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Art of Listening Goes Global

An arts education programme developed by Edinburgh International Festival has today gone global. The International Festival’s Creative Learning team has spent ten days down under in Melbourne, Australia showcasing the Art of Listening workshop to teachers and children.

Creative Learning in Melbourne

The Creative Learning team outside the Melbourne Recital Centre - Melbourne, Victoria

Activity culminated today with an address by International Festival Head of Creative Learning Sally Hobson to an auditorium of arts education specialists at the launch of a brand new festival of arts learning to be held in Melbourne next year.

The Art of Listening has been running since the year 2000 working with older children in Edinburgh primary schools. A research team from global education specialists Project Zero - based at Harvard University - were commissioned by Independent Schools Victoria to assess the project, alongside their invitation to deliver workshops with the International Festival team in Melbourne. Findings in Project Zero’s report highlighted the programme as having unique and special qualities.

The programme works with professional musicians to give pupils what is often their first experience of classical music. Researchers found the programme effective in developing listening skills, encouraging enjoyment of classical music and breaking down pre-conceptions about listening to music. Through ‘focused listening’ exercises designed to engage pupils’ imagination and sense of self, stronger listening skills can be developed. A professional tenor and accompanist perform for the children in a small recital as part of the workshop, giving them a rare opportunity to experience live performance in an intimate setting.

Art of Listening, Melbourne Recital Centre

The Art of Listening set up in the Melbourne Recital Centre

‘As a one-time, two-hour program, it seems to have a surprisingly powerful impact on the students,’ the Harvard research team reported. ‘There is also evidence that the programme cultivates a deeper relationship with the imagination through the use of music and art and that it encourages listeners’ personal responses to music’.

International Festival Director Fergus Linehan said: ‘I am hugely proud of the International Festival team who developed and now deliver these fantastic sessions to hundreds of children every year here in Edinburgh, and now internationally. It is a truly world-class initiative and now it’s going out across the world. Our creative learning work is a hugely important part of our activity throughout the year and I believe the International Festival has a role to play in stimulating young people’s experience of the arts, not just here in Edinburgh, but internationally too’ 

Read more about the Edinburgh International Festival's Art of Listening programme

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