My Story: the beginning
I’ve been delivering environmentally-themed workshops for several years. Here I cover how I came to use music to spread positive environmental messages as well as what these workshops entail. If you’re interested in workshops for your group or would simply like more information, feel free to contact me on the email address at the bottom of this blog post.
I was first introduced to fun music making almost 25 years ago, in Culdaff in Northern Donegal, Ireland, at a percussion workshop delivered by Su Hart and Martin Cradick of the Baka Beyond music group. I was hooked!
In the years that followed I attended a wide range of music workshops, including singing workshops with Frankie Armstrong and a week’s training in community music making with Dr. Phil Mullen.
From 2000 to 2008 I taught music in Crana College, Buncrana, and as music was not offered as an exam subject in the school at the time, I was able to take a creative approach to music education.
In 2005 I joined the newly-established Donegal Music Education Partnership under the stewardship of the visionary Evonne Ferguson. I had the privilege of collaborating on many innovative music projects.
All the while I was filling my well, so to speak!
Drawing from the well
I was determined to make my music classes in Crana College fun, effective and accessible from the outset. To do this I explored new ideas, tweaked old ones and created a few of my own.
I liked the idea of putting words to beats as a way of making it easier to learn basic rhythm patterns. I had seen this demonstrated during various music workshops and exploring this exercise in class was a starting point for a professional journey that I could never have imagined at the time.
With my concern for the environment growing and a keen desire to inspire my young charges to become responsible citizens, I began incorporating environmental messages into my rhythm exercises. My students quickly learned the rhythms so I knew the messages about littering and caring for the environment were in their heads to stay. There was no stopping me now!
Music Bridge: a new creative journey begins
2014 saw me launch my Environment the Musical educational resource for schools. Watch the short video here to find out more.
That year also saw an opportunity present itself that had me struggling with a life-changing decision. This was whether or not to sign up for the joint Cultúrlan Uí Chanaín/Musicians Without Borders Music Bridge training programme in Derry, in Northern Ireland.
I had just invested several years of blood, sweat and savings into developing Environment the Musical and was busy marketing this new and original product. I was well aware that I had one mammoth task already on my hands. It was decision time! Should I sign up for the Music Bridge programme? ‘NO!’ screamed my head. A slow, gentle rumbling stirred within me, then with a powerful surge my gut burst forth with a resounding, ‘YES!’ That was it, decision made!
I embarked on a creative journey with Musicians Without Borders (MWB) that would challenge me both musically and personally. Under the expert guidance of the MWB training team, I was inspired, moulded and lovingly nudged down a new creative path. A week’s training in 2017 on the MWB Training of Trainers course in The Netherlands was the icing on the cake.
At this point my well was full to overflowing. Always trust your gut!
You can learn more about Music Bridge and Musicians Without Borders here.
Environment the Musical-Themed Music Workshops
In 2016, I began delivering my own unique environmentally-themed music workshops in schools throughout Ireland on behalf of County Councils. The feedback from teachers was positive and from the reaction of the young participants I could see that my workshop formula was yielding the results I wanted.
What is an Environment the Musical-themed Music Workshop? It is a unique, fun and effective musical learning experience that works!
As with any workshop it is important to create the right environment where participants quickly feel safe and relaxed.
Workshops always begin with everyone seated, preferably on chairs, in a circle, and by ensuring there are no gaps in the circle there is no beginning and no end. This conveys the message that in this space everyone is equal.
The aim of every Environment the Musical-themed music workshop is to educate participants in a fun and effective manner about the importance of their role in caring for the planet.
Once I have established the age-profile and learning needs of each target group, my main objectives are to:
- Incorporate as much non-verbal communication as possible into the workshop. I find this helps engage participants from the outset as they quickly realise they have to pay attention to the workshop leader. It also eliminates the need to shout instructions.
- Demonstrate early on that the workshop leader is very serious about being ‘silly’. Participants will see they are in for a fun and interesting experience.
- Use interactive rhythm and musical exercises that also deliver simple yet important environmental messages.
- Teach catchy, easy-to-learn environmentally-themed educational songs.
- Give participants opportunities to be creative.
- Use age-appropriate visual aids to help reinforce understanding of vital environmental messages.
- Ask questions to further help engage participants during the workshop.
- Include opportunities for movement to help energise participants.
- Have short discussions to give participants the opportunity to express ideas and opinions.
That’s it! Simple really and in my experience simplicity is the key to success every time.
I am continually learning, tweaking and creating new content for my workshops.
Are you interested in environmentally-themed workshops for your class or school? Please get in touch to discuss how we can tailor a workshop perfect for your group:
Mobile: 00353 (0)87 926 4448