Cork Academy of Music Ltd was established as a voluntary initiative in 1994 to provide an access route to music education for people who are socially economically or culturally disadvantaged. The Cork Academy of Music was largely brought about by a high degree of voluntary commitment from the Cork Academy of Music’s Board of Management, the support of State funding under SOLAS and the Cork Education Training Board. The Cork Academy of Music was created to give people, the underprivileged, marginalised and socially excluded the opportunity to study music using music as a tool for social inclusion.
The holistic model employed has proved to be hugely successful in providing a foundation and access programme in music education, music notation and the playing of musical instruments. Community Education has a strong ethos and has the capacity to reach large numbers of participants, frequently in disadvantaged settings; pioneer new approaches to teaching and learning in non-hierarchical, community-based settings taking the lived experience of the participants as a starting point.
Since its inception the Cork Academy of Music boasts over 2500 students who have successfully achieved internationally recognised standards, through our external examination board The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. Sixty students have progressed to further education and have successfully completed 3rd Level Education and a number of our past students have progressed to Post Graduate Level in Universities in Ireland. Former students of the Academy have returned as tutors on our programmes and significantly high numbers of past students have obtained gainful employment in the Music Industry.
The excellent results achieved by the Academy are an example of how, with non-exorbitant sums of money, disadvantage can be overturned and people can reach their full potential with non-reliance on the structure and dependence of social assistance. In September 2013, 9 students, from our Community Employment Scheme and Back to Education Initiative classes, progressed to 3rd Level education in University College Cork’s Music Degree, UCC Department of Applied Social Studies, the Cork School of Music and Waterford Institute of Technology.
The Academy provides students with FETAC Major Level Awards under QQI Quality Assurance Standard programmes. The Academy is a recognised centre in the National Framework of Qualifications, Ireland. Modules provided include music industries study, music theory, I.T. skills, mathematics, communications, work experience, personal effectiveness, personal development and career information. In addition the Cork Academy of Music has developed a new and innovative music technology department and a piano laboratory to enhance our students’ potential in music training.
In 2009 the Academy developed a music programme for young people, 18 to 22 year olds early school leavers and ‘at risk’ young people in cooperation with the Department of Social Protection, Cork City Council and the City of Cork VEC, prior to 2009 the Academy’s main student intake was comprised of adults, mature students over 25 years. Using our own modules and training, with modifications, we achieved extraordinary results in this programme, 20 participants excelled in external music examinations and FETAC Major Award modules. For young people who had little or no experience in music, this programme has helped to change their lives. They have progressed to third level education, further education and employment.