First up in our Junior Journalist series – Shannon Harkin.

IMG_20181105_173153We have a small army of singers and musicians, but they are talented in so many other ways. Our new series of articles by junior journalists, and interviews in our Student Spotlight segment will let you know more about the world our students live in and what they think about music and life! Our first story (below) has already been picked up by the Inish Times, and is a lovely piece written by Shannon Harkin, 5th class Scoil Naomh Padraig, Drumfries!

Five Reasons why I love The Music Box by Shannon Harkin

Every Tuesday from 5pm to 6pm, I go to singing classes at the Sliabh Sneacht Centre, Drumfries. I am part of The Sliabh Sneacht Singers and my teacher is Bernie Doherty. Here are five reasons why I love singing class:

We get a lot of opportunities to record songs and visit a recording studio, which not many children or even adults get to experience.

Singing class is a lot of fun, although we do work very hard and learn lots of new things.

We get to sing solos of our choice at our Christmas and summer shows, and also learn harmonies etc. I like that our families get the chance to hear us sing at these shows.

I love singing, and The Music Box has really helped to build my confidence.

Going to class is really enjoyable because my teacher is very nice and helpful, and I also like spending time with the friends that I have made.

I would recommend these classes to anyone of any age who loves to sing. It is such an enjoyable pastime.

Shannon Harkin

We’ve been recording like mad – and we now have 3 CD’s!

Ok, we’re done with the studio for a while!!  It was tough going,  but it is rewarding and important work and it was a great great opportunity for so many local singers aged 4-14 to experience the process – from learning new original songs, adding harmony, recording in and out of the studio, meeting sound engineers and producers and seeing the finished product in the form of shiny cd’s!!  We have a whopping THREE cd’s now!

cropped-boogiebugsjpeg1.jpgThe first is my own wee early yrs CD, it sold out a couple of yrs back and I only got around to a second printing of it now.  15 songs, 11 written by yours truly, all for our littlest musical kiddos from babies on up. It costs €10.

future gen cdNext up is our FUTURE GENERATION CD, recorded earlier this year by about 70 children county wide, it not only contains the Future Generation song I wrote with Brighdin Carr, it was also features our wonderful BALLAD OF 1916, as recorded by our Wee Glee Singers in 2016 for the centenary of the Easter Rising. It’s €5.

christmas cd coverLastly, our brand new Christmas EP,  (available by mid November ’18) featuring 40 children from all over Inishowen.  It’s a collection of 4 songs, 3 original Christmas songs I wrote for our children’s singing groups, and a favourite Christmas song, Silent Night (recorded by our Music Box Seniors, with a special arrangement by me 😉 ). This one is €8.

We hope that somewhere among these 3 cd’s, you’ll find songs your family will love, and go back to year after year.  Thanks as always to our wonderful Music Box Families and everyone that has helped us along the way xx

If you’re out of our immediate area, we can arrange to post, and payment by paypal is available through


Seattle Guitars Instruments Tower Electric GuitarsWhoa, it’s a busy term!  Here’s a round up of our beginner and advanced classes, show news and some help for post primary children preparing for practical exams! There’s so much happening in all the classes and everyone is thriving – finding their feet, learning new skills and taking on a big show production this Christmas!

Our beginners are flying – learning at a huge rate, and my only request is PLEASE find some time for practice to keep the momentum going!  I always tell them, if you only have 10 minutes, it will definitely help, so use whatever time you can, don’t worry about waiting for that perfect day when you have a full hour to dedicate to practice.  Every 10 minutes spent with the guitar in your hands is really worthwhile!

Our more advanced groups are tackling some difficult concepts and skills, and we are also working with our post primary students in preparation for practical music exams in school.  We are helping to choose songs that they can learn and play to a polished standard, adding difficulty and detail to impress examiners, and setting aside time in class when we can ensure they are prepared and happy with their pieces!

Of course we’re changing our show format this year, switching to one large production featuring all classes (apart from beginners), and taking away some of the comforts of previous shows, like song sheets!  Our students will learn to play off sheet and already they are trusting that they can pull it off and are really giving it a great shot!  In addition, we’re still furthering their skills and hopefully continuing to ensure they are guaranteed one hour a week where they are happy, confident, accepted and welcomed!   We really are good to each other and I hope the children know how important that is to me.  I’m proud of them for it.

