Music Generation Sligo’s mission to teach the rudiments of music to every child in Co Sligo is gathering pace with almost 3,000 children having benefited so far.
Latest figures provided by MGS show that in the past eight months 247 pre-school children, 2,460 at primary school level and 285 post primary students have participated in the anchor programme “Discovering Music”, a pre-instrumental course which will benefit 16,500 young people in the county over the next three years.
A novel feature of the ground breaking Music Generation Sligo initiative is that the six experienced tutors with an eclectic mix of musical backgrounds, have adapted the programme to suit all age groups and abilities.
“They have taught pregnant mums and babies in cots,” explained Jessica Fuller, MGS’s coordinator.
“We facilitate children with special needs and have devised a specific programme for children with autism, in partnership with Our Lady of Mercy Primary school,” she explained. “The emphasis of the programme is access – all programmes are linked to social services in Sligo”. Strong Music Tradition
The ‘Discovering Music’ programme is being offered, free of charge, to every child and young adult in the county. MGS is part of Music Generation – Ireland’s National Music Education Programme, initiated by Music Network and funded by U2, The Ireland Funds and a number of key local supporters including Sligo VEC, the lead partner.
Left: Reaching musical heights with the Music Generation Sligo Discovering
Music Programme. Toddlers, Matthew Smith and Megan McLoughlin come to
grips over a music note at the Springboard Project, Cranmore. Photo
Not surprisingly given the strong music tradition in Sligo, it was the first county to roll out the programme. Other significant MSG developments include the establishment of an instruments library at the Coleman Centre, Gurteen while five rehearsal rooms are being provided throughout the county and a performance programme will be launched in September.
The Discovering Music programme is divided into three tiers, one for pre-school groups including parents/guardians, another aimed at the primary school four to 12 age group and a third tier for 12 to 18 year olds.
Seamus McCormack, former President of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann and retired principal of Ballintogher primary school has as a MGS tutor been delighted with the response from pupils of all ages. “The programme appeals to all classes from infants right through to sixth class,” he pointed out. “Exposure to Music Generation Sligo has the capacity to encourage children to learn an instrument or to sing. It will also help young people to develop a greater appreciation of all genres of music”.
Sligo-born soprano Roisin Egan, another MGS tutor specialises in the pre-school and primary school sectors and has been delighting children by singing for them in the classroom. “When I was at primary school I really felt my singing talent was not noticed or nurtured so I am glad to have this opportunity to encourage kids,” explained Roisin who won a scholarship to the Royal Irish Academy at the age of 14.
“They benefit in so many ways from music classes. Learning to calculate rhythm can help their maths skills. But what I like best is seeing how their confidence grows in just six weeks”.
Every Child In Sligo
During the six weekly sessions, participating children are exposed to basic rudiments of music including rhythm, melody, introduction to note reading and writing, and are introduced to a variety of instruments. Story-telling through music, drawing to music, and listening to music, both live and recorded, are part of the experience.
The programme offers every child in Sligo the equivalent of approximately a half year of private music tuition during the six week programme but MSG liaises with schools to ensure that the tutoring does not interfere with the school curriculum.
A survey carried out by MSG showed that the feedback from schools and parents has been overwhelmingly positive. “It was the real highlight in our school year; every pupil was active and engaged - a wonderful learning experience” , said one teacher.
“MGS offers children a wide range of instruments that they might not otherwise have access to”, commented another.