Documentary showcasing DIT's Ballymun Windband Project to air on TG4

A documentary detailing the past year in the life of the children of the Ballymun Wind Band project will be broadcast on TG4 at 11.00 pm this Wednesday, 22nd December.

The 30 minute documentary, entitled "A Fanfare for Ballymun," was produced by the DIT Media Production Unit. It follows the lives of children from St Josephs Primary and the Ballymun Comprehensive involved in the Ballymun Wind Band.

The Band, which grew out of the Department of Education's `Breaking the Cycle' initiative, has had an eventful year. Along with numerous performances in the Axis Theatre and at a state governmental dinner, they became the first-ever school band to perform with the National Symphony Orchestra in the National Concert Hall.

According to Dr Tomas Cooke, DIT Community Links Manager "This Documentary gives ample evidence of what can be achieved when music becomes central to the learning environment. The teachers involved are convinced that involvement in the Windband can have powerful effects in education and that these effects may reverberate far beyond the music-making. The Bands' concerts and other public appearances are always hugely supported by the community and music is now firmly embedded in their lives.

The Ballymun Wind Band Project is an initiative of the Dublin Institute of Technology, the Department of Education and Science and the schools involved - St Joseph's Primary and the Ballymun Comprehensive. As part of the project all of St Joseph's 600 students are exposed to instrumental music making, which begins with recorder lessons in 1st class. This continues all the way through to their final year. From these lessons students are then selected to form a band that comprises an extensive range of wind, brass and percussion instruments.

Musician Ron Cooney, an inspired teacher, is the core of the project and has developed the abilities and knowledge of the young musicians to an extremely high standard.

The work undertaken to develop music in the schools has been both unique and groundbreaking. It exemplifies the positive and effective use of music as a tool for the successful engagement of pupils in the learning process. Participation in the Project benefits the students in a variety of ways and impacts on their development on a number of different levels. Reading music teaches the students to recognise patterns both aurally and visually from an early age. The actual playing of the instrument requires co-ordination of the intellect, the ear and the body and develops the memory. Students also develop discipline, social skills and responsibility through their participation in the project.

According to Dr. Cooke, `This is a wonderful community project with huge parental support and input. These children practice from 7.45 to 8.45 every morning which is a major commitment from all involved; parents, school staff, the community and of course the children themselves.

The project is also run under the auspices of the DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama, which offers a great wealth of music management expertise. As part of the project all of St Joseph's 600 students are exposed to instrumental music making, which begins with recorder lessons in 1st class. This continues all the way through to their final year. From these lessons students are then selected to form a band that comprises an extensive range of wind, brass and percussion instruments. Already, several students have been awarded scholarships to DIT's Conservatory of Music and Drama.

The documentary "A Fanfare for Ballymun" will be aired on TG4 at 11.00 pm on Wednesday 22nd December 2004

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