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Gwen Moore
Society for Music Education in Ireland, Chair

The Society for Music Education in Ireland (SMEI) is the INA for Ireland. SMEI was established in June 2010 following extensive consultation and correspondence, and a series of planning meetings during 2009 and early 2010. The first meeting took place against the background of the 6th Annual Symposium on the Sociology of Music Education, held in Limerick, Ireland, July 2009. INA status was granted in August 2010, and immediately afterwards representatives of the group held a meeting at the ISME World Conference in Beijing.

SMEI is an umbrella body of individuals, groups, institutions and organisations practicing in various aspects of music education on the island. Membership includes organisations, associations, institutions and individuals. Collectively our membership represents many music educators and those interested in music education throughout the island of Ireland. SMEI aims to provide a forum whereby:

  • members can discuss issues of common concern
  • identify areas of common practice
  • share information on topics of mutual interest

SMEI engages and works in partnership with other national music and music education organisations and we correspond with governmental agencies on matters relating to music education advocacy. We are also actively involved in the facilitation of workshops, conferences and showcase events at regional and national levels.

The SMEI operates a competitive scheme to award a limited number of grants to its members in support of music education research at international conferences in music education. This grant aims to assist music groups, postgraduate research students, non-affiliated scholars, or academics without recourse to institutional funds.

The SMEI acts as an advocacy group for music education and we aim to raise the profile and status of music education in Ireland on a national and international level. Our aim is to present a strong, unified voice in support of music education activities, while recognising the diversity of individuals, organisations/associations and institutions involved in music education in Ireland. We also actively encourage professional development initiatives in music education and we enable members to share their research and practice and to engage in professional development through a range of annual workshops, seminars and through our annual conference. Through these events, members are encouraged to network with other music professional music and teacher associations.

The SMEI operates a competitive scheme to award a limited number of grants to its members in support of music education research at international conferences in music education. This grant aims to assist music groups, postgraduate research students, non-affiliated scholars, or academics without recourse to institutional funds.

Ireland is renowned for its Irish traditional music and Popular/Rock bands but its classical music is perhaps less recognised and celebrated. Immediately bands/artists such as U2, The Cranberries, Enya and Sinéad O’Connor spring to mind as having achieved resounding international success, while the hit show Riverdance brought Irish traditional music and dance to a global platform. Despite commercial success vis-à-vis the music industry, music education provision in Ireland has a much contested history. Until recently, it is best described as multi-faceted and fragmented geographically, financially and in statutory provision. Schools deliver general music education through music curricula at primary and secondary levels though not all secondary schools offer music as a school subject and instrumental/vocal music education is primarily provided through music schools or private operators.

Identifying gaps in provision for instrumental/vocal music education in Ireland has been crucial to the creation and development of publicly funded local Music Education Partnerships (MEPs). Through the MEP infrastructure and following philanthropic funding by the rock group U2 and The Ireland Funds, Music Generation was established in 2010 to roll out a national music education programme for children and young people in performance music education. A review of the research report on Music Generation entitled ‘Possible Selves in Music’ here sheds light on the background of music education provision in Ireland, the many debates around music education provision and the philosophy underpinning the work of Music Generation.

In 2017, the Irish government announced a new strategy entitled Creative Ireland which among its initiatives includes ‘A national plan to enable every child in Ireland to access tuition in music, drama, art and coding’. What a welcome development! As the ISME INA for Ireland, the SMEI looks forward to working in partnership with individuals, associations, organisations and with ISME, to better advocate for music education locally, nationally and internationally.

For further information or to discuss any of these issues, please contact SMEI secretary Shannon or SMEI Chair Gwen