A tiny review of a very music filled year and plans ahead….

Another year done and what a year we’ve had!  So much growth & progress from all the classes, great confidence, better skills and lots of laughs along the way!

musiSHOWS: We had shows EVERYWHERE!  From ages 3 and up – Boogie Bugs, Wee Glee Singers, Guitar Academy classes & Sliabh Sneacht Singers had brilliant shows, as did many of our preschool groups….

CLASSES:  We added some new classes through the wonderful Sliabh Sneacht Centre – a guitar academy class and a new singing group and both are doing so so well!

RECORDING:  In the Spring, I was able to get funding from the Donegal County Council to record the Wee Glee Singers singing ‘The Ballad of 1916’.  I am really planning to make recording a regular feature of our music school, but will take a little time to get that in place….

NEW TEACHERS:  We had guest teachers at our Summer camps and running some Summer groups.  They will be returning early in the new year to teach new skills to older guitar classes and singers.

‘THE BALLAD OF 1916’ – this wee song took a trip around the world and was performed by choirs in San Francisco, while the Wee Glee recording was played at a large event in New York to rename a street ‘Easter Rising Way’.  Their version was also added to the Department of Educations online resource site http://www.scoilnet.ie and got lots of radio play too!

BERNIE’S MUSIC: I played, sang and wrote lots and enjoyed running the second season of ‘Live & Original’, as well as singing at Earagail Arts Festival & Centenary events and on local radio.  I really hope to work towards a wee EP in 2017 and get back to more writing which definitely took a back seat in the last few months of 2016!

LIVE & ORIGINAL SESSIONS: Music for the grown ups!  2016 was my second year of running this event which started exclusively for original material but has grown into more of a music/poetry club welcoming all kinds of music and covers as well as originals.  We’re starting our year with a really special charity event in January, before settling into a regular routine of Live & Original every two months showcasing writing/performing from every possible genre of music as well as great writing from local and visiting poets.  These nights run on a BYOB basis and ask for a donation to The Exchange as admission.  We need nights like these, but we need your support to keep them going so come on out for a great night of entertainment & craic!

THE ANTI BULLYING ART EXHIBITION

Started as a three year project, it exceeded expectations this year with a massive amount of submissions.  Many of these will be exhibited in The Playhouse in the spring of 2017 as they celebrate their 25th year in operation.

The Year Ahead……

There are Government backed plans to cultivate and support creativity throughout the country and I will certainly be talking to our local representatives to make sure our area is represented well in this area.  Community and affordable music are central to the creativity of our future generations so we hope they take this opportunity to represent our youngest citizens.  I am happy to forward them our ideas and plans so they can be included in our county’s efforts.

Guitarists (especially older classes) will have more access to intricate work like power & barre chords, theory, scales and chord variations

Singers will work on more songs obviously, but we’ll also work on more harmony, our posture, performances, singing exercises etc and continue to up our game and become more professional!

Boogie Bugs have shown that they can put a really nice show together as they did with their mini Nativity and Christmas songs, we’ll build on that for summer as well as continue to foster confidence at the mic, fun and creativity in their music and a real sense of belonging in the musical world!

Classes running at The Exchange only will have a small increase in class fees this year.  From Jan 1st they will all increase by €1.  I did manage to remember to send home notes with most classes but I know there were two I missed.  It’s the first raise in 6 years but still sees us at the lower end of class prices in the area.  I do take care also not to heap additional costs on families throughout the year.

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!! ❤

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The Music Box….in a nutshell!

Here’s a quick introduction to us if you’ve ever wondered exactly what happens in this busy  wee group! The Music Box is a tiny Music School that operates as a social enterprise by offering affordable music & pairing it with community projects!

