Guest Post: Ceol Ireland

Thanks to Carmel Dunne and Ali Giusti for their guest article about Ceol, a music programme for primary schools.  Ceol has been around since 1998 in classrooms and is widely considered to be the best music programme on the market.  In this article, the concept of Ceol is explained.
More than any other subject, music has an incredibly stimulating effect on a child’s brain. Stimulation by the best music experiences hot-wires the two hemispheres of the young brain. It’s a fact that has been proven by myriad scientific studies (in Stanford University, Toronto University, etc.), and something that Carmel Dunne’s personal experience has borne out. Carmel set up Ceol in 1998. Ceol is a curriculum support, approved programme that offers innovative music education for primary schools from Junior Infants upwards, as well as pre-schoolers.

We want to make this island of Ireland a truly musical country and start with the youngest and get them to really, really love music. And why not do it through the place where they’re meant to be doing it anyway –  schools.

The project has now expanded beyond her wildest dreams. “We never expected it to go beyond ten schools in Ballyfermot and now there are 350 schools throughout Ireland”, she says. Children love the programme, their teachers do too as the curriculum comes alive, as intended by the Department of Education & Skills. The Ceol approach is entirely different to teaching methods of yore. Carmel, who spent 33 years in the public service and for whom music was always a hobby, recalls disliking piano lessons as a child. “The way I was taught was very formal and it wasn’t fun at all. But we’ve made it as fun as possible and we don’t introduce children to the stave or notes immediately”, she says.  “One teacher said to me recently that her junior infants are now reading notes and they don’t realise that they are now more literate in music than they are in any other language. By the time they are ready for instruments, they can do anything because they have pitch, rhythm, listening and responding, composition and they have an appreciation of different kinds of music without even knowing it.” Carmel’s colleague, Ali Giusti, is a very musically creative addition to Ceol Ireland since 2006 and has added hugely to the immensely popular, nationwide programmes.

Carmel Dunne is the founder and executive director of Ceol Ireland. Ali Giusti, a professional musician joined the CEol Ireland team in 2006 as the creative development and training executive.

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