An inner-city school where more than 50 languages are spoken has found a way to break down barriers — classical music.
Highbury Grove secondary is fast gaining a reputation as a hub for young orchestral talent, thanks to a mystery benefactor who has donated tens of thousands of pounds so some of the most deprived children in the country can learn to play an instrument.
The anonymous patron’s latest financial gift meant that yesterday all 210 pupils in year seven were handed a violin, cello or viola to keep while they are at the school.
It is planned that by September 2014 all students in years seven to nine — more than 600 — will be learning an instrument. Cherelle King, music administrator at the school, said: “Our benefactor doesn’t want his identity known.
Music can really transform these children. We have a lot of languages spoken and that can make life difficult in some situations, but we have found that music acts as a first language for everyone.
“Watching their faces when they got their instruments was fantastic. They are so engaged and excited.” The school, in the borough of Islington, follows the example of El Sistema in Venezuela, a project that gives the poorest children a chance to learn classical music.
Playing kiddie concerts right now, I understand the joy music can bring kids. Making music is even better!