Songwriting for children, part of The Music Box Summer Camps.

songwriting-from-idea-to-finished-songBoth our Singing and our Guitar Summer Camps incorporate Songwriting, and it’s not just the idea of it, we will write a real song together during the camp – collaborating, sharing ideas, learning about song structure, different types of song, trying out ideas, learning if those ideas work and changing them if they don’t.   We will share this collaborated work, but also write individually and these exercises do not have to be shared with the group so the children can feel free to write what they want.

We’re learning a few songs during camp that are pop songs, modern songs but still a form of ‘protest’ song – a kind of social commentary that has always been popular in music, but of course most popular in the 60’s.  So we’ll look at what we might want to write about if we were to try out this style and write a few lines of our own protest songs.

We will look at the idea of ‘storytelling’ through song and try a few lines of that style also, and we will also look at pop that is just for fun, with lyrics that rhyme and flow but maybe don’t say much of anything at all!!!!

Ultimately in a group setting it’s about working together, respecting ideas and being brave enough to suggest edits or something that might work better, and accepting the ideas of others for the benefit of the project.  It’s fun, challenging and interesting and in the past we have created some great music – though we never know what will happen when the pens come out!

With lots of guest tutors coming in this year, we’ll have perspective from various performers and all of that will make us stronger singers, players, performers and now also – songwriters!

Guitar camp is full with a waiting list (pls pm if you want to be added to the cancellation list), and Singing camp is almost full so book quickly for that one!

Camp runs from 10 – 13 July (4 days) in The Exchange in Buncrana.  Singers are in 10 – 1, Guitarists are in from 1.30 – 4.30.  The fee is €45, and there is discount for families or children attending both. Pls bring lunch.

Contact on FB or text 0863068655.

June is here and we are ready for Summer shows!!

18740703_10154847701728732_7813700202036900409_nAnd so Summer rolls around again, and as usual it has sneaked up on us too quickly – so here’s a quick run down of the next few weeks! Our Summer Raffle for friends and family is HUGE this year, with lots to win including wonderful prizes donated by Gerard O’Kane Photography and the lovely new Gifted (gift shop). Music camps, open to non members as well as members are almost full, so get in quick if you haven’t booked yet! Summer Show dates for each class are listed below, as well as details of our singers appearance at Feel Good Fortnight.


We have two music camps open to members as well as non members. Singing/Songwriting camp with 3 tutors giving the boys and girls loads of tips and techniques for singing and performance, as well as an insight into songwriting and help in collaborating on a song during summer camp!  Our other camp is Guitar/Songwriting and in addition to the songwriting module, Rickey Fullerton will join us again to push our skills further and hone the chords and guitar moves we’re already working on.  Camp runs from July 10 – 13.

RAFFLE PRIZES!!  We’ve got some great prizes up for grabs this year, sheets are going home with kids next week  – no pressure to fill them, just buy a few lines if you’d like!

**FIRST PRIZE**Family photo shoot worth €200!!! Included is a location shoot and memory pen of fully edited images, very kindly donated by Gerard O’Kane Photography

**SECOND PRIZE** 2 frames kindly donated by Gifted

**THIRD PRIZE** Ukulele

**FOURTH PRIZE** Free Place at Summer Music Camp

**FIFTH PRIZE** Bottle of Red & Bottle of White Wine

**SIXTH PRIZE** 2 hand crocheted children’s hats

SUMMER SHOWS (Sliabh Sneacht Centre and Exchange)

Wee Glee & Sliabh Sneacht Singers, 2pm, 24th June @ market square Buncrana. 20 min set for feel good fortnight


Sliabh Sneacht Guitar Academy – regular class at 4pm, show at 4.45pm

Sliabh Sneacht Singers – regular class at 5pm, show at 6.30pm

THURSDAY 29th June (Exchange)

Thursday Beginners guitar class 4pm: will be in for their regular class at 4pm with a short show at 4.45pm (last 15 mins of class).

Thursday 5 & 6pm guitar classes will do a combined show this year on Thursday 29th June- Final class for both groups @ 5pm, show at – 6.30pm

FRIDAY 30th June (Exchange)

Wednesday 5pm Guitar Class  – students In at 6.30pm on 30th, show at 7pm.                 For some students there will be two shows on Friday evening.  This is unavoidable with bookings in the hall/feel good fortnight etc.  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.  Aplogies 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

FRIDAY 30th June  (Exchange)

 Wee Glee Singers – In at 7.45, show at 8pmFor some students there will be two shows on Friday evening.  This is unavoidable with bookings in the hall/feel good fortnight etc.  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.  Aplogies 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

The Music keeps coming! More music for 3-6yrs – and 6yrs+ in Guitar & Singing!

So here at The Music Box we are in the final run up to Summer Holidays, and things are busy!  But the music doesn’t stop for Summer!  Our annual Summer Camp is no open for registration too, so don’t miss that for ages 6+.  For our 3-6yrs, classes continue on Wednesday afternoons till the end of JUNE, but our popular SATURDAY MORNING CLUB is now also running so get in touch to book your place!  Come now and then, or come every week, but please be sure to get in touch – we don’t like to over-cr18268184_1527948123883999_6091671377826825843_nowd!

Here are the details for Summer Camp!  It’s jam packed with new and old songs, both for singers and guitarists.  We have guest tutors for a new perspective and lots of fun along the way.  It’s a great way to learn about collaboration, songwriting techiques and writing exercises.  Creating the music as well as the lyrics, and looking beyond song structure to the human elements of songwriting.  There is the option of a Singing/Songwriting camp, which requires no previous experience, or the Guitar/Songwriting camp which requires at least 6 months previous playing experience.




