Music is an important part of the life of the Academy with a mixture of practical and theory work in the junior cycle. An outline of the content covered in the junior cycle Music curriculum is given below.
Music is known to develop both sides of the brain (“Music and the Brain” Norman M. Weinberger, Neurobiologist). Studying songs and works and learning composition develops skills in critical thinking and analysis. Choir performance, on the other hand, encourages teamwork and inspires confidence. Instrument playing or solo singing encourages self-discipline. Practice is strongly encouraged. St. Augustine said, “to sing is to pray twice”. Music is a way to express ourselves. A subject which is a large part of everyone’s life, increasing knowledge of Music will address the varying experiences of different students entering second level education, bringing them together to create something beautiful.
Most of our well known classical or western art music comes from these eras in music. Composers such as Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, Tchaikovsky, Bizet, and many more are familiar. Studying works of these composers opens a whole new world of entertainment as well as the ability to attend concerts and listen with an attentive ear. Such knowledge enhances all musical skills. Nationalism was present during this period, so it ties in well to a further study of Irish music and the attempts to preserve it.
To build on the knowledge gained in year one, notation, composition, performance (singing and instrumental), and aural work will continue this year. The knowledge and ability in each of these areas will be strengthened, increasing their confidence. The harp tradition is the nearest thing to classical music in Ireland (O’Carolan lived during the Baroque era). An historic line in classical music is continued so the development can be clearly understood. The study of folk songs continues to allow awareness that folk music was always present simultaneously with western art music.
This year is an important year to show students the knowledge gained from the first three year and how to apply it. They also need to continue the historical line up to the present in Classical and Irish music. Skills developed over the last three years in performance, composition and listening are now cemented and improved. Musical skills are acquired through integrated lessons including all elements of music: performance, listening, and composition.