Creating access to high quality
performance music education

About Music Generation Clare

Music Generation Clare is part of Music Generation, Ireland’s National Music Education Programme which transforms the lives of children and young people through access to high-quality, subsidised performance music education. Established by its parent company Music Network, Music Generation is co-funded by U2, The Ireland Funds, the Department of Education and Skills (DES) and Local Music Education Partnerships (MEPs).

Music Generation believes in every child and young person’s musical potential and their innate artistry; that it is every child and young person’s right to have the choice of access and the chance to participate as a musical citizen and that music doesn’t just change lives, it transforms lives.

As part of a national network, Music Generation Clare (MGCE) is managed and funded locally by Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board, with key funding support coming from Clare County Council.

How Making Music Supports
Intellectual, Social And Personal Development

Considerable evidence has shown that everyday listening skills are stronger in musically-trained children than in those without. Listening skills are closely tied to the ability to perceive speech in a noisy background, discriminate between sounds, pay attention and keep sounds in memory.

The skills used in language processing are similar to the skills needed to perceive rhythm, harmony and melody. Studies have shown that children with musical experience are able to make stronger distinctions between speech syllables than those without.

Because singing behaviour is multi-sited neurologically, singers tend to have greater connections between different areas of the brain than non-singers. This means that singing has a positive impact on how various areas of the brain interact and develop, including those related to music, language, fine motor behaviour, visual imagery, human social interaction, and coordination.

Research has shown that children with reading difficulties have experienced improvement after engaging with music. A study of 15 children identified as ‘poor readers’ by their school demonstrated significant gains in reading comprehension, accuracy, and rate of reading following a rhythmic music intervention.

Children with musical training have been found to have significantly better verbal learning and retention abilities. In research investigating the influence of group instrumental training on the working memory of children, the music group showed a greater increase on every measure of verbal memory than science and control groups.

There is strong and reliable evidence that active engagement with music leads to dramatic improvements in spatial reasoning – the abilities that form the basis for performance in engineering, architecture and design.

Music enhances self-efficacy, self-esteem, improvements in mood, reduced anger, increased motivation and improved behaviour. For young people not in education, training or employment, active engagement with music-making enhances self- confidence, increases aspirations and supports a more positive attitude towards learning.

Making music in a group has been shown to contribute to feelings of social inclusion, as well as to encourage tolerance and the development of social ethics. There is also evidence that collective music-making promotes elements of positive social behaviour including co-operation, belongingness, collaborative learning, group identity, turn-taking and teamwork.

Music is increasingly being recognised for its beneficial effects on physical health and wellbeing. Music-making can contribute to improved negotiation skills, co-operative working and learning to trust peers. It provides respite from problems, supports healing, and creates opportunities for having fun.

Executive functions involve the conscious control of action, thoughts, emotions, and general abilities such as planning and problem-solving. Playing a musical instrument, particularly in an ensemble, requires many skills associated with executive functioning, including sustained attention and goal-directed behaviour.

What we want to do is really simple. We just want to make sure that everyone, whatever their background, gets access to music tuition. That’s the idea.


How Music And Access To Music Tuition
Promotes Positive Mental Health

Numerous studies have concluded that music and music education have a statistically significant impact on the wellbeing of participants. A year-long study by Noise Solution found that, following music outreach, the percentage of participants experiencing a low level of wellbeing decreased to less than 20%. Another study by Rhythmix concluded that many young people find that music can help them to take steps towards improved mental health and wellbeing.

Singing has been proven to reduce anxiety and depression. A study by the Sidney De Haan Research Centre shows that singing reduced participants’ feelings of mental distress, anxiety and depression, and improved their mental wellbeing more generally. Research has also concluded that there are a range of health and wellbeing benefits associated with participating in a choir, including physical relaxation and release of physical tension, emotional release and reduction of feelings of stress, a sense of happiness, positive mood, joy and elation.

Neuroscientists are demonstrating that there is a causal connection between music study and cognitive growth. A report from The Royal Conservatory found that ‘music education is a powerful tool for attaining children’s full intellectual, social, and creative potential’. It speed ‘the development of speech and reading skills’, training ‘children to focus their attention for sustained periods’, and helping ‘children gain a sense of empathy’, all of which are conducive to positive mental health.

Evidence suggests that participating in music lessons with their child/children allows parents to feel ‘among equals’. Parents feel recognition and connected with a group, reinforcing a sense of competent parenting and parental sensitivity. A safe place is created for both child and parent.

In her report The Power of Music, Susan Hallam describes how playing an instrument provides a means of self-expression and leads to a sense of achievement, increased confidence and self-esteem, self-discipline and persistence in overcoming frustrations when learning is difficult. Moreover, as part of his impact evaluation research into the UK’s Sing Up Programme, Professor Graham Welch cited attitudinal data revealing that children with experience of Sing Up are significantly more positive about themselves, have a stronger sense of belonging to their community and of being socially included.

Music makes a major contribution to the development of self-identity during adolescence. Reports show that participating in musical groups promotes friendships with like-minded people, social and networking skills, a sense of belonging, team work, co- operation, responsibility, commitment and mutual support.

Music has been linked to an increased capacity to recognise and be sensitive to emotions, traits which are both related to the development of emotional intelligence.

The concept of possible selves in music is a powerful one that conveys the transformational potential for children and young people’s meaning-making experiences in music. Because of the experiences children and young people have, it is possible for them to imagine a role for music in their lives and to strive on their own and with others to achieve this. A research partnership commissioned by Music Generation with DCU found that there is a range of possible selves, which might include being connected to others through music, to being musically creative, innovative and inventive with music, taking a leadership role in music, or simply having music as a significant, personally expressive part of one’s life.

Executive functions involve the conscious control of action, thoughts, emotions, and general abilities such as planning and problem-solving. Playing a musical instrument, particularly in an ensemble, requires many skills associated with executive functioning, including sustained attention and goal-directed behaviour.

U2 and Music Generation Ireland

In 2009 U2 and The Ireland Funds gifted a €7m philanthropic donation to music education in Ireland with a very clear intention. The philanthropic donation was gifted to seed-fund phased implementation of Music Network’s Feasibility Study for a National System of Local Music Education Services

Since it was established, Music Generation Clare’s impact on transforming the landscape for performance music education has been remarkable with over 1000 opportunities for children and young people to engage with music tuition in over 40 centres.

Music Generation focuses on the provision of performance music education – that is, the breadth of vocal and instrumental learning in all genres and styles of music. This includes all pedagogical approaches and practices appropriate to particular musical cultures and traditions, and is delivered by professional musician educators.

Recognised by the Department of Education and Skills as non-mainstream music education, performance music education complements and enriches – but does not replace – the mainstream music curriculum provision of the formal education system.

Back to Top