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Pupils in rehearsal's for Knockanean National School's performance in the Walton's Music For Schools Competition at the National Concert Hall on April 8. Photograph by John Kelly

Dublin date for Knockanean

The stage is set for a group of talented youngsters from Knockanean National School in Ennis who have qualified to perform at the National Concert Hall in Dublin early next month.
The school has been chosen as one of just six national schools from all over Ireland to take part in the final of the Walton’s RTÉ Lyric Music for Schools Competition, which takes place in Dublin on April 8.
Guided by teachers Amy McEnnis, Conor O’Loughlin, Tina Gavin and Louise Conheady, the young musicians and singers crafted a five minute long musical video together, which combines a number of existing songs and tunes to explore the theme of ‘Music Moves’.
The school has a rich tradition in music and the arts and the successful group was made up of 63 students from the school’s music club and choir. According to second year teacher, Amy McEnnis, the children did much of the creative work for the composition themselves, with the teachers just guiding their efforts.
“It was a great collaboration. It was a combination of some of the tunes that we have learned over the years. We decided to include some of those songs that we really liked,” she said.
“It was amazing as it came together. The children became very involved, there were songs that they particularly liked, so we decided to put those in.
“We had to transition between the different pieces of music and the children were great at coming up with ideas as to how we might achieve these transitions.
“It became such a collaborative journey, that is what was really precious about it.
“It became the children’s own composition. We changed the words of the rap, for example. It is a rap by Macklemore, but we changed it to fit our own situation.
“The children were involved in every step. We were just the guide, we guided them along the way.”
The Walton’s RTÉ Lyric Music for Schools Competition is one of Ireland’s foremost student music competitions. Just 12 schools from throughout the country make it to the grand final each year, six primary and six post primary. This year’s competition is the first since 2019, as the event was suspended during the Covid 19 Pandemic. Responding to the theme of ‘Music Moves’, the students and music teachers chose to combine music from a wide variety of backgrounds into one central musical moment.
“The idea is that you come up with a five minute piece of music on the theme, which can be an original piece of music or an interpretation,” said Ms McEnnis.
“We were very busy before Christmas, so it wasn’t until January that we really sat down and started to think about it.
“We thought about it in terms of music moving you emotionally, moving you physically, and I also thought about it moving you through different musical genres as well.
“We wanted to bring people on a musical journey. The listeners, we hope, are brought on this journey from modern contemporary music which moves into a slip jig, before going into a rap and from the rap on to classic and then into pop, when we perform Viva la Vida by Coldplay.
“After that we go on to ‘Hit The Road Jack’ and then finally back to the modern contemporary piece.
“We had to fit all of that into five minutes, which was a serious task. To reduce down all of that and make it all work together in just five minutes.”
This is not Knockanean National School’s first experience of competing in the Walton Music Competition.
Indeed, the school has had some great success in the competition over the years, qualifying to perform in the National Concert Hall on three different occasions under the direction of Joan McNamara.
This crop of talented students and teachers will be busy rehearsing over the Easter break and hopes are high for a good and fun performance at the finals in the National Concert Hall on November 8.
“It was a great honour to be chosen to take part in the final,” said Ms Ennis.
“The journey that we took to put the song together was so amazing that we didn’t really mind what happened. But to be chosen to perform on the big stage is really the icing on the cake. We already feel like we have won.
“We have to come in over Easter to practice but we don’t mind. We’re delighted to be doing it.”
Founded in 2012, the Walton’s RTÉ Lyric Music for Schools Competition is a non-profit national event celebrating and supporting music in schools right across Ireland.
The competition’s objective is to promote the enormous benefits of creative music making for young people.
Its open nature offers schools the opportunity to think and work creatively in any genre of music and with any combination of students, developing an original musical project that has learning potential at every stage of the process.
Each year’s competition culminates in a gala Finalists Concert in the National Concert Hall, in which twelve Finalist school music groups, six primary and six post-primary, perform before their peers and two distinguished adjudicators.
At the end of the Finalists Concert, the adjudicators announce six winning groups which receive trophies and awards totalling €7,000 worth of vouchers for musical instruments and equipment from Waltons Music Ireland. This vouchers can be used by the school to strengthen its collection of musical instruments and help it to offer even greater tuition to its students

Andrew Hamilton

Andrew Hamilton is a journalist, writer and podcaster based in the west of Ireland.

About Andrew Hamilton

Andrew Hamilton is a journalist, writer and podcaster based in the west of Ireland.

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