Music For Me

Music for Me was one of Common Ground’s core programmes of arts development from 2005 to 2012. It was open to children who access the services of Homework Clubs in Dublin 8.

Music for Me facilitated children to play, listen to, participate in and experience the type of music that appeals to them. Since 2005 the programme has been facilitated by professional musicians, in collaboration with homework club staff, and includes weekly and seasonal music sessions.

As an art form, music is deeply rooted in human nature. It is a unique form of communication and a means by which feelings and interests are organised and expressed. With this in mind, Music for Me aims to empower children to successfully communicate feelings and interests about themselves and the world around them. Each section of the programme involves elements of listening, responding, performing and composing, underpinned by a desire to create an atmosphere of joyful participation.

Listen to some recordings from Music for Me here 

The Aims of the Music for Me programme were to:

  • Broaden each child’s musical frame of reference.
  • Allow children to explore and experience different musical styles, genres, periods and cultures.
  • Provide a high quality service to all children accessing the music programme.
  • Encourage and support each child in making informed decisions about the type of music programme that they would like to access.
  • Enable the child to develop his/her natural abilities and potential.
  • Provide each child with the opportunity to practice newly acquired skills and techniques.
  • Enable each child to see and to solve problems creatively.
  • Enable each child to explore and express ideas, feelings and experiences.

The strands of the programme were delivered through:

Group music sessions – these take place during the school holidays and are structured to meet the developmental needs of each specific group.

Individual music sessions – these take place on a weekly basis between the child and a specific musician and last for the duration of the school year.

Performance – children are provided with the opportunity to perform on a regular basis in both local and wider community contexts.

Musical appreciation – this strand involves a dual process of musicians travelling to local venues to play for the children and the children travelling to professional venues to hear musicians play.

Training – opportunities for training are provided to all musicians and local leaders working on the programme. This aims to further their skills as music educators and to explore and develop appropriate training methodologies for all homework club leaders working on the programme.

Background and Performances

The Music for Me programme expanded considerably since its inception in the Dolphin House Homework Club in April 2005.

A short Introduction to Music programme provided the genesis of what was to become the Dolphin House Music Club where children between the ages of six and twelve came together at regular intervals to play and perform a broad range of percussive and musical instruments facilitated by musicians Elaine Agnew, Klaus Vormehr, Dara O’ Brien and Nick Roth.

In April 2007, in a culmination of nearly two years of the programme, an exciting musical performance of both Irish and International music was staged by the Dolphin House Music Club in the Rotunda Room of Dublin City Hall.

From September 2007, the programme continued to expand into Fatima Homework Club and the After Schools Programme of the Family Resource Centre at St. Michael’s Estate.

The Music for Me programme went from strength to strength and in 2009 in was celebrated in the form of two momentous performances by its participants: Hansel and Gretel at the National Gallery of Ireland and The Power of Music in the National Concert Hall.

In January 2012, Common Ground introduced the Music for Me programme, in the form of a school choir into Our Lady of the Wayside Primary School in Bluebell with musician Maeve O’Hara.

Music for Me has introduced a variety of music and musical instruments to its participants including

  • Guitar
  • Percussion
  • Piano and keyboard
  • Singing
  • Music and song composition


Musicians that have worked on the Music for Me programme in the past, many over an extended period of time, are:

  • Elaine Agnew
  • Kate Ellis
  • Brian Fleming
  • Eoin O’Brien
  • Dara O’Brien
  • Cora Venus Lunny
  • Klaus Vormehr
  • Ray Boyle
  • Pia Dunne
  • Mark Ellison
  • Robbie Harris
  • Peter Moran
  • Maeve O’Hara
  • Nick Roth

Hansel and Gretel

In 2009, as part of the Music for Me programme run by Common Ground, children from Dublin 8 performed their version of Humperdinck’s famous opera ‘Hansel and Gretel’ in the Shaw Room of the National Gallery.

Thirty children from the Dolphin House Homework Club in Rialto performed live with five professional musicians their own version of Humperdinck’s famous Opera Hansel and Gretel.

This performance was the culmination of a year’s work by the Homework Club, a programme of the Rialto Youth Project.

The professional musicians included Elaine Agnew, who in 2008 was appointed as the first RTÉ lyric fm Composer-in-Residence in association with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra. This year she is a commissioned composer at this years BBC Proms and her new work Dark Hedges will be premiered at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Elaine has been involved in the Music for Me programme since she facilitated the very first workshop on day one. Nick Roth, saxophonist, composer, educator and producer, worked with the children on a weekly basis in the Homework Club, accompanied by skilled guitarist and sitar player Dara O’Brien.

“I really don’t think there’s another programme like this one,’ Agnew comments, ‘it strives to cater for the needs of each individual child and I think that is what keeps us involved as musicians and makes the work truly unique.”

The Power of Music

In 2009, a new composition entitled The Power of Music was performed at the National Concert Hall by a group of young musicians from Dolphin House Homework Club.

After working together for five years as a part of Common Ground’s Music for Meprogramme, the event showcased the musical and compositional skills and talents of the children who were accompanied by professional musicians and composers.

The unique event was performed by Dolphin House Homework Club members Chelsea Whelan, Nicole Kelly, Kyle Dunphy, Lydia Lynham, Megan Whelan, Chloe Henrick, Saoirse Conlon, David Ring, Shannon Patterson and Kelly Doyle from Dolphin House Homework Club together with acclaimed musicians Elaine Agnew and Nick Roth.

The Power of Music is based on the fairy story written by Sinead de Valera which explores the affect music can have on us – how it can make us laugh, cry, dance and even sleep.

Elaine Agnew, musician and co-composer said “We couldn’t believe their creativity. I’ve worked with these children for five years and there was something about this fairy story that unlocked a creativity that was previously unseen.”

The performance marked a dream come through for many of the young musicians who explained how important the Music for Me programme is to them: “I started when I was 11. Now I’m 14 and I still really look forward to it. If Music for Me at Dolphin stopped I’d be disappointed because every Wednesday you’re learning something new.”

Irma Grothuis, Arts Development Worker at Common Ground commented, “We have worked really hard with our project partner Dolphin House Homework Club to seed and expand Music for Me. It is a fantastic public celebration of the expertise and skills built up by the children and musicians in a five year period. The support extended to us from the National Concert Hall has been amazing, it means a great deal to the children to perform here in front of everyone.”

Music for Me Publication

A publication celebrating the achievements of the Music for Me programme was launched on 30th October 2012. It was formally launched by Orlaith McBride, Director of the Arts Council with special guest Brian Kennedy in attendance. Muisic was performed by children from the After Schools Club in St Michaels Estate, Fatima Homework Club and Dolphin House Homework Club.

Music equipment for this programme was donated to Common Ground’s musical instrument bank by the IRMA Trust and purchased through Dormant Accounts Funding.