QUALITY, INCLUSION AND PARTICIPATION IN MUSIC EDUCATION NATIONAL CONFERENCE
On September 26th, a National Music Education Conference, Voicing 2012 addressed issues influencing the inclusion and participation of Ireland’s children and young people in music at Trinity College Dublin.
The aim of the conference was to understand how inclusion in music education can be increased so that all children and young benefit from this type of personal development, engagement with communities and participation in society. Organised by a coalition of partners - Music Generation, St Patrick’s College Drumcondra, Mary Immaculate College Limerick, Trinity College Dublin and Irish Music Education – the conference brought together a range of expertise from a variety of backgrounds, including practitioners, researchers, performers, education managers and policy makers working across all types of music.
Speakers included: Dr. Stephanie Pitts, University of Sheffield, Dr. Emer Smyth, ESRI, Brian Irvine, Composer, Ailbhe Kenny, Lecturer in Music Education, Mary Immaculate College Limerick, Shaun Purcell, CEO Sligo VEC and Tara O’Brien, DIT Music Student & former Ballymun Music Project student and Prof. Kathleen Lynch, UCD.
Music education plays an important role in enhancing and promoting learning opportunities for young people - a fact reinforced in the recently published ESRI report Growing Up In Ireland. Co-author of this report Dr. Emer Smyth speaking at the conference commented, “Research has shown that access to cultural activities, including music, within and outside of school enhances children’s development – participation in the cultural life of their community is every child’s right. However, children’s access to cultural activities often depends on their socio-economic background and on where they live. It is vital to enhance children’s access to these activities so that they have the opportunity to flourish.”
Keynote speaker Dr Stephanie Pitts (Univeristy of Sheffield) related new research on musical life histories, highlighting the mutliple experiences and influences that impact on musical particiation into adulthood. She claimed, “opportunities to experience music in school and at home are vital to immediate engagement and long-term interest in music”. Ailbhe Kenny from Mary Immaculate College in speaking of how to foster music within communities stated, “Success in music education is not about who goes onto third level and becomes a professional musician. It is about fostering a musical society, one where people of all ages engage and participate in a wide range of musical activities at varying levels.”
Professor Kathleen Lynch of UCD particularly called on the music education sector to look at how they are addressing inequalites in music education in Ireland. She referenced the Leaving Certificate as being particularly class-biased in that students who can afford private music lessons outside of school are at a particular advantage. She called for the need to “recognise our own insider status in education, and our role in excluding others”. Tara O’Brien, a first year undergraduate music student at DIT, spoke of her struggle in music education coming from Ballymun. She attributed parental support and local publically funded initiatives as essential to her pathway in learning music.
There were also live performances by former punk musician turned classical guitarist Redmond O’Toole and Mark Redmond from Na Píobairí Uileann who related their musical stories between playing.
Conference presentations can be downloaded below:
Ailbhe Kenny presentation here
Emer Smyth presentation here
Stephanie Pitts presenation here
Kathleen Lynch presentation here