Our award-winning music education programme, In Harmony Opera North, is marking a major milestone as it celebrates teaching more than 4,000 children how to sing and play a musical instrument over the last decade.
“It makes me feel inspired and happy”
– Sean, 10, In Harmony student
Windmill Primary School in Belle Isle is the place where it all began ten years ago so, when their school joined us for a day of celebrations at the Howard Opera Centre recently, we asked their School Council about the difference In Harmony has made to them individually and why they think it makes their school a special place to be.
Being an In Harmony school means that every pupil in Years 3 and 4 gets the opportunity to play a string instrument in small groups under the guidance of dedicated tutors. At the end of Year 4, the students are given the choice to carry on with strings or to switch to a brass instrument instead.
Hope, who is 10 years old, is learning to play the trombone which he prefers to his first instrument, the viola:
“It’s very nice playing trombone especially when you get to learn new things from your tutor. It’s very inspiring and I just love to play.”
Jessica, 9, is in Year 4 and is currently mastering the violin. She tells us:
“My parents feel proud that I’m learning something new. I like the fact that we’re one in a million school where you get to play music.”
Musicianship is taught from the earliest years, while older pupils sing in a choir during the school day and get the opportunity to join the In Harmony Choir after school when they reach Year 5.
Lila is 8-years-old and a violinist, but she also really enjoys singing:
“It’s a good chance to learn something new. There’s lots I haven’t heard before but, when I’m in choir, I can learn it.”
“It’s fun because the music is fun.”
All the current pupils at Windmill Primary have grown up with In Harmony and therefore with music being an integral part of their school curriculum. We wondered if they could imagine what life would be like without it. Noah, 7, who plays the cello in Year 3 summed it up for everyone:
“Without In Harmony, school would be quite boring because when you play, it makes it more fun.”
Having the residency in the school has also had the knock-on effect of encouraging more parents to get involved. An 2018 Ofsted teaching and learning review at Richmond Hill Academy, which became an In Harmony school that same year, said:
“A clear impact of the work of Opera North in the school has been in the amount of parental engagement it has garnered. For example, it was standing room only for the Whistle Stop Opera performance last term.”
Rehearsing for the In Harmony 10th Anniversary concert © Tom Arber
To celebrate reaching its 10-year anniversary, a special In Harmony concert was held in the Howard Assembly Room. It featured the first performance by the In Harmony Choir and gave the young instrumentalists a stage to showcase their skills alongside members of the Orchestra of Opera North. As one of the pupils said afterwards:
“That was the best day of my life!”
As the project looks forward to its next ten years, the company has launched a Together in Harmony Giving Campaign to give people the chance to support the initiative. Both the tutors and children are already excited about the future.
“I definitely still want to be playing my cello when I grow up and my family feel quite inspired to play instruments too!”
– Derek, 8, In Harmony student