PROVIDING tuition in traditional music to all irrespective of race, religion, age or gender has been the ethos of Glengormley School of Traditional Music for 17 years and counting.
Based at Edmund Rice College, the independent voluntary school has grown to become one of the main arts bodies in North Belfast and beyond with an average of 200 pupils attending classes.
Chairperson Ray Morgan helped found Glengormley School of Traditional Music from small music classes at St Enda’s GAC.
“I was cultural officer at St Enda’s GAA club and we started tin whistle and bodhrán classes,” he recalled.
“It just got so popular really that we started Glengormley School of Traditional Music which has gone from strength to strength ever since.
“We cater for all ages, mainly from 8 to 80 years old. We have pupils of all ages and abilities and are proud of the fact we are cross-community and also cater for people with a disability. We try to be as welcoming and facilitating as possible.
“Our motto is providing traditional music for all.”
As for tuition, it is very much a case of you name a traditional music instrument and Glengormley School of Traditional Music will provide tuition for you – including the Fiddle, Flute, Tin Whistle, Button Accordian, Bodhrán, Banjo, Uileann Pipes, Harp and many more.
“We are very much about Irish traditional music that we provide the opportunity to learn. We are lucky that we have such quality tutors who are traditional musicians themselves which enables them to share their knowledge and experience with the pupils.
“Every traditional instrument there is, we provide tuition in.
“ We think we are different and unique. The social side of things is very important for us. Traditional music should be played as a group and in front of other people and our pupils are always given the chance with live performances and trips across Ireland.
“It is all about craic agus ceol!”
Ray would encourage anyone who has an interest in traditional music to get in touch and try something new.
“Our Belfast summer school has been very successful to date and attracts musicians from all over,” he added.
“We keep it affordable for people and are supported by the Arts Council through the Lottery Fund which enables us to provide relatively cheap tuition.
“Come along and have a go – we are very inclusive and happy to give everybody the opportunity to learn traditional music.
“We also have great contacts with local schools.
“As for the future, Glengormley School of Traditional Music will only go from strength to strength.
“I hope the support we receive from the local community continues.
“The traditional music scene in Belfast is very strong and Glengormley School of Traditional Music will continue to contribute to that.
“We are extremely proud of the reputation we have built up over the years and long may it continue.”
Glengormley School of Traditional Music is based at Edmund Rice College, 96-100 Hightown Road, Newtownabbey, BT36 7AU. Classes take place on Thursday nights from 7.30pm to 9.30pm.
For more information, visit www.gsotm.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org