Negotiating the challenges of the pandemic has been tough, but it has also been a huge privilege to provide access to quality music education for the children taking part in Crescendo. Music helps with almost every aspect of a child's education, it is great fun & it helps them with their emotional self-regulation. Our kids have perhaps never needed access to music more than they do now! Anne Harper, Crescendo Assoicate, Good Shepherd PS, & Crescendo Clarinet Tutor
Learning and Community Engagement is at the heart of our work and the COVID pandemic has thrown up exceptional challenges. Nowhere is this more evident than in the flagship Crescendo project and it is a huge testament to the project’s team that Crescendo has continued to deliver, despite the circumstances. The Crescendo showcase is a highlight of any Ulster Orchestra year and this year the celebrations were particularly special.
Since 2016, the Ulster Orchestra’s Learning and Community Engagement department has been working with its community partners, The Greater Shankill Children & Young People Zone, Colin Neighbourhood Partnership and The Centre for Evidence and Social Innovation at Queen’s University, Belfast, to develop and run Crescendo. Crescendo is a long-term, immersive collaboration with four Belfast primary schools, Good Shepherd, Malvern, Holy Evangelists’ and Wheatfield, which all lie within areas of marked social deprivation. Currently reaching all children in P1-5, as well as some in P6 & P7, the programme aims to give pupils access to high quality music education throughout their primary school careers.
Despite the profound impact of Covid-19, Crescendo has continued throughout, adapting at every turn and providing weekly recorded workshops for all students. These have ranged from the very first sessions for the current P1 students to beginner instrumental tutorials for students in P5 who had only just begun to play their instruments in March 2020. Videos were sent via schools to students during home-learning, with parents encouraged to join the workshops with their children, while keyworker and vulnerable children participated alongside their teachers in their schools. As soon as we were able, we went back to give schools weekly lessons in person, albeit outside, and instead of bringing all four schools to the Ulster Hall, each had their own special performance from the Crescendo tutor team and Ulster Orchestra musicians.
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. We are all passionate about the creative arts, and 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, and we can't wait to get back into the schools. Jonathan Simmance, Ulster Orchestra Animateur and Crescendo Creative Lead
The weather played its part and we had four fantastic sessions of music, singing and celebration in the grounds of each school. And we even had a special guest at Holy Evangelists', as we were privilged to be one of the new Lord Mayor of Belfast, Kate Nicholl's first engagements!
It's so wonderful to see these young people developing their interest in music and their knowledge of musical instruments. And it's important not just because arts and creativity are important, but the skills they're getting from it - listening and working together - and also aspiration. Some of these children have said they wouldn't have touched a musical instrument before, or had an interest in it, and now they do, so it's wonderful to see.
Cllr Kate Nicholl, Lord Mayor of Belfast
The Belfast Telegraph and Irish News both covered our Crescendo events - huge thanks to them and you can read their coverage by clicking on the name of the paper.