Our main areas of focus are:

  • Affordable & engaging music/guitar/singing/songwriting & performance for children from early yrs on in schools & community (www.facebook.com/themusicboxschool)
  • Inclusion of visual art & the well being of our children & community through art (www.facebook.com/antibullyingartexhibition)
  • Encouragement  for adults to write & opportunity for them to perform through our non profit events – Live & Original (www.facebook.com/liveandoriginalsessions)
  • Community & Voluntary work in the arts and other areas through The Exchange which we co-founded 4 years ago. (www.facebook.com/theexchangeinishowen)

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It all started with our early years music & movement class, Boogie Bugs – but as our kids grew – so did we!! Everything we do is very much inspired by classes in the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, and as the class list expanded to include singing groups and guitar lessons, school programmes & songwriting, the Old Town School continued to be an inspiration with their relaxed teaching methods, performance driven classes and opportunities for music, writing, creativity and performance at every age.

As a social enterprise, community work is a regular part of The Music Box, creating and supporting art based anti bullying projects locally and beyond, providing affordable music opportunities, running Live and Original Sessions as a support for original works by adults, and working with The Exchange Inishowen.

The schedule for Christmas performances….

 

SLIABH SNEACHT SINGERS

DEC 20th: 7pm The Sliabh Sneacht Singers Christmas Show. Regular 5pm class followed by a break (pls bring sandwich/snack) and show prep. Open to friends, family and the community, this will be our first major performance. Show will last about 1hr.🙂

WEE GLEE SINGERS:

December 18th 7.15pm – Gateway Singers Christmas, St. Mary’s Oratory.

December 23rd (Children in at 6pm, show at 7pm, The Exchange) – Wee Glee Christmas Show.

GUITAR ACADEMY:
Wednesday 6pm class Christmas Show: December 21st, Children in at 6pm for regular class, Christmas show at 6.15pm sharp.

Thursday 5pm class Christmas Show: December 16th, Children in at 6.30, show at 7.00pm sharp.

Thursday 6pm class Christmas Show: December 22nd, Children in for regular class at 6pm, show at 7pm sharp.

Beginners classes do NOT have Christmas show, they will have a Summer how though.

Christmas is so close and we have SO MUCH TO DO!!!!

Actually, that’s not really a misleading headline, for the boys and girls of The Music Box, it’s a very busy time, lots of small projects to do while preparing for big shows, community appearances and learning lots and lots of great Christmas songs….Here’s a quick breakdown of what is coming up – keep an eye out for your kids class! ❤

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Boogie Bugs kids will be learning lots of great Christmas songs & tunes and creating their own musically themed tree decoration ❤

Preschools will be learning new and classic Christmas songs and some will be doing our original Preschool Christmas Play – it’s short and simple and perfect for this young age group.  A traditional Nativity story, it’s called ‘Welcome, welcome Jesus’.

Beginner guitarists will be learning Christmas songs, but won’t have  show this Christmas, it’s a little too soon – but they’ll definitely be able to play a festive tune or two for you!  Not bad for having just picked guitars up in September!

SLIABH SNEACHT SINGERS – Here’s your Christmas schedule (in addition to regular classes).

NOV 12th: 1 – 2pm (Optional) Making musically themed tree decorations for The Music Box’s ‘song tree’ that will be displayed in St. Mary’s Oratory Buncrana as part of the Christmas Tree Trail

NOV 27th: 2.30 – 3.30pm.  You’ll be doing a short 20 minute set at the centre’s Christmas fair on November 27th (performance at 3pm).

DEC 2oth: 7pm The Sliabh Sneacht Singers Christmas Show.  Regular 5pm class followed by a break (pls bring sandwich/snack) and show prep.  Open to friends, family and the community, this will be our first major performance. Show will last about 1hr. 🙂

WEE GLEE SINGERS:

NOV 12th: 2.30pm – 3.30pm (Optional) Making musically themed tree decorations for The Music Box’s ‘song tree’ that will be displayed in St. Mary’s Oratory Buncrana as part of the Christmas Tree Trail

December 18th 7.30pm – Gateway Singers Christmas, St. Mary’s Oratory.  A huge highlight of our performing calendar, we’re delighted to be invited back again for a third year!  They have asked that our singers stay on for as much of the event as possible.  The disruption of our leaving, mostly at once and the empty front rows was quite noticeable.  This is a really important event for our singers, and one they learn so much from, by joining such a grown up and accomplished list of performers and singing for such a large crowd. It’s a great credit to them that they are asked back.  It may start a little earlier this year too.