If you’re interested in playing guitar, or returning to guitar after a break, we can try to accommodate your level.  Beginners can only join till the end of October, but children with previous playing experience can join at any time.  Classes take place in Buncrana & Drumfries. Guitar academyposter2018-page-001


Music club for Secondary School Children

Music Box Seniors is a brand new group just for secondary school singers to grow musically, and perform songs at a pace and in an environment that suits their age – and it’s open to anyone regardless of their previous experience in music or singing! musicboxsnrsposter2018-page-001It’s a class I’ve been asked by our older students to create, so that they have continuing opportunities in music as they get older.  Music is a vital component of young lives, so it’s important have a creative outlet, to continue to build and retain confidence and to nurture performing and singing, as well as playing music, dancing etc.  Our singing groups often have the opportunity to record and these projects will also include the seniors! It truly offers a chance for participants to take all the skills they’ve learned so far in life, and put it all together, and of course music is so therapeutic and beneficial for mental well-being and resilience. 

Although based on a singing group model, students can add any instruments they play, movement & dance, or try writing and arranging.   They’ll also be helping with show production. This group will be made up of students who are now in secondary school, who are graduating from one of our younger singing groups, or who wish to join as new students.  It will be affordable for all students.

It will be largely lead by the students in partnership with me & assisting tutors. Students will have their own specific lesson plans, targets and challenges to create and learn music that suits their age.  

Class will meet on Wednesdays 5-6pm in The Exchange, Buncrana, separately from the younger singers, and students will work on their own projects, while supporting and mentoring the younger singers in occasional projects.  

There is a wide scope of possibilities but it’s all there for the taking and I hope they grab as much opportunity as they can and bring their ideas to our groups too – I’d love to hear them! I really think this class will be a great step into musical independence for our older performers and an opportunity to show their own musical style and passion. I can’t wait to see what they do next!!

The first meeting of Music Box Seniors will be Wed Sept 5th in The Exchange, to work together group plans and get the music started! Guitar classes for beginners and returning students continue at the usual times. Book your place via Facebook at The Music Box, or call Bernie at 086 3068655

Exciting new classes and plans for September!

Autumn is definitely in the air – it’s a great time of year – it always feels like a new beginning – even more than January 1st for me!  It’s a great time to plan for the school year ahead, and I am LOVING this years plans for The Music Box.  They include exciting upgrades and additions to classes, new teachers assisting throughout the year to make sure we’re all growing as singers, performers, musicians, writers, recording artists and music lovers in general, optional masterclasses in Songwriting and our comfy hoodies available in every imaginable colour to suit your own style!  Our singers will be recording again very soon too, and we’re planning a big Christmas Show featuring all our classes performing together instead of our usual individual class shows!

Many classes are booking already so please feel free to grab your place now.  You can book by pm on The Music Box facebook page, by email at, by phone at 086 3068655, or at our registration evening where I can answer any questions you might have on Friday August 10th from 4-7pm in The Exchange Inishowen, Castle Avenue, Buncrana.  You can sign up for classes taking place in The Exchange or the Sliabh Sneacht Centre.  Click on the pics below for information on individual classes. (if you are already part of a class a wee message to confirm your return will do just fine! x)



“Music Box Seniors” – a new class for over 12’s coming in Sept 2018!!

A special group just for our secondary school singers to grow and perform songs at a pace that suits their age!musicForever3

**Combining Singing, instruments (optional), writing and arranging, this group will be made up of students who are now in secondary school, who are graduating from our younger singing groups, or wishing to join as new students.
**It will be lead by the students in partnership with me, and they will have their own specific lesson plans, targets and challenges to create and learn music that suits their age, add their own style to it and work in collaboration with each other – supporting group and solo projects with music, harmonies, ideas etc.

