Early Years Music Education Seminar: Beginning the National Conversation, presented by the Department of Education and Skills and Music Generation, took place on Thursday May 15th 2014 at the Clock Tower, Department of Education and Skills, Dublin. The seminar provided a space for those involved in Early Years Music Education offered by Music Generation around Ireland to come together to find out and celebrate what is happening nationally, learn from one another, be inspired and consider what comes next in Early Years Music Education in Ireland.
Curated by Frances Shanahan, the Seminar featured a fascinating keynote address from Dr. Susan Young, Early Childhood Music Specialist, UK, entitled “Young Children and Music: Choices and Challenges” – a recording of Dr. Young’s speech can be heard here. The seminar programme also included Discussion Workshops where co-ordinators, musicians, partners and early childhood care and education personnel involved in the Music Education Partnerships shared their stories, aspirations, successes and challenges in Early Years Music Education. These discussions, where context and quality are common threads, concentrated on programming and training as well as issues of support and teaching structures. Music Generation Co-ordinators Gemma Murray (Louth) and Paula Phelan (Carlow) presented on their Early Years Music Education programmes, MUSIC Matters, and Little People, Big Voices, followed by The Musician as Reflective Practitioner in ECCE was presented by the Curator. SoundWorlds - Music Generation Mayo, Discovering Music - Music Generation Sligo, Stepping Tones - Music Generation Wicklow, The Kodály Programme - Music Generation Offaly/ Westmeath, The Music Box - Music Generation Laois were also featured, along with information on the Early Years Music Education programmes of Music Generation Cork City, Music Generation Limerick City, Music Generation Clare and Music Generation South Dublin.
Soundviews – sounds and videos of children, images and resources from Music Generation’s Early Years Music Education programmes were on view during the day.
This event, the first in a series of National Conversations led by Music Generation, was chaired by Ellen Cranitch, Music Generation Board Member and well regarded RTÉ Producer. Continuing the discussion on this important, exciting and emerging field of Early Childhood Music Education, the seminar concluded with a Round Table discussion where Catherine Hynes, Early Years Policy Unit, Department of Education and Skills, Arlene Forster, Director of Curriculum & Assessment, NCCA, Dr. Patricia Flynn, Music Department, St. Patrick’s College Drumcondra and Frank Walsh, Director, Athlone Education Centre, assisted in grounding the final thoughts of the seminar participants within an Irish context.
An Early Years Music Education Working Group composed of Catherine Hynes, Early Years Education Policy Unit; Mary Hough, Director, Sligo Education Centre; Gemma Murray, Co-ordinator, Music Generation Louth/Early Years Music Practitioner; Frank Walsh, Director, Athlone Education Centre; Arlene Forster, Director of Curriculum & Assessment, NCCA; Rosaleen Molloy, National Director, Music Generation and Frances Shanahan, Musician/Music Educator has been working on this initiative since Autumn 2013.
Music Generation Early Years Music Education Programmes:
1. Louth - MUSIC Matters
2. Mayo - Soundworlds (view photo showreel here)
3. Sligo - Discovering Music Pre-School/Early Years
4. Carlow - Little People, Big Voices
5. Wicklow - Stepping Tones
6. Offaly/ Westmeath - The Kodály Programme (view video footage here)
7. Laois - The Music Box
8. Cork City - Early Years Music Education programme (view Happy Talk Raps, presented by Cork City partnership and GMC Beats - valued partners of Music Generation Cork City).
9. Limerick City - Early Years Music Education Programme
Recent recipients of Music Generation funding:
10. Clare Fair Play! Pre-School and Fair Play! Primary A
11. South Dublin Ready Steady Sing and Ready Steady Play
Music Generation is Ireland’s National Music Education Programme, initiated by Music Network and funded by U2 and The Ireland Funds, together with Local Music Education Partnerships. Music Generation helps children and young people access high quality subsidised music education in their local area. To date some 18,500 children and young people across eleven counties are participating in the programme. The Department of Education and Skills has committed to co-funding the programme with Local Music Education Partnerships on a phased basis from July 2014.