Documentary launched showcasing DIT's Ballymun Windband Project

DUBLIN, Tuesday 09 December, 2003 --A documentary detailing the past year in the life of the children of the Ballymun Wind Band project was launched today in the Axis Theatre Ballymun. Mr Brian Lenihan T.D. Minister of State for Health and Children officially launched the project.

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. They also took part in a video conference exchange with a school in Virginia in the presence of the US Secretary of State for Education, Rob Paige.

According to Minister Lenihan 'This video production gives ample evidence of what can be achieved when Music becomes central to the learning environment'. He went on to say that teachers 'seem convinced that involvement in the Wind band can have powerful effects in education and that these effects may reverberate far beyond the Music-making.'

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 Josephs 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.

The Band has been running in St Joseph's Primary in Ballymun for over two years and now includes a 40 piece wind band and a 30 piece string band. Ballymun Comprehensive has also benefited from the initiative and now boasts a 23 piece wind band thanks to the children bringing their musical expertise with them upon entry to second level. 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. Thomas Cooke, DIT Community Links Manager, '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 Band performed at the launch, which was attended by entrepreneur and supporter of the project Harry Crosbie, many local businesses, community members, councellors, and politicians.

The documentary was produced by DIT's Media Production Unit.

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