El Sistema (The System)
The founder of the renowned music programme El Sistema in Venezuela has died this week. Jose Abreu was 78 years old and died on 24 March 2018. Abreu began the project in 1975 with the aim of bringing free music to children who wouldn’t otherwise be able to access any form of music in their lives. It now consists of over 400 music centres and 700,000 children learning music every week. The programme incorporates four hours of music per week. The very first music sessions that Abreu ran involved eleven students in an underground parking garage! In Harmony was founded in the United Kingdom to mirror the scheme that Abreu had established.
In Harmony (Music Education Project)
British cellist Julian Lloyd Webber is the founder of In Harmony and was the Chairman of the group who ran the first three pilot projects in Liverpool, London and Norwich. The purpose of In Harmony is to bring positive change to the lives of children in disadvantaged areas of England. The program encourages schools to engage students in participation in music encompassing all instruments of the symphony orchestra. The benefits are huge and go further than the classroom – it helps in the wider community and has proven to encourage community cohesion. The project has now expanded to Newcastle, Leeds, Nottingham and Telford & Wrekin. In Harmony employ specialist music teachers through organisations in the six areas of England who provide the equivalent of peripatetic music lessons in schools, often in small teams to incorporate different instruments being learned at the same time in schools.
In Harmony aims to be inspirational for children and their families and the community that they live in and to raise the expectations of children through music education. It is immersive as in the children learn different instruments together several times a week and from an early age – the scheme runs in primary schools. In Harmony seeks to engage all children in the school that it operates in – it isn’t limited to a specific year group or a selective group of children. The children learn whilst playing in an orchestra together – with string instruments children can play on open strings and be a valued member of the orchestra which means they are involved right from the start. The children are encouraged to help each other, and equally to observe the progress they can make as a team.
In Harmony is funded by Arts Council England and no student in the In Harmony project pay for their instrument or lessons. The whole purpose is to bring music to those who wouldn’t otherwise have any chance of learning an instrument.