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Norwich pupils perform in London

PUBLISHED: 06:54 16 March 2010 | UPDATED: 08:52 02 July 2010

Steve Downes

Budding Norwich musicians who have benefitted from a government project to give them free musical instruments and tuition are heading to London to show off their skills.

Budding Norwich musicians who have benefitted from a government project to give them free musical instruments and tuition are heading to London to show off their skills.

The youngsters from Catton Grove, Larkman and Mile Cross primary schools have been taking part in the two-year In Harmony project, alongside youngsters from similar schemes in Liverpool and Lambeth.

Orchestras from each of the three areas will perform separately at Queen Elizabeth Hall (Southbank Centre) on July 7, followed by a joint performance, in the Clare Ballroom, of specially written pieces.

In Harmony Norwich was visited in November 2009 by children's secretary Ed Balls at Catton Grove Primary, where he took up a tambourine to accompany children in an ensemble choir.

In Harmony is being piloted for two years in areas of social deprivation, giving children free instruments and lessons by experts. Parents are also encouraged to get involved.

It is being run in Norwich by Norwich and Norfolk Community Arts (Norca).

Project director Marcus Patteson said: “We have been on a very steep learning curve this year, but it's going really well. The children have learned lots and it's having a great impact.”

Acclaimed cellist Julian Lloyd Webber, chairman of In Harmony, visited Norwich in May 2009 to publicise the scheme, which officially launched four months later.

Mr Lloyd Webber, who was among the judges who picked the Norwich project, said the scheme was about much more than the music.

“This is an area that could do with some help and I was impressed that this wasn't just another music education project - it's more about the community and social wellbeing.

“This is not about producing great musicians. Music has been allowed to slip out of the state school system but I have just seen children as young as two and three getting into the rhythm of the music.”

In Harmony was inspired by the El Sistema project in Venezuela, which encourages participation in music among children in poverty to help them grow and develop both socially and musically.

It was founded in 1975 and delivers music lessons to 250,000 children in the South American country. The UK project will run as a pilot until 2011.

t Do you have a schools story? Call Steve Downes on 01603 772495 or email steve.downes@archant.co.uk.

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