Young Ballymun Musician wins Higher Achiever's Award

Amy O'Neill, a second year student in the Ballymun Junior Comprehensive School, has been awarded a Higher Achiever's Award by the Royal Irish Academy of Music for her performance at a recent grade two music exam. Amy plays the tenor saxophone with the DIT's Wind Band project and was presented with her award at a special concert held in All Hallow's, Drumcondra on November 17th, 2002.

This young musician's career began in St. Joseph's Primary School where she played the recorder in a 'Breaking the Cycle' initiative. This scheme was so successful that a Wind Band project was put in place last September in coll aboration with the Department of Education & Science and the DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama. The work undertaken to develop music in St. Joseph's through this initiative has been unique and groundbreaking and exemplifies the positive a nd effective use of music as a tool for the successful engagement of pupils in the learning process.

Many of the students have since progressed to band instruments, forming bands in St Joseph's Primary School and in Ballymun Junior Comprehensive. Both bands are currently working on a brand new piece with acclaimed Irish composer Elaine Agnew which was commissioned by Ballymun Regeneration Ltd. to celebrate the rebuilding of the area.

Ron Cooney , Project Manager, who is very excited at the prospect of his students working with such a prestigious musician, said 'With the performance of this original work we are now contributing to the artistic life of the country on a national level'.

The project is due to finish in June 2004, leaving behind two bands and a teaching structure which enables children to begin playing music in first class and take it to Junior Certificate level. Based on past findings it is hoped the scheme will en courage children who are involved to develop discipline and to stay longer in full time education. It is expected that this will be a blueprint for similar projects around the country.

November 17 2002

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