December 23rd (Children in at 6pm, show at 7pm) – Wee Glee Christmas Show.  Our annual Christmas show, open to friends, family and the wider community.  We keep this close to Christmas to remind us it’s time to slow down and enjoy the season…….it’s a great signal that it’s finally here, and the children have been working hard on some new and beautiful seasonal songs ❤

GUITAR ACADEMY:

NOV 12th: 1-2pm in the Sliabh Sneacht Centre OR  2.30pm – 3.30pm in The Exchange (Optional) Making musically themed tree decorations for The Music Box’s ‘song tree’ that will be displayed in St. Mary’s Oratory Buncrana as part of the Christmas Tree Trail

Wednesday 6pm class Christmas Show: December 21st, Children in at 6pm for regular class, Christmas show at 7pm sharp.

Thursday 5pm class Christmas Show: December 16th, Children in at 6.30, show at 7.00pm sharp.

Thursday 6pm class Christmas Show: December 22nd, Children in for regular class at 6pm, show at 7pm sharp.

Anti Bullying Art Exhibition – many of the children will have work exhibited in this exhibition, dates are 18, 19, 20th Nov in The Exchange 11 – 7pm,  and 21 Nov – 1 Dec in the Playhouse, Derry.  Please do still submit art if you wish and please attend also.

Christmas Tree Trail – over 40 trees exhibited throughout the town of Buncrana and we’ve been asked to decorate ‘The Song Tree’!  Dates for assisting with making some decorations are listed above – attendance to decoration making is optional and free 🙂

“Songs of Ireland – A Celebration of our Best Loved Music”

“Songs of Ireland – A Celebration of our Best Loved Music”. As the 1916 centenary celebrations wind down, we celebrate the best in our rich musical history with performances from:
*Tom Byrne*Tracey McRory* *Neil Doherty*Bernie Doherty* *Eamonn Cutliffe*Amy Meehan* *Roisin Gallagher*Coreen Robinson* *The Treblemakers*
WHERE: The Exchange, Castle Avenue
WHEN: Oct 22, doors @ 8.30pm, music @9pm
Admission by donation ~ B.Y.O.B. Tea & Coffee supplied.

Be part of our 3rd Annual Anti Bullying Art Exhibition!

Our event will be held on both sides of the border again this year – with a short exhibition lasting 3 days in The Exchange in Buncrana (18, 19 & 20th Nov), followed by a longer stay from 21st Nov – 1st December in the beautiful Playhouse Theatre, Derry.  We hope you will help us reach artists far and wide & invite them to take part by sharing this article.

mosaic20pictureThere’s so much opportunity to change mindsets and behaviours like bullying, but this only happens if YOU get involved – take the topic to heart as something we can all improve, something we can all help with.  It touches so many parts of our lives – confidence, mental health, isolation, loneliness, starting over, reaching out, helping our friends, neighbours and community.  Showing our children and friends that there’s a different and better way to treat people, and that you can make a difference.

Many schools will take part but we also want families to get involved,  and we hope our adult/teen section will once again blow our doors off as it has in the past two years.  Most of what you see will be entirely new, but some art will be returning to the exhibit, as work that has touched us greatly and is well worth revisiting.

You can leave your art at The Exchange in Buncrana, or contact me directly to arrange collection.  We have written pieces, art on canvas, board, paper etc, sculpture and as many other media as we can accommodate.  Here’s the facebook page you can use to get in touch or check out ideas from previous exhibitions. http://www.facebook.com/antibullyingartexhibition

Classes at The Music Box…

Here are all the details for our classes.  Many are currently underway so get in touch if you’d like to join us!

