Bono’s money may be coming to young musicians in Westmeath if an Arts Office application for Music Generation Funding is successful.
Westmeath and Offaly arts offices are joining forces to apply for the funding which could see up to €200,000 made available for projects for under-18s.
In a presentation to Westmeath County Council, arts officer Catherine Kelly outlined the patchy approach to music education for young people, dependent on parents’ ability to pay, or the goodwill of an enthusiastic and talented music teacher in schools.
And while there are many choral opportunities in the county for adults, there are not enough for teenagers and children, and the application aims for “high quality, accessible music education for the children and young people of Westmeath and Offaly”, as well as making music an everyday, enjoyable activity embedded in their lives.
This is the last chance for councils to apply for such funding, which was recently granted to Laois and has seen a broad spectrum of musical opportunities offered to young people.
These include Glee clubs, Schools of Rock, choirs, and classes in instruments as diverse as the Uileann pipes offered as part of an extremely successful programme.
The Offaly/ Westmeath plan centres around an early-years, child-centred Introduction to Music programme, centred around the principles of the Kodaly music education.
If successful, the plan will be developed in conjunction with the Kodaly Society of Ireland, DIT’s Conservatory of Music and Drama, and the Association of Irish Choirs.
The intention over five years is that all pre-school children moving into the primary system will receive music education throughout the primary cycle. The programme envisages an introduction to music for children aged 7-9 (in whole class groups ), a pre-school introduction to music for children aged 3-5, and instrumental tuition for children over nine in small groups over 30 weeks a year.
There will also be workshops, masterclasses, and bands for older children, including an opportunity for teenagers to learn music through youth cafes.
An instrument bank will be provided to ensure all children can access music education.
If the application is successful, a full-time Music Generation coordinator will be appointed and a part-time administrator.