Here’s a link to our Saturday Morning Club for 3-6yrs!

Boogie Bugs – Summer show news, AND Saturday Morning club is coming back!!

cropped-boogiebugsjpeg1.jpgOur Littlest music makers have a busy time ahead, with our Mini Music Makers Saturday club starting again soon as well!

Our regular Wednesday class will be preparing for a wee summer show, nothing too serious, we like to make sure at this age that the focus is not on traditional ‘shows’, but on performance preparation, fun, creating a love of music, singing in the mic, taking the stage, trying lots of different kinds of music and instruments, sharing and learning together and fostering confidence that will stay with our children.  We’ll be singing you a few songs we’ve been learning together before we break for Summer hols, and we think you’ll love them ❤

Wednesday class continues till the end of June, but we’ll also be re-starting our SATURDAY MORNING CLUB soon too in The Exchange!  2 hours of crafts, instrument making, and singing dancing, trying new instruments, parachute games, microphone work etc.  This MINI MUSIC MAKERS series was always jammers last year so keep an eye out on the page for upcoming dates OR pm me now if you’d like to be contacted about those classes.

As summer approaches, we can also welcome some new kiddos to our Wednesday Boogie Bugs class which runs from 4-5pm in The Exchange in Buncrana, so let me know if you have a wee one that wants to be part of our happy musical family!

More singers performances, Guitar class updates, and yes – Summer Camp!!

musiWell it’s a hive of activity among all our groups at the minute.  Lots of new challenges across all the guitar groups, from new chords, to tabs and power chords, barre chords, songs, solos and our amazing resident guest tutor Rickey!

Singers have their SECOND outing of the year on May 11th, singing 3 songs at a Cashel na Cor fundraiser in the Lake of Shadows.  We’ll be meeting in the Lake at 7.45pm, and we’re on second, so probably around 8.15pm.

Believe it or not, summer shows are on our minds already, Attendance is really needed so pls keep the work up!

SUMMER CAMP is filling up already – there are two camps – guitar/songwriting OR singing/songwriting, with discounts for families or those attending both. I’ll be sure everyone gets forms/info this week that hasn’t yet before it’s opened to non members. GUITARISTS – Rickey is back this week for Thursday groups – I’m teaching the same exercises to our Wed class, and mentoring for our beginners starts in two weeks time. Full attendance and practice needed from now till summer




THE EXCHANGE BUNCRANA.  Phone Bernie @ 0863068655 if you have any questions.

10 – 13 July, 2017.  Singing/Songwriting 10 – 1pm, Guitar/Songwriting 1.30 – 4.30pm.


Music Box camps offer a great opportunity to further explore singing and guitar skills.  All campers will take part in a songwriting module with experienced songwriters.  Guitarists & Singers will have visiting tutors to give fresh perspective on old and new skills.  Places are always limited, so book early!!  Open to Music Box members and non members, Singers must be age 6 and up, and Guitarists must have 6 months experience at least.  Each Camp is €45, discounts are offered for those attending both camps (€70), or for siblings attending (€70).

Deposit of €20 payable upon booking.  

Songwriting Module (BOTH CAMPS). Where do song ideas come from?  How are songs structured?  Explore the art of songwriting in a relaxed atmosphere with experienced songwriters and craft a song with fellow campers.

Singing Module (Singing/Songwriting Camp only.)

Tone, Breathing, Chest & Head Voice exploration, Projection, Lots of exciting songs & harmonies. Guest tutor, Confidence building, stage work, performance skills.

Guitar Module (Guitar/Songwriting Camp only.)

Tabs, picking, new chords, challenging group, solo work and songs, and guest tutor to push our limits!

SHOWCASE (Both Camps)

Last half hour of each camp on Thursday 13th will be open for families to join us for a listen to what we’ve been learning.



STUDENT NAME:___________________________________________________________

CHOSEN CAMP: (Pls circle all that apply)


PHONE NUMBER:__________________________________________

ALLERGY INFORMATION:____________________________________________________

DEPOSIT ENCLOSED:_______________________________________________________


Winter Work……

This is a quiet time for shows, but a hectic time of work & progress in all our classes….Without performance deadlines we can knuckle down and improve everything we do and forge ahead in lessons.  300x300

With guitar it’s chords, notes, variations, visiting teachers, more difficult pieces, and in singing it’s tone, breathing, confidence, solo work and focused work in the group on improving our sound and controlling our voices.

What all this means is that these are the weeks and months where real


progress is made.  It also means attendance is really important, or work has to be repeated and time is lost in doing so week after week!

Whether you are a new guitarist or a veteran singer – group needs you!  It’s the basis of any good group that you attend for your fellow members so the whole group benefits.

We are off to a great start of new perspectives and ways of approaching our work, but we need all hands on deck to get the most of it.  Hope you see the differences come Summer! ❤

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 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!


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!! ❤

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 (
  • Inclusion of visual art & the well being of our children & community through art (
  • Encouragement  for adults to write & opportunity for them to perform through our non profit events – Live & Original (
  • Community & Voluntary work in the arts and other areas through The Exchange which we co-founded 4 years ago. (


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….



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.🙂


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.

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! ❤


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. 🙂


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 ❤


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 🙂