Before long we’ll be planning for guest tutors throughout the year, shows and appearances so we’re already getting set for a hugely busy year!  Lots of great music to be learned, and in a group setting, there’s so much great support and friendship, camaraderie and craic ❤

THE EXCHANGE BUNCRANA CLASSES

Guitar Academy, beginners class – Thursdays 4 – 5pm, ages 7+

This class is for absolute beginners – if you’ve never held a guitar before we’ll go through all the information you need to know to get started. We’ll quickly move to learning some basic chords so you can play a tune or two by Christmas! This is a performance based class, focussing on the music, learning songs, chords, collaboration and progressing as a group! The songs we learn range from new to old depending on how much we’ve learned or what we need to work on. Classes are pay weekly, but full attendance is required to keep the group moving and learning!

The Wee Glee Singers – Wednesdays 5 – 6pm, ages 6+

What a ride this group has had! This performance based community singing group performs 3-6 times a year at ‘Family & Friends’ concerts, community and seasonal events. We learn lots of songs, work on singing techniques, breathing & performance skills. The Wee Glee singers have been fortunate enough to record, be included in the Dept. of Education 1916 programme, and perform dozens of times in the past few years, so the sky is the limit for a room full of children who love to sing, enjoy the fun of a group class, and support each other all the way! Dedication, hard work and fun – a great combination!

Boogie Bugs Early Years Music & Movement – Wednesdays 4-5pm, ages 3-6yrs

This is one busy hour, and this class always books fully so do get in touch if you’d like your child to join us for a great musical start in life! This is a drop off class where we cover every angle of music! We sing, learn songs about everything from syllables and beats to fruit and vegatables! We learn many originals songs written just for our students and dance to our very own actions songs. We have dozens and dozens of percussion instruments, parachutes, bubbles, scarves, rainbow ribbons – but behind every single activity is a plan – to teach a particular theme or topic, to work together, to improve co-ordination and rhythm, to share and play, to create a love of music that will stay with them forever! We also run holiday/seasonal workshops where we create interesting age appropriate crafts and musical instruments as well as all the musical activities we love!

Guitar Academy – Improvers classes, various times, ages 7+

These are our returning students, hard working and ready to improve! We can also accommodate a small number of new students who may be returning to guitar after a break or have some previous playing experience, so get in touch if your child would like to play in one of our groups! This year we have a plan in place to keep you focussed! Bringing in the skills of local guitarist Rickey Fullerton for a few visits each term, he will work on specific skills and projects with us and set us goals for his return visits. In addition to his visits, we will continue to expand our chord base, but also work on scales, melodies, notes, tabs and much more throughout the year! We will continue to be a performance based group of course and will still perform at Christmas and Summer, but with these added elements we’re going to have a busy but productive year!

THE SLIABH SNEACHT CENTRE CLASSES, DRUMFRIES.

Guitar Academy, beginners class – Tuesdays 4 – 5pm, ages 7+

This class is for absolute beginners – if you’ve never held a guitar before we’ll go through all the information you need to know to get started. We’ll quickly move to learning some basic chords so you can play a tune or two by Christmas! This is a performance based class, focussing on the music, learning songs, chords, collaboration and progressing as a group! The songs we learn range from new to old depending on how much we’ve learned or what we need to work on. Classes are pay weekly, but full attendance is required to keep the group moving and learning!

The Sliabh Sneacht Singers – Tuesdays 5 – 6pm, ages 6+

A brand new singing group welcoming children from all the surrounding areas! Based on the model of the wonderful Wee Glee Singers based in Buncrana, this performance based community singing group will perform 3-6 times a year at ‘Family & Friends’ concerts, community and seasonal events. We learn lots of songs, work on singing techniques, breathing & performance skills. As we progress we’ll add solo work & harmonies. The Wee Glee singers have been fortunate enough to record and perform dozens of times in the past few years, so the sky is the limit for a room full of children who love to sing, enjoy the fun of a group class, and support each other all the way!