Class will still meet on Wednesdays 5-6pm in The Exchange, Buncrana (as their old singing class always has), but they will have a separate room to work on their own projects, while supporting and mentoring the younger singers in occasional group songs.  They’ll have the chance to learn to use our voice and video recording equipment and run their own Music Box Seniors online music channel if they wish.

They will also help to organise our shows, assisting with stage set up, sound, and arranging their own performance pieces and helping to arrange the younger singers work too!  It’s a wide scope of possibilities but it’s all there for the taking and I hope they grab as much opportunity as they can and bring their ideas to our groups too – I’d love to hear them!

**This class is not a replacement for Guitar Academy, as no instrument instruction will be given, but students are welcome to bring any instruments along if it adds to their work.  Guitar Academy students will continue to attend those classes at their usual time.**

I really think this class will be a great step into musical independence for our older performers and an opportunity to show their own musical style and passion. I can’t wait to see what they do next!!

2018 – a year full of performance, recording, setting goals and more great great music!

Happy New Year Everyone!

golden-new-year-music-tAs 2018 rolls around, here’s a quick round up of upcoming plans, as we continue to push our classes and give our Music Box kids the best opportunities possible to learn and grow as musicians, singers and performers.

Just this past month, we received Funding that will benefit all our students.  We now have access to high quality voice recorders, and a camera that will allow us to record our work and improve our performance throughout the year.  It’s a great opportunity for us to improve our confidence levels, work on individual performance and see where we can improve, as well as record our group and solo work to share with everyone.  Our older students will also share in the organising of this and hopefully learn how to use the equipment.  I’ll be sending home sheets/asking you to pop in to sign a sheet before we begin – outlining permissions (recording/broadcasting of performances etc).

Guitarists (especially older classes) will have continued/expanded access to additional teachers, to further work like power & barre chords, theory, scales and chord variations, and we’ll really be drilling those scales etc to create more independent & creative musicians. Our beginners are a smart crew and they are moving fast so far so they will be well ready for a show in summer 2018.

Singers will work on more lots of great lively songs, but we’ll also work on more harmony, our posture, performances, singing exercises etc and continue to up our game and become more professional!  I’m hoping to be able to line up a special performance for each of our singing groups this year in addition to our regular summer shows, and of course the recording plans above will be a big part of their year too!

Boogie Bugs have grown so much, and I’m excited about the prospect of sharing more of what they learn through music, and their amazing input into the songs we sing together with our new recording equipment.  You’ll be surprised what they know, how they take part and hopefully once we get over the excitement/shyness of a camera being sometimes present, we’ll be able to share some great things with you! We also continue to add new instruments and props, which also travel with us to area preschools.

As we approach Summer, classes will continue as always till the end of June, with the help of some great additional teachers – many we’ve worked with before. I hope to work until the end of May myself, by which time all shows and plans will be in place.  I’m looking forward to our new baby co-operating timewise so I can at least attend the summer shows 🙂 :-).  With some of our Wee Glee original members graduating to Secondary School, it’s an important one for me, as they move on to their next big choirs and our hard working younger singers take the lead into a new year.

Of course we’ll still have our Music Box Summer School, with lots of music making and songwriting opportunities with myself and visiting tutors.  This summer school books out ever year and is a very unique opportunity for children to take part in meaningful and creative work at such young ages. We learn so much working together and those skills and the confidence to use them stay with us for life! I continue to learn also, taking part in songwriting workshops myself to see what new ideas I can bring to the children to simplify the process and make it accessible to everyone. I also hope to challenge many of our capable musicians to pick up a different instrument that week and try out something new.  I’ll have a selection on hand!!

Thanks so much for sticking with The Music Box, we’re getting better all the time, learning from each other, taking cues for our future from the children and what they need and want to learn and hopefully they are enjoying the work too! See you in the new year, it’s going to be a special one!!! ❤

Snow is falling all around me……..

