Fiddle and Guitar workshops with The April Verch Band

The April Verch Band


We are lucky enough to have the opportunity to avail of a workshop with the April Verch Band on Saturday 16th May (afternoon) in Blessington. April and her band are touring around the country that week so we are really delighted to be fortunate enough to grab this unique chance to play and learn alongside April and Hayes.

We have a small number of places left in the Fiddle Styles workshop with April and can now offer places on a workshop with guitarist Hayes Griffin. Workshops are for musicians under 18 years of age and are sponsored by both Music Network and Music Generation Wicklow jointly. There is no participation fee and only a €5 registration fee.

To book a place please email Evan Kenny West Wicklow Co-ordinator at ei.btewknull@ynneknave or phone 086 0450375 as soon as possible.


Guitar:  Duration 90 minutes: 

This class will cover all things guitar, from flatpicking fiddle tunes and improvising solos to accompaniment and chord solo arrangements on bluegrass, old time, jazz and swing music!  Together, participants will learn to create interesting arrangements that enhance their strengths on the instrument.  We’ll get into music theory, guitar mechanic and provide the tools and inspiration to help you overcome any plateau.

Canadian Fiddle Styles: Duration 90 minutes

There are several different regional styles of fiddling in Canada from coast to coast, including Ottawa Valley, Western Canadian, Metis, Maritime, Cape Breton and French Canadian.

This class will provide an overview of these different styles and explore what makes each of them unique.  Participants will learn to play at least one tune distinctive to each style and apply the bowing patterns and ornamentation techniques that correspond to regional Canadian fiddle styles.Tunes will be taught ‘by ear’ please feel free to bring your recording device and lots of questions, as the class will be tailored to suit your needs and requests. We will be mindful of keeping with the roots of this tradition – getting together to make music and have a great time in a relaxed, social environment.

The high-octane April Verch Band provides a foot-stomping concert in May with their infectious brand of North American roots music. The band’s fondness for a killer dance tune leads it on a joyful journey through North American roots music, from bluegrass and old-time to western swing, and honours its myriad of influences including French, Irish and Scottish traditional music. Their legendary performances are a lesson in how to win fans for life: April is a world-class fiddler, a champion Ottawa Valley step dancer, an acclaimed composer, and a singer whose voice has been hailed as “absolutely captivating” by the Toronto Star. The band is rounded out by bassist and clawhammer banjo player Cody Walters and guitarist Hayes Griffin is an energetic, skilful, tradition-celebrating outfit. They have established a reputation as consummate performers, winning over audiences not only with sheer virtuosity on their respective instruments, but also with charm, humour and boundless energy on stage.

“Playful and flirtatious, whimsical and wry… a transcendent level of musicianship where hard-earned technique can be safely abandoned.”  – Toronto Star

“Award-winning fiddler, step dancing expert, and vocalist April Verch brings new meaning to the word multi-tasking… she is a consummate musician whose mastery of fiddle  playing technique has left her free to fully explore the fiddle  as a vehicle for self-expression.”  – Fiddler Magazine

“Authentic and powerful”  – Roots Music Canada

“Absolutely captivating” – Toronto Star

Jazz Teaching and Learning Workshop- Saturday 2nd May 10.30pm


Music Generation Wicklow in collaboration with Bray Jazz Festival continues its annual series of educational workshops this year in the company of the great musician and educator, Pete Churchill. Pianist, singer, conductor and arranger, Pete Churchill is one of the most respected educators in jazz music in the UK. A highly regarded figure in jazz education, this inspirational workshop is aimed at teachers, tutors and workshop leaders. It will explore teaching by ear and working without notation and resources, through singing and movement.

All are welcome to attend, and admission is free of charge. Because of space constraints pre-event registration is advised by contacting Mermaid Arts Centre box office on (01) 2724030.

Bluebottle – A musical spectacle! Composed especially for the children participating in Music Generation Wicklow’s Choral Music Programme

Flyer for the web 

Blue Bottle – A musical spectacle.

The story of young Nancy whose father sings all day long until one day he stops, and Nancy must find out why. 

Involving Music Generation Wicklow’s  500 piece Children’s Choir with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and live shadow animation

Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Sunday 23rd November at 5pm. 

Commissioned by Wicklow County Council.

    Get your tickets now!!!

Wicklow County Council on behalf of Music Generation, and Wide Open Music in association with the RTÉ NSO, is delighted to announce the much anticipated performance of Blue Bottle! Blue Bottle has been composed especially for the children participating in Music Generation Wicklow’s Choral Music Programme by Brian Irvine.  The words have been written by John McIlduff and animation created by Matthew Robbins with conductor Fergus Sheil.

Blue Bottle is a musical spectacle, the story of young Nancy whose father sings all day long until one day he stops, and Nancy must find out why. Performed with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and live shadow animation at Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Sunday 23rd November at 5pm. Commissioned by Wicklow County Council as part of the ongoing Per Cent for Art Commissions Strand.  

Music Generation funding to continue….

Jumping for joy




August 12th 2014: Music Generation, the music education programme initiated by Music Network following a €7m philanthropic donation by U2 and The Ireland Funds, is set to become a long-term and lasting part of the national music education landscape from this July when the Department of Education & Skills commences phased co-funding of the programme with Local Music Education Partnerships, commencing with Louth, Mayo and Sligo.

Music Generation provides young people with access to high quality subsidised vocal and instrumental tuition in their local area. Music Generation Wicklow, set up in 2012, is one of 12 Music Education Partnerships. Music Generation Wicklow has provided tuition for up to 3800  children and young people and providing employment for some 27 musicians.

