In what continues to be a challenging climate for the arts, international law firm Pinsent Masons has announced a second year of support for Opera North’s award-winning music education programme In Harmony Opera North.
While recognising the individual and social benefits of the programme on the lives of over 1,800 pupils in Leeds, Pinsent Masons was also impressed by how quickly and effectively the project had responded to the challenges of lockdown.
By broadening the assets available, the team ensured that all the children were able to continue accessing high quality music education while schools remained closed. Online materials were distributed weekly including videos of rhythm games and songs with accompanying art activities for the younger children, and explorations of Brahms’ Hungarian Dances, Grieg’s Peer Gynt, Elgar’s Enigma Variations and works by the African-American composer Florence Price for older pupils.
“Now more than ever we are delighted to be inspiring young lives with our support of the In Harmony project with Opera North.
“We were hugely impressed with the way Opera North adapted at such speed to continue the project despite restrictions, and with relatively little disruption to the programme. It is vital that these students continue to have some sense of normality in their school lives through the ongoing pandemic, In Harmony provides this. We have been able to see first-hand the positive impact In Harmony has on students and the community through regular updates and some short performances.”
– Jacqui Timmins, Pinsent Masons Head of Office in Leeds
In Harmony is now back in the classroom working in smaller groups to fit in with government guidelines. At Windmill Primary School, Low Road Primary School, New Bewerley Community Primary School and Richmond Hill Academy in Leeds, the team has resumed its work ensuring each child learns how to play an orchestral instrument before they leave for secondary school. While singing restrictions remain in place, this is supplemented by digital choral content which has been developed for use in the classroom and at home.
In addition, after school sessions have been adapted for secondary school pupils at The Ruth Gorse Academy. Live instrumental sessions mixed with supporting digital material are being delivered safely in order for the children to receive the best possible learning experience each week. The In Harmony team also teaches at The Stephen Longfellow Academy which works with students who are struggling to maintain a full-time place in mainstream education.
Embedding music in schools in this way has been shown to enrich the lives of both pupils and staff, as well as those of the wider community, raising aspirations and self-confidence as well as aiding the development of creative problem-solving and communication skills.
“The In Harmony programme continues to be an essential ingredient in ensuring the future success of our pupils. We were particularly impressed to see how rapidly the team moved the learning online following the outbreak of COVID-19 so that all our pupils were given the opportunity to continue their musical development from their homes. In the current climate, it is hugely reassuring to know that this flexibility exists.
“Long may In Harmony continue to change lives for the better”
– Andy Gamble, Executive Headteacher at Low Road & Windmill Music Federation
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