project was launched in September 2006 just in time for the European
Year of Equal Opportunity for Everyone
in 2007. It is truly inclusive.
Sr. Bernadette Sweeney with Minister for Education, Batt O'Keefe
|It fulfils the vision
Bernadette Sweeney, who wants every child to have the chance
to find their own inner creativity. The children do not pay for the use
of instruments or the tuition. Every child is
child in St Agnes' School, including 60 Early Start children and
boys classes from Scoil Colm - a total of almost
400 primary and secondary school students - receive weekly violin lessons in school. The instruments
and tuition are provided without charge to
the parents. No child is disadvantaged by the inability of a family to
support an out-of-school activity.
from round the world has shown that cognitive development, literacy and
numeracy skills and above all attention
focus benefit enormously from learning a musical instrument at a young
How the project
boys from St Agnes' School grow up and move across the road at 2nd
Class to Scoil Colm, they continue to be part of
the project. Boys in Scoil Colm 2nd cross the road again on Wednesdays for their
weekly violin lessons. Boys in 3rd to 6th who are in the Junior
Orchestra and St Agnes/Scoil Colm Primary School Orchestra also come
for weekly lessons.Secondary school students continue to come to St
Agnes after school once a week for their lessons.
introducing the programme from Junior Infants, every child experiences
the benefits, supported by music teachers
and class teachers who join in the violin classes with enthusiasm. The
support of the whole school staff has been key
to the development of the project within the school. The
children start learning to read music from 2nd Class. Some children
choose to play low string instruments, and so are
learning to read alto and bass clefs as well.
| The project is
Joanna Crooks, former general manager of both
Dublin Youth Orchestras between 1981 and 1996 and of the National Youth
Orchestra of Ireland from 1996-2006. Coming to
the project after more than 25 years of involvement with youth
orchestras, it was no surprise that Joanna Crooks saw
the formation of a string orchestra in St Agnes' School as a key
component of the project. Joined in the team by
Nicole Hudson, violin/viola, Pauline Cavanagh, a former member of the
RTE National Symphony Orchestra, and Eimear
O'Grady, cellist and actress, together they teach the children and
train the orchestra in readiness for the conductor, Seamus Doyle, who also teaches double bass.
benefits and activities
children gain confidence through performance, and gradually develop a
sense of their own contribution to group, and
with that a sense of commitment and increased self- esteem. In a very
short time both the project and the Primary School Orchestra have had some
astonishing successes. Pupils and
past pupils of the school have gained places at competitive auditions
in Dublin Youth Orchestras, a remarkable
achievement in such a short time. DYO is opening the door to a
lifetime's involvement with music these
young players.Two players recently joined Fingal County Youth Orchestra.
the school won the RTE Lyric FM Moladh an Cheoil /Music in School
Award. This was followed by an TIMES
Living Dublin Award in December 2007 and in February 2008
by an Irish Aviation Authority Youth Achievement
Award received at the Festival of Youth Orchestras organised by the
Irish Association of Orchestras.
In March 2008 the Orchestra won the Miller Cup for Primary School
Orchestra at the Inter-Schools Festival
at Wesley College, and were runners-up in 2009. The Orchestra takes the
Royal Irish Academy of Primary
School Orchestra Examination in June each year. They gained 95%
in the examination of the
Royal Irish Academy of Music in June 2009, and
performed on Sunday 1st November in the Shelbourne Hotel at the Dublin
Region permanent tsb High Achievers'
Concert. In June 2010 they received 92% in the same exam. In 2010 they performed for the first time at Dublin Feis Ceoil.
members with Sr. Bernadette and prizewinner's cup
opportunity is taken to bring music from the school into the community.
String ensembles perform in St Agnes' Church for
parish masses for St Patrick's Day and for celebrations of First
Communion. The Orchestra has performed for the
Crumlin Mental Heath Association.
pupils are able to continue their lessons at St Agnes when they move to
secondary school and are entered for the Royal Irish Academy of Music
individual Grade exams. At Christmas children perform a Christmas tableau with
carols at Caritas Nursing Home, Merrion,
and at the School for the Blind. In 2007 and 2008 the senior string
ensemble has performed for the Christmas
Carols and Concert of The Sanctuary Stanhope St. St
Agnes' Parents' String Orchestra was formed in February 2010, and by
June 2011 has 60 members. This orchestra has two rehearsal sessions per
week, on Monday evenings and Tuesday mornings.
St Agnes/Scoil Primary School Orchestra has
given concerts in other primary schools, including St Brigid's National
School, Stillorgan, Scoil Chaitlin Maude,
Killinarden, Tallaght, and Castleknock Educate Together School, and St
Mary's Hospital and Residential School, Baldoyle,
(St Michael's House). In November 2010 the orchestra performed in the
O'Reilly Theatre, Belvedere College, in a concert which was attended by
six local primary schools.
the double bass players in the school have been taught by Seamus Doyle,
principal double bass of the RTE Concert
Orchestra, and an outstanding teacher and music educator. He also
conducts the orchestra, St
Agnes/Scoil Colm Primary School and the major concerts in June and December when St Agnes Parents' String Orchestra joins the children's orchestra.
'Side by Side' day
been several highlights in 2009 and 2010. St Agnes' CYO have been the performed
on stage at the National Concert Hall,
Dublin, on 7th February, during the Irish Aviation Authority 2009
FESTIVAL OF YOUTH ORCHESTRAS, organised by the Irish
Association of Youth Orchestras. This was a wonderful occasion, with a
large number of parents, friends and relatives
in the audience to support the children. On Saturday June 20th
thirty five adult musicians [professional, amateur,
student] join St Agnes' CYO in a SIDE BY SIDE concert at 6 pm in the
school hall. Adult players and young players
will be seated 'side by side', making a vast string orchestra to
perform a spectacular summer sundown concert
with free admission to the general public, including relatives and
friends. The door stands
open always to welcome visitors and they have come in significant
numbers from Thurles, Limerick, Galway and all
over the city of Dublin.
annual summer camp takes place for one week in July. This is open to
members of the primary school orchestra, past pupils in secondary
school and the Parents' String Orchestra - a wonderful example of
intergenerational learning! In 2011 and 2012 the summer camp orchestra gave
a lunch time concert on in Christ Church Cathedral,
Dublin, at the end of the week.
RTE Concert Orchestra gave a concert in St Agnes' School Hall on Friday
8th April 2011, National Live Music Day, and the RTE Vanbrugh String
Quartet gave a workshop concert on Tuesday 10th May 2011 - both
milestone events in the musical life of this project.
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project in the school has received considerable media attention and
interest from outside the school. Mind the Gap films
considerable time in St Agnes' Primary School, as part of their
documentary film Music Changes Lives directed by Mike
Casey which was broadcast on RTE early in 2010. The project
has been featured on RTE
Morning Ireland, RTE2 News2Day, in the Sunday Tribune,
and was covered in January 2009 by Arminta Wallace in a major
feature in the IRISH
TIMES. See our Media Page
for a list of TV, radio and press features. Music Changes Lives
received a Radharc award and was re-broadcast in October 2010 as part
of RTE's Big Music Week.
involved in the team at St Agnes' knows that the project is still in
its infancy. There is an enormous amount still to
learn and develop. Funding must be found annually to sustain the
project. If this is possible, it will certainly continue
to bring a world of music alive in the future for countless
children and young people in Crumlin.