In Harmony Telford and Stoke has launched In Harmony Online, a new teaching method using digital technology, aimed at benefitting just under 900 children in Malinslee, Telford and Heron Cross, Stoke. The system is the answer to logistical problems associated with instructing the children at two centres, with teachers geographically spread throughout the country.
At the heart of the system is the encouragement of practice – both in the classroom and at home. Each week pupils receive an hour-long instrumental session with a member of a professional orchestra, such as the City of Birmingham Symphony or Manchester Camerata, and a member of the local music service. There is also a musicianship or practice session halfway through the week, and an hour of orchestral or ensemble music making at the end of the week.
In Harmony Online provides a range of professional practice tools and software that can be used by teachers without a music specialism to aid this practice schedule, including images and PDFs of scores and parts, large format scores shown on classroom interactive whiteboards, audio backing tracks, and inspirational videos. The digital practice system can also be used via laptop, tablet computer and smart phone to support learning at home.
‘The In Harmony programme in Telford and Stoke is a wonderful opportunity to bring instrumental learning into the lives of children who may never have had the chance otherwise,’ said string teacher and Manchester Camerata violinist Becca Thompson. ‘From the onset the delivery team involved in this project have had a vision of sharing skills and developing musicianship. Aural skills , improvising, colouring the sound with a mood and learning notation have been integral to the scheme of work.
‘We have happily included lots of ideas from great teaching methods but wanted an online facility of our own where teachers, parents carers and children could access and reinforce what was going on. Class sizes are big in our delivery sessions — 30 or more — so we micro manage our delivery to make the most impact and to ensure we are constantly giving the opportunity to be creative.’
In Harmony, England’s social and music education programme inspired by Venezuela’s El Sistema, seeks to transform the lives of children, young people and their communities through the power of music making.
Photo: Children from Heron Cross Primary, Stoke-on-Trent © In Harmony Telford and Stoke