tunes, a series of informal classical music concerts by small ensembles from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in community venues and churches in West Everton, including performances, talks, demonstrations and practical music making for the whole community, all in an informal atmosphere over a cup of tea.

In Harmony Liverpool is supported by an extensive, longitudinal evaluation study, and in 2012 we worked with the Institute of Cultural Capital, Liverpool John Moores University, University of Liverpool, Royal Northern College of Music, Liverpool Hope University, our evaluation team and project partners and supporters to establish and develop the In Harmony Liverpool Research Network.

In Harmony is already highlighting the potential of music to transform schools and learning, strengthening families and communities. In Harmony is providing a powerful, inclusive model to support every child to fulfil their personal, social, educational and musical potential.

“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 supported by Arts Council England, the Department for Education, Youth Music, Liverpool NHS Primary Care Trust, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Liverpool Philharmonic, Oglesby Charitable Trust In Harmony Fund, The Eric and Margaret Kinder Charitable Trust, The West Lancashire Freemasons Charity, The Rayne Foundation, The Granada Foundation, Faith Primary School, Austin & Hope Pilkington Trust, Liverpooljazz and private donors.


In Harmony Liverpool

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

In Harmony Liverpool is supported by:

Paul Hamlyn FoundationNational Foundation for Youth MusicLiverpool John Moores University2020 Decade of Health and Wellbeing

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 .


In Harmony Liverpool 6th Birthday Concert

Stewart Copeland with In Harmony Liverpool

Five Years of In Harmony Liverpool

West Everton Super Strings perform Praeludiam from Grieg’s Holberg Suite

West Everton Children’s Orchestra perform Grieg’s In The Hall of the Mountain King

West Everton Children’s Orchestra perform a medley from Pirates of the Caribbean

West Everton Children’s Orchestra perform What Makes You Beautiful by One Direction

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