For a little over year now, we have been working in a local school, which has just been re-named St. James’s National School, having been called Mater Dei NS in the past.
The school is based in an area of multiple disadvantage, largely bypassed by the gains of the Celtic Tiger, and yet the school has a very proactive staff and curriculum which involves a lot of arts activities. While some of them are ‘rough diamonds’ the pupils in the school love playing music, and are very enthusiastic about their samba sessions every Friday.
Several factors make this project especially successful:
- It has the full support of the school
- We are there every week, which allows for a good rate of development of ideas
- The project is well resourced in terms of instruments and equipment
- The kids are a pleasure to work with
- We have developed a methodology which works well, based on years of experience of working in similar communities.
At the end of each Friday, an hour is given over to the development of a school band, made up of some of the more enthusiastic students from the 3rd, 4th and 5th classes (aged roughly 9-11). This group has a little more time to develop slightly more involved repertoire, and has represented the school at several local and national events.
After Christmas, we have the unenviable task of selecting a new school band, which will be very difficult, as there are a lot of very talented and enthusiastic children, especially as the numbers in the school have increased significantly, due to an amalgamation with another local boys’ school. In the meantime, here is a short clip of the current school band in action:
This video was shot by Conal Early, and the piece is called Cup of Tea Reggae, a piece we learned many years ago from Cubby Cuthbert.
The project in St. James’s is funded by the Early Focus Programme and City of Dublin Youth Service Board.