WHOA!!!!! What a fast few months!!!  We’ve been working hard, doing really well with our paperless plan, which is working really well – though we’ll always have paper copies for shows.  It’s that time again – to announce the Christmas show schedule for our classes performing Christmas classics as well as new and original songs this year again.  Here’s the details – give me a shout if anything is unclear! ❤christmas-music_01_94139c1


Sliabh Sneacht Guitar Academy – regular class at 4pm (bring a snack, you’ll be in for a couple of hours – your show is not till 6.30pm)

Sliabh Sneacht Singers – regular class at 5pm, combined show for singers AND guitarists at 6.30pm sharp (guitarists 6.30-7pm, singers @ 7pm).  We hope this show timetable will work for parents of children who attend singing AND guitar, so they don’t have shows at different intervals.


THURSDAY 21st December (Exchange)

Thursday 5pm Guitar Academy class – Final class @ 5pm, show at – 6.30pm

FRIDAY 22nd December (Exchange)

Wednesday 5pm Guitar Class  – students In at 6pm on 22nd for guitar tuning, show at 6.30pm. For some students there will be two shows on Friday evening. .  Both shows (guitar and wee glee) will start on time – guitar show will take about  half an hour and then there will be tea/coffee/biccies while we get set for the Wee Glee Show.  It will be a lovely festive evening so we look forward to showing you our work this term.

FRIDAY 22nd December  (Exchange)

Wee Glee Singers – In at 7.15, show at 7.30pm. For some students there will be two shows on Friday evening.  Both shows (guitar and wee glee) will start on time – guitar show will take about  half an hour and then there will be tea/coffee/biccies while we get set for the Wee Glee Show.  Apologies for the long evening, the children have worked so hard so it will be lovely for them to show you all they’ve learned. Thanks, Bernie


Oh hello there, have we met??

musiFor anyone that might not be familiar with what happens at The Music Box, here’s a wee intro to our classes and what we’re all about!  With new classes registering now for September in Buncrana & Drumfries, it’s a great time to bring music into your child’s life!  

The Music Box is a social enterprise that offers affordable music classes and pairs it with community projects throughout the year! Each of our classes are described below, and we have music for babies up to great great grandparents! We also have camps in singing, guitar & ukulele as well as seasonal workshops throughout the year for children, but we fit in lots of music for grown up s as well! Here’s all the info on our performance based children’s classes x
Wee Glee Singers/Sliabh Sneacht Singers.mic1
These groups are amazing – affordable and lively, they are performance based singing groups that perform at their own Christmas and Summer shows, as well as smaller appearances at charity and community events throughout the year. We focus on technique, confidence and collaboration, and respect and appreciation for performance of all levels. We have loads of solos, harmonies and everyone shares a great experience – learning so much while having a great time, and building life long memories and friends! As with all our groups, we endeavour to keep costs low, so there are no big surprises along the way – just the cost of classes and the option to buy our t-shirt/hoodie. WEE GLEE meets in The Exchange in Buncrana on Wednesdays 5-6pm, and SLIABH SNEACHT SINGERS meet in Drumfries on Tuesdays 5-6pm
Guitar Academy, beginners
We try to accommodate beginners every year, and this year beginners will meet in The Exchange in Buncrana on Thursdays at 4pm. guitarsWe try hard to learn a few basic chords in the first couple of months so that by Halloween we’re starting to put a few tunes together to keep the kids interested instead of just looking at chord sheets! Again, we are focused on the music and performance – but in a group class, we are always good to each other and supportive, fostering the confidence to play in front of each other, and eventually our families and friends.
Guitar Academy, Improvers
Whether you’re returning after the Summer break, or have lapsed in your playing for a while, we have groups at various levels of playing so we can find the right fit for you and you’ll be very welcomed back to guitar playing!! Get in touch to discuss where your child’s playing level lies and we’ll get to work! VARIOUS TIMES, PM FOR DETAILS
Boogie Bugs 3-6yrs cropped-boogiebugsjpeg1.jpg
This is where it all begins! Our youngest drop off class that is full of life, sound, colour and movement! We do it all in this group, and lay the foundations for a life long love of music, singing, playing, songwriting and performing. We explore the sounds of many instruments and enjoy all kinds of songs and dances, as well as the opportunity to take to the stage in a non pressured way to protect those tiny musicians of the future from stage fright 🙂 This class meets on Wednesdays 4-5pm in Buncrana.