The course can cater for up to 20 Irish or Ireland-based professional musicians and composers.
The programme aims to provide Irish and Ireland-based professional musicians and composers with the appropriate skills, resources and materials to deliver high-quality, interactive musical experiences in a range of outreach settings including schools, community settings, healthcare and early years music.
The programme is offered on an annual basis and is delivered in a series of two residential course weekends: one in autumn and one in spring. The residential aspect of the programme provides a space where the course participants get to know one another. They are encouraged to view one another as a resource and a future network that they can tap into for on-going support.
In 2011, Music Network partnered with Waterford Healing Arts Trust whereby participating musicians prepared, delivered and evaluated guided ‘on-ward’ activities in three different healthcare settings associated with WHAT during the second course weekend.
The course weekends are delivered in a workshop style, creating an participative and engaging learning environment. The materials presented during the workshops include songs, rhythmic games, use of rhythm and melodic percussion instruments, and approaches to developing improvised work as well as effective use of the voice, presence and awareness of self in a workshop or interactive context. Resources addressed during the course promote best practice with discussions and advise on how to develop policies on child protection, working with schools, working with people with disabilities, working with older people and guidelines specific to working in a healthcare environment. The importance of reflection and evaluation along with the documentation and development of this work is also considered.
The programme is subsidised by Music Network. However, course participants must be supported by a bursary from their Local Authority Arts Office, a Professional Performing Organisation or other relevant body. This approach allows all suitable applicants the opportunity to access the programme without any personal financial burden while simultaneously assisting Local Authority Arts Officers and other key support organisations with an option to provide affordable, high quality, specialist professional development opportunities to musicians living and working in their locality.
At the conclusion of each course weekend, participants and facilitators complete evaluation forms and this feedback informs inform course weekend reports and the final programme report. These reports are distributed to the supporting bodies and form the basis for planning the next programme.
The parallel developments in 2008 and 2010 of new European Projects in focusing solely in the skills required for musicians working in healthcare contexts will assist in augmenting not only the professional skills of musicians working in healthcare contexts in Ireland, but also the skills of those musicians to train others to work in healthcare settings here in Ireland, thus developing an indigenous approach to this work.
Waterford Healing Arts Trust