Music Generation

Clare, Kilkenny vocal educator in action in one of our primary schools

By: Sinéad Blanchfield

Music Development Officer, Music Generation Kilkenny  
E: sinead.blanchfield@  

Music Generation Kilkenny is forging forward in 2021 with a great line-up of programmes and events across schools and the community in Kilkenny City and County

The mission of Music Generation is to transform the lives of children and young people by giving them access to the breadth of high-quality performance music education, enabling them to develop their creativity, reach their full potential, achieve self-growth and contribute to their personal development within a vibrant music community.
“We want to make sure that everyone, whatever their background, gets access to music tuition.” Bono, U2
Since its inception, the programme in Kilkenny has grown and developed offering programmes of performance music Education in schools and in the community.
I was appointed to the role of Music Development Officer for Music Generation Kilkenny in February 2019. Prior to my appointment I had been travelling extensively abroad performing as a professional Opera singer. I grew up in Kilkenny where I started my life in music and I was delighted to return to my hometown to take up this important role. I feel passionate about nurturing young talent and I felt that I could bring my experience as a performer and educator to the role in a practical way.
I am proud of our young musicians and our Musician Educators who took centre stage in the recent virtual St. Patricks Day Festival Kilkenny presenting two performances especially created for the festival. First up was our young Uilleann Pipers with master Uilleann Pipers Pádraig Butler, Mick Foley and Leonard Barry. The weekly online sessions since last Summer have given these young pipers a lifeline at a time when in-person music-making has stopped. Their performance was showcased during the festival.
Rithim Glasa highlighted the talents and skillset of three of our Musician Educators and drumming luminaries Jeremy Hickey (R.S.A.G, Rhythm Makers), Tom Duffy (RhythmRiot) and Mark Colbert (Damien Dempsey, Black Bank Folk) who performed an original and up-lifting drumming piece composed especially for the St. Patrick’s Day Festival. Both performances can be seen on our youtube channel.

In February this year I was inspired to create and offer some additional FREE workshops to all primary schools that weren’t currently engaged in our programmes. In light of the changed and changing world, continued lockdowns and restrictions, it came to the fore that children’s social, creative and developmental needs had been curtailed and reduced significantly. I wanted to offer something to the community that would enable our young children to express their best possible selves through music and creativity in a fun and engaging way.
Our skilled musician educator team have paired up to deliver the exciting and engaging weekly sessions to whole class groups, initially at home and then over the whiteboard when they returned to school in March. The children are enjoying body percussion, movement, musical games, junk drumming from junior infants up to sixth class.
Musician Educator Clare Kilkenny, vocal educator on the team said “this is a wonderful way to enrich and inspire primary school children with high quality and fun performance music education during lockdown and also helping to engage socially with these wonderful young people in our county. The pairing of tutors is a brilliant opportunity for us to support, encourage, learn and deliver the best skills we have as experienced musicians”
We received a huge response to these workshops! Over 20 schools came on board to accept our free sessions and we are delivering the programme to 2,441 children. Speaking about the impact of the programme on pupils Principal Niall Bergin said,
“We are delighted to be taking part in the Music Generation Programme. Despite the difficult circumstances we find ourselves in, the extremely professional tutors are delivering an engaging, dynamic, creative and fun music programme to our pupils. The beauty of the programme is that it is accessible to all and little or no resources are needed to take part .The programme really adds to the atmosphere in our school and it is uplifting to see the children thoroughly enjoying the classes. Classes are pitched at an appropriate level for all ages and the staff here in CBS Primary School couldn’t recommend Music Generation Kilkenny highly enough”.

Through partnership with Kilkenny County library we are developing a suite of online workshops throughout this year. ‘Crash, Bang & Wallop’ rhythm workshops return for more fun and rhythmic antics for age 6-12-year olds over the Easter break. Primary school children – get your saucepans, boxes, shakers, sticks ready and any other junk drums you can find for this fun and engaging workshop. Saturday 3rd April. Early booking is advisable!
Back by popular demand ‘Music for Toddlers’ with Karen McMahon – March 30th, 31st, April 1st at 11:15-12:00pm. Karen was featured in a series of toddler music videos produced for Kilkenny County Library Service in the Summer. These workshops are all about fun through song, dance and imagination. Music Generation Kilkenny’s musician educator, Karen, will have your toddlers moving, rocking, clapping, playing and listening in a friendly environment.
Early booking is advisable! or 056 7794160

Building sustainable partnerships is vital for the success of Music Generation Kilkenny. I am delighted to have formed a partnership with Fóroige developing the Creative Music Space at the DRUM, MacDonagh Junction Shopping Centre. During this Thursday afterschool music hub, young people between the age of 8-18 have the opportunity to learn Drums, Guitar, Ukulele, Vocals.
We will launch an after-school ‘Trad music hub and Trad ensemble’ in Castlecomer after the Easter break, in partnership with Foróige. This is a new and exciting opportunity for young traditional players of primary school age to get involved in weekly lessons and performance opportunities on the following instruments: Fiddle, Bodhrán, Flute, Whistle, Mandolin, Banjo and Concertina.
The hub will start online and will move to the Courthouse in Castlecomer with the easing of restrictions. It’s all about giving access! Instruments will be available to rent for young players who want to take part but don’t have access to an instrument.
Registration: or message us on Facebook – (musicgenerationkilkenny)
Music Generation Kilkenny is part of Ireland’s national music education programme, initiated by Music Network and co-funded by U2, The Ireland Funds, the Department of Education and Skills and Local Music Education Partnerships. The programme seeks to transform the lives of children and young people ages 0-18 by creating access to high quality, affordable music tuition in their localities. Locally, the programme is led by Kilkenny and Carlow Education and Training Board in partnership with Kilkenny County Council.

Previous Kilkenny’s Kieran to take helm at Nestle
Next Now, it’s an Oscar nomination for Wolfwalkers