New London Orchestra logoThis research evaluation (completed, October 2006) focused on the workshop activities of the New London Orchestra in inner city schools that were designed to explore the potential for music making to enhance children’s literacy skills and creativity. The research team sought to assess the extent to which the Orchestra's aims for the project were realised by adopting a multi-methods approach in two case study schools. The methodology included a short-term, longitudinal empirical study, with various sources of quantitative data being collected (i) in advance of the NLO's first weekly workshop and then, again, (ii) once the workshops had been completed.

The research instruments used to collect the longitudinal, quantitative data were:

  • The Reading Attitudes Questionnaire (Sainsbury and Schagen, 2004);
  • The Hodder test of Reading Comprehension (Vincent and Murray, 2000);
  • 'My Musical Life' Questionnaire, drawing on Sloboda and O'Neill's (2001) 'Survey of Musical Participation' instrument;
  • A test of basic musical aural and practical attainment (drawing on the conceptualisation underpinning the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music's preparatory grade aural test), plus qualitative data from interview, focus groups and field notes.

The data revealed little obvious correspondence between the music activities and literacy skill development. There was a positive impact, however, on pupil and teacher attitudes to music and musical instruments. One additional outcome has been a bid by the NLO for additional Local Authority funding to facilitate a redesign of the NLO's workshops to promote greater links between certain aspects of music (i.e. rhythmic skills and notation in composition) with key aspects of reading competence. If successful, it is intended that the IoE research team will be involved in both the planning and evaluation stages.

project team...

  • Professor Graham Welch, IoE
  • Ross Purves, IoE
  • Dr Marion Long, IoE
  • Joy Castell-Evans, IoE

selected project public output...

  • Purves, R., Long, M., Castell-Evans, J., & Welch, G.F. (2006). The New London Orchestra Music and Literacy Project: A Research Evaluation. London: Institute of Education. [pp49] [ISBN 1-905351-05-4]

contact information

· Professor Graham Welch · New London Orchestra official website