Study highlights wellbeing benefits of Liverpool music inclusion programme

Concert on stage at Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, ticker tape falling

University of Liverpool psychologists have published a study about the social and emotional benefits of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic’s ‘In Harmony Liverpool’ programme, as it celebrates its 15th anniversary today (Monday 18th March 2024).

In Harmony uses orchestral music making to improve the life chances of children by increasing confidence, wellbeing, skills and resilience, enhanced by opportunities to travel, learn, perform and collaborate with professional musicians, international artists and other young people.

Findings from the newly released study shows that In Harmony Liverpool promotes resilience in its children and families via increased self-confidence, skills competence, self-knowledge, the development of social skills and the ability to face challenges. In Harmony also helps to increase inclusion and sense of belonging amongst its communities.

Findings show that whilst the programme cannot remove hardship or inequalities, it can and does provide families and children with life skills and resources that they can use to manage and adapt to stress both in and outside the programme, now and in the future.

In Harmony Liverpool

Launched in 2009, In Harmony has benefited over 4,000 children and young people. The programme is targeted at children with the greatest need – over 40% of In Harmony children are classed as living in poverty. Children and young people make music every week free of charge – learning an instrument, composing, singing, and rehearsing and performing a wide range of music in orchestras and ensembles in schools, throughout the community and in concert venues.

1,750 children and young people currently take part within and beyond the school day through partners including the above three primary schools, Everton Nursery School and Family Centre, Anfield Children’s Centre and through In Harmony Youth Hubs for 11–18-year-olds based at North Liverpool Academy and Liverpool Lighthouse. Many young people have gone on to perform in Resonate Youth Philharmonic, Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Company and the National Youth Orchestra’s Inspire programme.

University of Liverpool In Harmony Resilience Study

The report is authored by Dr Warren Donnellan and Dr Laura Soulsby, Senior Lecturers in the Department of Psychology at the University of Liverpool. The wider research team included Alice Oakey, Ciara Falvey, and Simon Worsley, Psychology graduates from the University’s Department of Psychology.

The study was conducted by semi-structured interviews between December 2021 and February 2022 with 22 parents/carers of children taking part in In Harmony Liverpool.
The full study can be found here:

Liverpool Philharmonic and the University of Liverpool are working in partnership to foster a programme of research in music and its role in health, employment and community development, providing solutions to significant issues facing the performing arts and public policy in Liverpool City Region, the UK, and internationally.

The aim of this partnership is to develop in-depth, longitudinal studies using research sites from Liverpool Philharmonic’s long-term community programmes, In Harmony Liverpool and Music & Health, as well as the University’s sector-leading work in Musicians Performance Science and heritage and wellbeing research. The aim is to build upon Liverpool Philharmonic’s existing evidence base that has measured the impact of its programmes for over ten years.

Dr Warren Donnellan from the University of Liverpool saidOur evidence synthesis found that musical learning is an important resource for children and young people’s social, emotional, and intellectual development. Unequal access to educational opportunities puts children and young people with fewer socioeconomically privileges at a disadvantage which is why programmes such as In Harmony are so vital. We’re proud to continue working in partnership with Liverpool Philharmonic to provide research and analysis of the impact of their long-term community programmes”

Michael Eakin, CEO of Liverpool Philharmonic, says: “As we celebrate 15 years of In Harmony, we are profoundly moved by the impact this programme has had on the lives of so many children and families in our communities. Through the power of music, In Harmony has created pathways for social inclusion, academic achievement, and personal growth, inspiring a generation of young musicians and changemakers.”