EARLY YEARS MUSIC & MOVEMENT 0-3YRS (PARENT & BABY/TODDLER CLASSES)

Encore Performing arts Letterkenny, Thursdays 10.30 – 11.15 & Spraoi Agus Sport Carndonagh, Mondays 11am (part of a parent & toddler group that runs from 10 – 12), & Cockhill Community Preschool Buncrana, Wednesdays 12.30 – 1pm (part of a parent & toddler group that runs from 12.30 – 1.45)

We sing, learn songs about everything from numbers and colours to fruit and vegetables! We learn many originals songs written just for our students and dance to our very own actions songs. We have dozens and dozens of percussion instruments, parachutes, bubbles, scarves, rainbow ribbons – but behind every single activity is a plan – to teach a particular theme or topic, to work together, to improve co-ordination and rhythm, to share and play, to create a love of music that will stay with them forever and beautiful memories between you and your wee one!!

SCHOOLS PROGRAMMES

We work with schools at every stage from preschool, right through primary school classes and can tailor a programme depening on the ages of your students. Our younger students focus on music & movement on a weekly, seasonal or monthly basis, while older students can undertake a programme that includes songwriting as well as learning songs & harmonies. We have limited times slots for new preschools/schools/seasonal or 6 week primary school programmes so get in touch if you’d like more information!

Call out for art for Anti Bullying Art Exhibition.

I’m delighted to announce the dates of the 3rd annual Anti Bullying Art Exhibition in Donegal & Derry! The Buncrana exhibition will take place on November 18, 19 & 20th November in The Exchange Inishowen.  All the work will then move to The Playhouse Theatre Derry where it will be on view in the Gallery from November 21 to December 1st.
This year we’re adopting the hashtag #NoMoreBystanders to try to get the message across that you can help victims of bullying without putting yourself in danger.
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HOW IT ALL STARTED..
In 2013 I ran some free anti bullying workshops.  As part of these events, the children attending created anti bullying posters.   Often children might give the answer they think we want to hear when we’re talking to them, but in art, they are more honest, and taking the time to create the art makes the understanding more real.
No two pieces of art were alike and each one was so beautiful, that the idea for an exhibition devoted to the topic took hold. It was eventually brought to life in our first two day exhibition, which took place in November 2014 in Buncrana, Co. Donegal, Ireland.
It was a brilliant success! We had 249 pieces of art submitted.  Every one was displayed, and more than 400 people visited the exhibition over its short run.
Many of our visitors shared stories of their own experiences, or those of close friends and family.  Some of the stories were close to 50 years old, but those old feelings of hurt still remained.
We knew we’d done something important, and vowed to do it every year! Last year we expanded and went cross border!  We exhibited in The Exchange in Buncrana, and in The Playhouse Theatre in Derry and our exhibition attracted the work of professional artists as well as amateur artists & teens – and of course, the heart of our exhibition – the children’s art!
YOUR INVITATION!
We now invite you, your school, your club, or any child or adult who is interested to submit art for our 3rd Anti Bullying Art Exhibition which is scheduled to take place in mid November.  Art can be on canvas, art paper or regular paper and you can also submit a poem or short written piece or sculpture if you prefer.
This Exhibition is as much about equality, awareness & healing as it is about bullying, and the work last year ranged from poems, to anti bullying posters, to sculpture & art that depicted the feelings created in the victims, as well as those of the bully, and those that have survived, thrived and have positive messages to share.
ABOUT THE ORGANISER:
This project is organised, by Bernie Doherty of The Music Box – a tiny music school and a social enterprise that keeps a few community projects on the go!  Without the help of family and amazing volunteers it would not happen, so if you are in our area, & would like to help out – let us know – volunteering for this project is very rewarding and your ideas are welcomed!
We look forward to seeing all the art and presenting your work with care and gratitude.
You can drop art to The Exchange if you’re local (or I can collect), or mail it to The Exchange, Castle Avenue, Buncrana, Co. Donegal, Ireland. Check out the last two years exhibitions at www.facebook.com/antibullyingartexhibition
Bernie’s contact details: Phone: 086 3068655, email: themusicboxireland@gmail.com
Sincerely, Bernie Doherty, The Music Box & The Exchange Inishowen