In January 2013 the Department of Education and Skills announced it would begin the phasing in of its co-funding from July 2014 with Local Music Education Partnerships with a view to these partners completely replacing the original philanthropic donation by 2016. The €7m donation from U2 (€5m) and The Ireland Funds (€2m) made in 2009 was the largest ever single philanthropic donation to music education in Ireland in the history of the state.

Commenting on this next stage of Music Generation’s development, The Edge said; “I believe it’s a documented fact that exposure to music makes a better society. We’re still practicing but we were lucky enough to attend a school with a great music programme and that is why Music Generation is so important to us. We are very proud of its success and the fact that it will continue into the future.”


Vanished Lands – Neil Martin

Neil Martin - Group Shot

Vanished Lands by Composer Neil Martin commissioned by Wicklow County Council under the Per Cent for Art Scheme on behalf of Music Generation Wicklow premiered in Tulfarris Hotel, Blessington Lakes, 6 July 2014

Wicklow County Council of behalf of Music Generation Wicklow commissioned composer Neil Martin to engage with young people attending the traditional music groups: Club Cheol na Lochanna and Music under the Mountains. The result is a new work for classical and traditional ensemble, entitled Vanished Lands – Music inspired by the Poulaphuca Reservoir. It was performed featuring a trio of professional musicians performing alongside the young people: Sylvia Roberts and Catherine Humphreys (violin), Eimear Saunders (oboe) and directed by Neil Martin (cello).

Watch an excerpt of the performance here:

Mostly Me By Elaine Agnew

Elaine Agnew - Conducting


Commissioned by Wicklow County Council under the Per Cent for Art Scheme and on behalf of Music Generation Wicklow, Mostly Me is the result of Elaine Agnew’s work with first and second classes from St Brigid’s National School, Greystones; Newtownmountkennedy National School and St Laurence O’Toole National School, Roundwood.

The piece premiered in the Mermaid Arts Centre, Bray on 8 June 2014 is a composition of songs and percussion for children aged between 6 and 8 years. Elaine Agnew carried out 3 workshops in each school as part of the project. Working with the Music Generation Wicklow tutors the children were actively involved in the writing of the piece, in particular in the writing of words for the numerous songs it contains. At the end of the process a book of worksheets will be compiled by Elaine for rolling out across the Foundation Music Programme.

View Rehearsal footage and interview with Elaine Agnew for ‘Mostly Me’ 

Mostly Me By Elaine Agnew

Up the Downbeat by George Higgs

New Notes Now - Up the Downbeat

The 12-minute work, Up the Downbeat, is a commission from Wicklow County Council on behalf of Music Generation Wicklow for large ensemble including strings, woodwind, brass, and percussion.

The musicians for the piece included 14 young people from the VAULT Arklow Youth Centre and 15 members of the St Mary’s College orchestra, Arklow, under the direction of Christine Steele.

The performance took place in St Mary’s College on 16 May 2014 as part of the ‘Arklow Youth Music Project’ – a showcase of the diverse musical talents of young people in Arklow hosted by the VAULT.

Listen to George talk about the piece here

George Higgs Final Poster


52 young people from across Wicklow participate in inaugural Music Generation Big Sing


Sunday April 6th 2014:  Acclaimed U.S Choral Conductor Dr. Doreen Rao led 400 children and young children from across Ireland in the inaugural Big Sing held on Sunday April 6th in the Mansion House, Dublin. Over 52 young people from Wicklow took part in the event, organised by Music Generation – the U2 and Ireland Funds’ supported national music education programme. This was the first time that Music Generation participants from across Ireland performed together on a national stage and marks the culmination of the Choral Music Education Programme, run in association with Association of Irish Choirs and the Choral Music Experience Institute.

Dr. Doreen Rao is the Director of the US Institute for Choral Teacher Education and is credited with revolutionising the landscape in conducting and music education in North America. Her interactive conducting and music education methods are inspired by diversity, a healing practice rooted in ancient cultures and a mindfulness practice. In advance of today’s event Dr. Rao has been travelling across Ireland delivering choral workshops to Music Generation students. This included a visit to St Mary’s National School, Coolfancy, Tinahely on the 2nd of April.

Wicklow Gang MGWSpeaking at the event Dr. Rao said “Today, being surrounded by all these wonderful young people who have put so much energy and enthusiasm into the songs they sing, has been a truly inspirational experience.  The sense of happiness and joy in this room is tangible and I was truly honoured to lead today’s performance.

“For the past week I have had the opportunity to travel right across the country and work really closely with Music Generation, the students and the tutors delivering choral workshops. Through this I have seen how Music Generation is empowering children and young people to celebrate music and their own talent.  I also wish to commend all the partner groups who have helped bring the event together – with so much commitment and energy shown one has to think that the future looks bright for choral music education in Ireland”

The hugely successful and innovative Choral Music Education Programme that has been running since September, has brought together some forty choral conductors, choir leaders and music teachers to study with Dr. Rao and an expert faculty and is supporting singing and choral projects throughout the country. Music Generation National Director Rosaleen Molloy said “The Big Sing is the very first time that we have been able to bring so many young people involved in Music Generation together to perform and we are very lucky to have had Dr. Doreen Rao here lead us on this momentous occasion.  Her methodology has inspired much of the Music Generation ethos, she is an exceptional choral conductor and an inspirational music educator whose approach has transformed music education in North America.

“The Big Sing was a truly once in a lifetime opportunity and I have to thank the hard work that our 400 choristers put in in advance and the energy they brought to their performance today.  It is an incredibly proud moment for us all!”