Guitar goals – February is a BIG month for us!

guitarsIf you are in any of our guitar classes – you’ll know that for the month of Feb we are focused on our technical proficiency!  Sounds like fun doesn’t it……probably not and to be honest it’s hard work too lol!  But it’s sooooooo worth it!  Every now and then we put down the song sheets and focus on the chords/tabs/scales/bars etc we’ve been working on to make sure that we don’t just ‘kind of’ know these things but rather we know them inside and out, backwards and forwards and that we are growing into players that can pick up a guitar and play somewhere outside of class, start a band, play for family, school events, community events and of course – exams at school!

Many of our older players are already dabbling in these areas, so depending on the level of your class, we’re perfecting some or all of the following areas

  • chords
  • tabs
  • scales
  • bar chords
  • notes on the fret board
  • capo key changes

This is all so necessary especially in group classes to make sure that no one is falling through the cracks or falling behind in any area.  I always encourage the kids to come tell me if something doesn’t make sense, but these weeks are crucial to get us all up to speed.  As always attendance is so important.  With full attendance we can move quickly and avoid repeating lessons, so weather permitting – we’ll all be much better players in March than we were in January!

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Boogie Bugs & The Many Benefits of Early Years Music.

Families in our area have long realised the benefits to their children of regular organised music sessions – Boogie Bugs early years music has been part of the weekly scheduled activities in the lives of countless families all over Donegal & Derry through public classes, classes in preschools and community projects. cropped-boogiebugsjpeg1.jpg

In a study conducted by Bright Horizons, elementary school teachers shared their views on what they believe to be the most important school readiness factors for any child to succeed in a public or private school setting:

  • Basic understanding of language and math concepts
  • Social readiness
  • Emotional preparedness

Teachers were unified in their feeling that children should enter their first years of school with an ability to comprehend broader language and math concepts, as well as to be prepared for the social and emotional demands of school.

This is not lost on early years music facilitators, in fact a local Primary school principal informed me that they can readily notice accelerated literacy, social skills and learning ability in children who have regular music in their lives either at home or in their preschool setting.  They are ‘school ready’ in a broader range of areas than their counterparts who have not had a regular musical experience at the same age. Children love modern music too, and it certainly has an important place in their lives but in terms of social & educational benefits – simple, easily learned, carefully planned music and music exercises makes real and lasting impact on the progress of children in their early years journey.

At Boogie Bugs music, we regularly see improvement in so many areas including the ability to share, to wait, to take turns, to collaborate and work together.  To learn spatial awareness, motor skills, to learn social skills like greeting (hello/goodbye), to look out for each other, to practice making and keeping a beat, to use a variety of instruments, to enjoy sensory activities – all these are easily accessible in the form of early years music sessions and of course there is the sheer enjoyment that children get from music and dance.  Our sessions are often the children’s first and only experience of live music. They have access throughout the year to hear or try a range of instruments including guitar, ukulele, fiddle, whistle, and a wide range of children’s percussion and instruments gathered from around the world.

boogiebugsposter2018-page-001I write music for children too, so I’ve been able to add songs over the years that I felt might support their learning, whether it’s colours or numbers or animals or gaining the confidence to speak out during a song or activity.  For example, I noticed in many settings that younger children might struggle with the confidence to suggest an animal themselves when we sing ‘Old McDonald’, so I created a different song ‘Walking ‘round the Farm’ – where I make the animal noise and the children answer which animal made the noise.  The difference seems small, but it really works in the group – answering a clear question, rather than making an unprompted suggestion.

There is a loose structure to the sessions I run both in our public class, and in Preschools, but using a variety of instruments, seasonal and repeated songs and sensory tools, the structure is not readily perceptible to the children.  We start out singing a familiar Hello Song, and often move to a song that will require us to take part in some way. This exercise strengthens the children’s bond with the music and the session, as well as building trust each other and myself.  One such song is our ‘Hands Up’ song, which goes through healthy and unhealthy food choices in a fun way. ‘Hands up if you like bananas………etc’ and ‘Hands up if you like chocolate, hands up if you like ice cream, hands up if you like sweeties, but are they good for you?’ By taking an active role in the song – they have ownership of it, and the information in contains.

We have great action songs to keep everybody moving. They contain instructions that must be followed and that are easy to achieve, and fun to dance to.  Then we move on to activities such as instruments or rainbow ribbons or parachute games and some bubbles. Because of space and facilities, our public class also includes stage and microphone time and more physical games like using hula hoops to encourage movement further. We don’t push too hard for public performances at this age though – there’s plenty of time for that. At this stage the social benefits and growing confident in their own space and abilities is a much more important goal.  

Our public class for Boogie Bugs is in Buncrana on Wednesday evenings 4-5pm and musiplaces must be booked.  There’s so much to learn and see and in our music class, and because Boogie Bugs is part of The Music Box school, many of our wee Boogie Bugs graduate to our singing groups or guitar classes.  We have former Boogie Bugs that are now teenagers and still coming to our Senior singing class and our guitar group too!  

Bernie Doherty

Boogie Bugs Music Facilitator

Facebook: Boogie Bugs Music OR The Music Box

Email: boogiebugs@gmail.com

 

Music. By Amy Doherty

Our students like to write about Music as well as play and sing.  Here’s a wee piece by Amy Doherty!

Music. By Amy Doherty.

Music is really fun to do.  Some instruments are easy to learn and some are hard.  My sister and I play guitar. Guitar is really fun and easy to do.  My guitar teacher is really nice to us. There’s 13 people at my guitar class.  There are 3 boys and 10 girls. My guitar teacher is called Bernie. I also go to singing and she is my singing teacher too.  We do a lot of shows with her and recording. We do Summer shows and Christmas shows. I love singing and guitar. I go to singing and guitar on a Tuesday at the Sliabh Sneacht Centre.  Singing lasts an hour and guitar lasts an hour. On Thursday we are having a show in the Plaza. My sister and I both have a solo. Mine is Jingle Bells, and my sisters is Jingle Bell Rock.  My sister is doing hers with Cloadagh and Kiera. I am doing mine with Makensie. There are a lot of people doing solos. I am really nervous about it because I have to sing by myself. There are going to be a lot of people at the show.  I practice music all week long. My singing starts at 5 and ends at 6, and guitar starts at 6 and ends at 7.

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 boogiebugs@gmail.com.

GUITAR ACADEMY NEWSLETTER…

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 themusicboxireland@gmail.com, 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!!