With the support of the Society for Music Education in Ireland and the DkIT Research Office Summer Undergraduate Research Programme, the ensemble led by Dr Adèle Commins and Dr Daithí Kearney travelled to Glasgow to participate in the International Society for Music Education World Conference. It was the second time DkIT have been selected following their performances as Ireland’s first ever performing group at the event in Brazil in 2014. The group also performed and facilitated workshops at Speyfest in Fochabers, which was this year celebrating 21 years.
The group included six students from the BA (Hons) Applied Music programme – Martha Guiney (flute), Brianna Madden (button accordion, vocals), Conor Bogue (banjo), Mike Waters (guitar), Ciara Brannigan (tin whistle, dance), Jane Meehan (fiddle). The group also featured flute player Maurice Mullen who is a student on the new MA Traditional Music Studies, an innovative online programme with students spread throughout the country.
The tour provided DkIT students with excellent experiences that complemented their course work. Dundalk fiddle player Jane Meehan felt that “meeting people involved with the music industry, like festival organisers and other musicians performing at the festival that had a lot more experience than I did really educated me on the world of music” . There were lots of challenges and for Wexford guitar player Mike Waters, “Getting tight as a group while showcasing the talent of individuals and keeping fresh while travelling was a challenge. Plenty of practice, sheer determination and enjoying what you're playing as well as getting on with the other band members are crucial to overcoming these challenges”.
As well as the performers, two undergraduate students on the BA (Hons) Film and Television Production accompanied the group to make a documentary to be aired this Autumn. For Directors Hannah Conroy from Dunleer and John McCallig from Donegal, this was a bigger challenge than they had previously undertaken. Hannah commented “This was my first time completing a 22 minute documentary and this meant it took much more time than previous shorter documentaries I have worked on”. For John the challenge lay in “being new to the trad scene and understanding the environment to record in”.
The entire group benefited from attendance at conference sessions, classes and lectures, performances by other groups, visits to museums and art galleries, and the experience of cultures of different parts of the world. For many of the group, the opportunity to perform to an appreciative audience was the best part. As Cavan accordion player Brianna Madden commented, “I felt that our performances were our major success. Putting in the hours of practice really paid off and I enjoyed every second on stage!”
The DkIT Department of Creative Arts, Media and Music has a dynamic and vibrant approach to the study of music and offers exciting and innovative programmes to both undergraduates and postgraduates in a proactive centre of teaching and learning, research and performance. Performances and films by staff and students enrich the cultural life of the Institute and provide opportunities for the Institute to engage with both the wider community and the rich cultural heritage of the region in which they are situated. International tours have reinforced the internationalisation of education at DkIT, raised the profile of the Institute and the region around the world and provided invaluable opportunities for students to gain industry experience.
Photo credit: Aengus McIennan Photography