Thanks to a restructuring, and a change in the funding system for In Harmony Sistema, the continued existence of the project in Norwich was in some doubt, towards the end of last year. When its DfE Grant was cut, In Harmony Norwich was discontinued.
I found the decision to cut the funding to In Harmony Norwich unfathomable. It was a short-sighted and stupid choice, and one which I suspect was motivated more by money and “image” than by a genuine concern for musical education.
On a personal note, I was disappointed not to get to be involved with In Harmony any more – I had spent a whole year working on this exciting and ground-breaking project, and had seen first-hand what a positive effect it was having on the children and the schools involved. I had enjoyed my time on the project, and I felt that I also developed and grew a lot as a person during the course of that year.
But I feared that the much more damaging implications of axing In Harmony Norwich would be what happened to the children involved, when the rug was pulled from under them – in a music education sense. I couldn’t stand the idea that talented and motivated children, who had spent several years learning an instrument, playing in orchestras, and benefitting from all the wonderful experiences that ensemble music can provide, would suddenly – almost overnight – be left with nothing to show for that.
That is why I am delighted that the project in Norwich is continuing. Although not technically called “In Harmony Norwich” any more (as the project is no longer under the In Harmony England umbrella), the Sistema in Norwich project builds on four years of excellent work and development from In Harmony Norwich, and looks to grow and progress in the future, with more and more opportunities to get local schoolchildren playing and enjoying music together, and reaping all the rewards which those rich musical experiences have to offer.
I am currently working as the percussion tutor in Catton Grove Primary School with Sistema in Norwich. It is great to be back, and to know that the excellent work started by In Harmony Norwich is being allowed to continue – I look forward to seeing what the future holds for Sistema in Norwich, and I am proud to be involved in the next step of this exciting journey.