Keeping the music going - despite Covid-19

Music Generation, Galway’s first music hub has provided lessons for more than 100 children and teens

Seth Murray and Donnacha Carew on the drums.

Seth Murray and Donnacha Carew on the drums.

Against all the odds set by Covid 19, Music Generation Galway City - a new venture for teaching music to children and teens - has proven a resounding success.

Music Generation Galway City, part of Music Generation, Ireland’s National Music Education Programme, was launched in September in Galway Community College, Wellpark. Since then, seven tutors, offering classes in cello, concertina, drums, piano, guitar, bass guitar, ukulele, singing and electronic music, have taught 127 pupils aged between six and 17, for three evenings a week.

The task of setting up and running the hub fell to MGGC music development officer, Karen Dervan, and administrator Oli McHugh.

Robert Reaney Music Generation Galway City

Robert Geaney on accordion.

“Children and young people had to make huge sacrifices in spring and early summer to try to combat Covid-19," said Karen. "The online music-learning environment was the best we could do then, but it pales in comparison to the real thing. So we made a decision in June that we were going to offer live lessons in September, and just face up to the endless challenges of ensuring that decision is underlined by safety. This is why our groups are maximum three, and in certain cases, only two."

Karen has also publicly thanked Brian Melia and William Burke, the principal and vice-principal of Galway Community College, and the cleaning staff of Ann, Catherine, and Yvonne, for their help and support for the MGGC classes. "Without their work, we couldn’t welcome those 127 children and young people every week," she said.

'There has never been a more important time for kids to have positive things to occupy them and this gift of music is truly wonderful'

Sharon Morris has four of her children attending the Wellpark Music Hub each week. “Our experience has been just brilliant," she said. "We are involved in guitar, singing, and the trad group. In the absence of indoor sports, visitors, and play dates, it’s great to have music to turn to and I‘m so happy to see the kids picking up guitars and playing some trad tunes.

"The small group environment seems to work very well for my boys who didn’t really take to individual lessons in the past and the affordability of lessons has created this great opportunity for my family. There has never been a more important time for kids to have positive things to occupy them and this gift of music is truly wonderful. Thanks to Karen and her team."

Kate Gorham and Freya McNelis Music Generation Galway City

Kate Gorham and Freya McNelis on guitar.

The return to online classes may be inevitable in the face of the current second wave of Covid-19 but the tutors have pledged to "do their best to keep the fun and the learning going in that space".

Classes start from €5.50 and participants can also hire instruments at a low rate from MGGC. Music Generation is co-funded by U2, The Ireland Funds, the Department of Education and Skills, and Local Music Education Partnerships. MGGC is funded locally by Galway and Roscommon Education & Training Board, the Galway City Council, Galway City Partnership, Tusla, Foróige, Youth Work Ireland, and Involve.

Photos for this article were taken by Aengus McMahon.


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