Music

Ulster Orchestra schools project Crescendo builds through Covid

The Crescendo workshop at Holy Evangelists' Primary School in Twinbrook (L-R): Ulster Orchestra player Jennifer Sturgeon, students Cara Fitzsimmons and Ruby Christie Whelan, Liam Hannaway, Arts Council of Northern Ireland chairman, Ulster Orchestra player Stephen Irvine and student Anthony Best

THE Ulster Orchestra's Learning and Community Engagement department has continued to run its primary school engagement project Crescendo during the Covid-19 pandemic.

A long-term collaboration with Belfast primary schools Good Shepherd, Malvern, Holy Evangelists' and Wheatfield, Crescendo provides pupils with access to high quality music education throughout their primary school careers.

All of these schools are situated in areas of marked social deprivation, with Crescendo currently reaching all children in P1 to P5 and some in P6 and P7 as well.

During the pandemic, the Learning and Community Engagement team has been providing weekly recorded workshops for all students. Videos were sent via schools to students during home-learning, with parents encouraged to join the workshops with their children.

Vulnerable children and those of keyworkers have been participating alongside their teachers in-school. Recently, one of the Crescendo associates was able to provide outdoor lessons at two participating schools, where she met some of her pupils for the very first time.

"It is an enormous privilege for all involved in Crescendo to be a key part of the education of so many children, and at no time more so than the present," says Jonathan Simmance, Ulster Orchestra animateur and Crescendo creative lead.

"We are all passionate about the creative arts, particularly music, and the role that they play in the development of our young people. To have been a constant presence in the lives of the schools, their pupils and their families during the pandemic has been challenging, but incredibly rewarding."

The project is supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and has been developed in association with The Greater Shankill Children & Young People Zone, Colin Neighbourhood Partnership and The Centre for Evidence and Social Innovation at Queen's University Belfast.

Liam Hannaway, chairman of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, says: "Crescendo is an impressive outreach programme that has benefitted hundreds of primary school children, instilling in them a great love of music from a young age.

"All of our annually funded organisations, like the Ulster Orchestra, have outreach programmes in place designed to reach people who otherwise might not have the opportunity to engage with the Arts.

"It's crucial that our young people get meaningful opportunities to learn and participate in high quality arts and music making. Research shows it's good for their wellbeing and confidence, it improves their mental health and academic performance, and it's just good fun too. Congratulations to everyone involved."

To learn more about the outreach work of the Ulster Orchestra visit Ulsterorchestra.co.uk

The Crescendo workshop at Holy Evangelists' Primary School in Twinbrook (L-R): Liam Hannaway, Arts Council of Northern Ireland chairman, Ulster Orchestra player Jennifer Sturgeon, students Cara Fitzsimmons and Ruby Christie Whelan, Ulster Orchestra player Stephen Irvine, Lord Mayor of Belfast Katie Nicholl and student Anthony Best

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