When we make music, we open ourselves up to a host of benefits. These can impact many areas of our lives and can be enjoyed from a young age. With education budgets being squeezed, however, music provision for schoolchildren is under pressure. At this challenging time, the Harris Foundation for Lifelong Learning is delighted to be supporting Music for All. In a partnership that will span the next three years, the two organisations will enable schools across the UK to enrich the experiences of their pupils through music.

More than a skill for life

Making music is woven into the fabric of cultures and communities across the world. Now, a growing body of scientific evidence is exploring its far-reaching benefits. These range from improved cognitive performance to greater social connection and increased mental wellbeing.

Studies have shown, for example, that the act of learning an instrument can support brain development in a variety of ways. One review of the literature commented that ‘children who undergo musical training have better verbal memory, second language pronunciation accuracy, reading ability and executive functions’.

Other studies have focused on the social and emotional benefits of making music. Playing an instrument can build confidence, foster social connections and encourage self-expression. It can also be a way for individuals to release and regulate emotions.

In our modern world, these types of outcomes are high on many people’s agendas. However, the funding within our education system for musical instruments, tuition and equipment is reducing. Music for All reports a 21 per cent decrease in state school music provision in the past five years alongside a reduction in community support. With this in mind, Music for All’s valuable work is more important than ever. This includes providing much-needed funding to schools, communities and individuals through the charity’s various awards.

Harris Foundation Schools Progression Award

Last month saw the launch of the Harris Foundation Schools Progression Award. This is designed to support schools who are looking to enhance their music offering for groups. In particular, it aims to help schools elevate their existing provision and extend the experience of music making to even more pupils.

Groups supported through this award include ensembles, orchestras and informal groups. Successful applicants will be awarded £5,000 to put towards the purchase of instruments, studio equipment, specialised teaching support or other relevant items relating to the set-up of new music groups and/or the continuation of existing groups.

“Giving children the chance to play music from an early age is, I believe, an important part of their education. It sets them up with skills for life and provides a firm foundation for self-esteem. Playing as part of a group helps children to learn the value of teamwork. In addition, of course, they are able to experience the simple joy and satisfaction of making music with others.”

Jonathan Harris, founder and chair of the Harris Foundation for Lifelong Learning

Applying for the award

Music for All’s next funding round is now open. Schools can apply for the Harris Foundation Schools Progression Award until Friday 27 October 2023 at 11:59pm. For more information, visit Music for All.

Be part of the Big Give Campaign

Music for All is raising vital funds for its 2024 grants programme through the Big Give Christmas Campaign. This allows supporters to double the impact of their generous donations. 

If you would like to support Music for All with a minimum £100 pledge, please complete a pledge promise no later than 1 September 2023.

You can also donate money to the charity during the Big Give Christmas Campaign itself, from 28 November to 5 December 2023, for the chance to double your donation.