Huge potential for Westmeath’s music generation

The response to the Music Generation project in Westmeath has been described by its coordinator as “staggering”.

Music Generation is a music education partnership which is philanthropically funded by U2 and The Ireland Funds, as well as local authorities.

Margaret Broome, who is development officer for the programme in Westmeath, told members of the Housing and Culture SPC this week that the response has been incredibly positive since she took office in June last year.

Schools said they didn’t expect to see the cross-curricular developments in students in areas from language to performance to social interaction, she said.

Just 12 counties made it through the highly competitive process and Westmeath is unique as togethert with Offaly, it is the only county working as part of a group.

On just one part of the project, The Kodaly Programme, there are 1,500 children in big and small primary schools, in rural and urban areas learning music through singing.

The number of schools involved in the Kodaly Programme is expected to increase from 20 to 30 over a three year timeframe.

A choral project involving Athlone Community College and secondary schools in Emper and Moate, will see young people take part in a performance workshop in Dublin in April.

Four tutors working with children in this area were trained by a specialist choral master flown in from the USA by Music Generation nationally.

Ms Broome agreed with the SPC chairman Cllr Mick Dollard that Music Generation is about personal development as well as music education.

The Westmeath/Offaly team is developing training partnerships with the Kodaly Institute and DIT Conservatory of Music.

The next strand of the project involves creating a bank of musical instruments.

It is expected that children from fourth class to the age of 18 will have a chance to learn an instrument with a team of professional musicians and teachers who are part of a panel already in place.

Ms Broome said she and her colleagues are now seeking funding for instruments and she envisages that there will be scope for teaching string, wind, brass, and percussion instruments.

She said the success of the programme so far is “staggering” and schools are contributing significantly to the project.

She was urged by Cllr Dollard to “keep up the good work”.

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