 

 

A FEW QUICK TIPS FOR LEARNING GUITAR <3

  1. Be prepared that your fingers will hurt – it will pass!
  2.  Practice, but seriously – not too much 🙂  Short practices donguitarse every day are easier that long practices once or twice a week
  3.  It will take time to be fantastic – but we will get there!
  4.  Once you know a couple of chords, find a simple song and practice strumming.
  5.  It doesn’t matter what the song is – even if it’s a kids song it will keep you practicing and learning to handle your guitar and strum better and better.
  6.  Keep trying to get your chords clear – take your time and put your fingers in the correct place every time – it’s really hard to fix poor chord placement down the line.
  7.  Set a goal – stick with your simple songs for practice but keep a song in mind that you are aiming to play so you have something to work for.
  8.  Don’t think everyone is getting it except you – everyone is working at a different pace and if you stick with it – you will get there in your own time.
  9.  Have fun and don’t worry.
  10. Don’t give up – no one ever regretted learning to play a few tunes but everyone that gave up trying was really sorry they did!

 

HERE’S A TWO CHORD SONG TO STRUM ALONG TO 🙂 G&D CHORDS ONLY! (It’s an oldie but your parents or grandparents will like it!)

Jambalaya
written and recorded by Hank Williams
 
G                             D
Goodbye Joe me gotta go me oh my oh
                                     G
Me gotta go pole the pirogue down the bayou
                                D
My Yvonne the sweetest one me oh my oh
                                      G
Son of a gun we’ll have big fun on the bayou
 
                                      D
Jambalaya and a crawfish pie and filet gumbo
                                      G
Cause tonight I’m gonna see my ma cher amio
                                 D
Pick guitar fill fruit jar and be gay-o
                                      G
Son of a gun we’ll have big fun on the bayou

Boogie Bugs 0-3yrs – our littlest musical heroes!

Early years music & movement is so much fun – it is possible to arrive feeling sluggish, maybe not quite ‘in the mood’ for nursery rhymes – but it is IMPOSSIBLE to feel that way by the end of class!

All the madness and fun started some years back – with the notion that we definitely needed a music & movement class for babes and parents in our area.  So much grew from that tiny seed, just as our first ever Boogie Bugs grew, and many of them are now part of our singing groups and guitar academy classes!

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Did you know the Boogie Bugs logo was hand drawn by me!! #NotAnArtist!!

Here’s a quick breakdown of what happens in class, but also (importantly) why we do what we do!  We include songs (many written by me) sitting on your knee, up on our feet, dancing with & without you (depending on age) and a cuddle song or two (depending on mood of little one!) for co-ordination, sometimes closeness, sometimes independence, rhythm & the educational benefits of repetition and nursery rhymes.  We introduce instruments for sensory exploration, participation, rhythm, motor skills, social skills and general noise, craic & mayhem.

The subject matter of the songs always uses simple, clear language and is age appropriate, but reinforces learning about all those important early years topics – numbers, letters, colours, sounds, animals, animal sounds, food, good eating – all the hot button issues!!

Sensory play is an important part of early years work, so it continues with our beautiful bubbles, our parachute and scarves (depending on setting).

With all this inadvertent learning happening, it’s important to remember how much fun we’re having, how great it is to see all the smiles, all those tiny hands joining in on action songs from such a young age.

Any early years teacher in preschool & primary school settings will tell you that nursery rhymes and the repetition of songs and stories are the building blocks to early education – reading and writing.  We are playing, but we are playing our way into a great start in life – it’s a win win for us all!

We have a two special end of summer classes on  Wednesday August 23rd & 30th in The Exchange Buncrana at 12 o’clock for ages 0-3.  Class lasts about 45 minutes & is €5 per child (€8 for 2 from the same family, &  €10 for 3 siblings.  Children older than 3 that are coming along to help mammy or daddy go free!    We hope to organise regular music for our littlest babes from September!