I have always been impressed with the music scene in North Sligo.
A lot of my early piano students lived in the shadows of Benbulben, and so 12-15 years ago I got a real feel for the number of young musicians in the area who were passionate about their instruments, being in bands, writing music and making things happen.
Even in this timeframe only, this scene has produced top quality young musicians such as Jos and Ted Kelly from Moxie, most of the members of the bands Old Hannah and Oddsocks, and recent significant contributors to theme nights and other areas such as Luke Devaney, sisters Laura May and Mary Lenehan, and brothers Sam and Ollie White.
Colin Gillen ran a music venue in Barry’s for many years also, which meant that residents of the area were constantly exposed to touring bands of the highest calibre.
Today on Day 2 of the Ignition Tour, the sun was shining as I visited two national schools in the area – in Rathcormac and Maugherow – and it was clear to me that the music scene is alive and well still.
Indeed the teachers in Maugherow were as proud of the aforementioned White brothers and their achievements in music as other schools would be of graduates who had gone on to make it big in the business or sporting worlds.
I got treated to two performances in both schools – from a rock band playing original music, a choir and two traditional groups and it was lovely to see the students enjoying the experience of performing in groups.
Like yesterday, it was great to be around children and certain themes remained – the popularity of Queen among 10-12 yr olds is something to behold – and the honesty and innocence of people that age is always refreshing.
Today’s highlights included a boy telling me that his Mum was at the last theme night but didn’t enjoy it as much as the others (!), the pride in another boy’s voice as he told me that his auntie’s boyfriend comes to me for piano lessons, and the energy and joy that comes from a room full of children singing a song that they love at the top of their voices.
Teachers are the key though.
Today it was brought home to me how important it is in schools to have teachers who are willing to put in the extra yard when it comes to music and giving their time to the children in that regard. It’s not always the most glamorous job, but when you see the difference it makes to the children, it becomes clear that it is time very well spent and these people are a huge addition to the schools and the communities in which they work.