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The Children’s Harmonica Orchestra of East London

In Spring 2009, 120 school children from 4 schools in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets were provided with and taught to play the harmonica, forming the first ever Children’s Harmonica Orchestra of East London.

Inspired by composer Paul Clark’s experience of teaching professional performers to play the harmonica for a Clod Ensemble production of Red Ladies, the project aimed to teach children, regardless of musical ability or skill set, the pleasure of playing together and to promote the understanding that high quality music can be accessed quickly, simply and at low cost.

Over a period of 6 weeks, each school group undertook a weekly harmonica lesson led by a professional musician and using a simple notation system. After mastering the basics, each class was taught a piece of music as well as a section of a specially written piece by composer Paul Clark, Harmonica Concerto No 1.

The programme culminated in a sensational final concert performance at an historical East London venue, York Hall in which each school group played their individual pieces, then came together to perform Harmonica Concerto No 1, led by world-renowned harmonica player, Julian Jackson.

For more information contact us


Links to the Curriculum

Key Stage 2 - Music
The project was delivered in Spring 2009 in partnership with Tower Hamlets Arts and Music Services (THAMES).

Participating Schools

Year 3 from Hague Primary School
Year 4 from William Davis Primary School
Year 4 from Guardian Angels RC Primary School
Year 5 from Bygrove Primary School

Supported by

The Clore Duffield Foundationís Performing Arts Award

Associate Artists

Leisa Rea and James Keane

Future Development

This project works best as an introduction to music for children and schools. It was piloted at schools in Tower Hamlets that had little or no music provision.