June 17, 2024

Project Harmony Students Develop Essential Skills and Feelings of Belonging

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Project Harmony, a community-based orchestra outreach program for students in grades 2-5, has an eight-year history of providing access to outstanding arts education plus all the benefits it brings.

A partnership between Arts+ and the Charlotte Symphony (CSO), Project Harmony helps students develop lifelong skills, including active listening, problem solving, collaboration, self-confidence, discipline, and patience.

When learning a new piece of music, students start by listening to a recording of the piece. They then break the music down into smaller pieces, allowing them to understand the importance of starting small and building on what they already know. Not only does this help students understand problem solving, but it also helps them create an environment that instills patience, self-discipline, and confidence over time. “It is always fun to hear students say, ‘That sounds really hard,’ or ‘We will never be able to learn that in time,’ after listening to a recording, knowing that, within just a couple of weeks, they’ll be asking to take their instruments home to perform for their families,” Arts+ Music Programs Manager Kinsey Fournier said.

Students attend Project Harmony twice a week. Classes focus on listening activities, movement activities to warm up the body, and instrument-specific exercises. Students divide into a strings group and a winds group to work on their performance music, coming together closer to performance times to hear the full orchestra. In a survey asking about their experiences in the program, students reported feeling “more confident,” “important and loved,” and “where I’m supposed to be.”

Both Kinsey and CSO Project Harmony Manager Michaela Sciacca love seeing how students grow their musical skills, self-confidence, and community over the year. “Students and teachers learn and improve together on their instruments, support each other, and create a special place for them all to come and experience music. This is so magical to see, especially since they only meet two times a week!” Michaela said.

Kinsey enjoys seeing students excited to open their instrument cases for the first time, show off what they have learned in just a few short weeks, and finish their concert on the grand stage. “These benchmarks throughout the year remind me how each student grows their musical skills and self-confidence within this program,” Kinsey said.

Project Harmony serves over 150 students from over 35 different schools in four under-resourced neighborhoods across Charlotte: Winterfield, Montclaire South, West Charlotte, and West Sugar Creek.

Arts+ is grateful for these partners that make Project Harmony possible: Charlotte Symphony, D'Addario Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Brungard Family Foundation.