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Partnerships between Britain’s orchestras and schools are crucial to children’s development, a new report by the Association of British Orchestras has found.
Unlocking Potential, launched yesterday, describes how music can increase children’s alertness, engagement and creativity at school, and how exposure to orchestral music when young can lead to a musical career at the highest level.
More than 300,000 children in England alone now experience an orchestral concert during their time at school. Unlocking Potential details the education work that orchestras do both inside and outside schools across the UK, highlighting over 50 projects.
All Classic FM's Orchestras are praised for their education initiatives. The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra’s Tuning into Children programme is deemed ‘a major success…, making a significant contribution to the personal, social and emotional development of children and of communication, language and literacy skills’. Tuning into Children involves RLPO members delivering child-led music-making sessions for children aged one to five, parents, carers and practitioners in children’s centres in Liverpool.
Unlocking Potential acknowledged that bespoke approaches are necessary when working with very young children. The Royal Scottish National Orchestra’s Monster Music programme, was specifically designed for pre-school children, and has been running for over 10 years. Pre-concert teacher training sessions and resource packs have recently been introduced, so that the children can benefit even more from the concert experience.
Northern Sinfonia’s Voice Over project was designed to encourage older and younger children from various schools to interact with one another. The project explored the orchestra through the human voice and was loosely based on the concept of accessibility.
The Philharmonia, renowned for its digital initiatives, developed Sound Exchange, an online music education resource aimed at secondary school students and beyond. It provides a range of dynamic and interactive music activities including dictation exercises; mini documentaries; podcasts; top tips from orchestral musicians; photos; and sample sequencing software.
The London Symphony Orchestra’s On Track initiative is praised by the report as ‘pioneering’. It gives schoolchildren in 10 East London Boroughs the chance to create live performances. Karen Brock, Head of Tower Hamlets Arts Music Education Service said, “London Symphony Orchestra’s On Track brings professionals from very different music services together to share resources and develop innovative work as we move towards the London 2012 Olympic Games. It will give us a musical focus and an opportunity to work together in a way that is truly creative and supports musical excellence.”
Hon Ed Vaizey MP, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries commented on the report: “It is no surprise that seeing and hearing orchestras has such a positive impact on young people. We know that music can make a huge difference to educational success, with behaviour, well-being, confidence, team working and concentration skills all proven to improve with good music provision. I welcome this report, and its finding that British orchestras are reaching young people at every stage in their lives.”