Take the Music Network Grade-1-a-thon Challenge!

Take the Music Network Grade-1-a-thon Challenge!
Want to start playing the musical instrument of your dreams? Beat the lockdown blues and kick off the New Year with a jazzy new hobby. It’s never too late to start playing a musical instrument!

Music Network is launching its Grade-1-a-thon Challenge and is calling on participants of all ages to join in and help raise the €50,000 needed to establish a national bank of musical instruments for use by people over the age of 65.

By taking part in the Grade-1-a-thon Challenge, you can learn to play the musical instrument of your dreams, with the added motivation that comes from asking friends and family for sponsorship.

We've teamed up with the Royal Irish Academy of Music for the Grade-1-a-thon Challenge so that participants can take their Royal Irish Academy of Music Grade 1 exams online free of charge (our allocation of free exams is now full, but you can still apply at the standard rate).

At Music Network we want to get the nation playing. Taking up a musical instrument might seem a bit daunting at first, but with a little practice every day you’ll soon reap the rewards. Is it hard work? Sometimes. Is it worth it? ALWAYS!

Ready to take the plunge? Here are 5 steps to getting started:

  1. The first thing you’ll need to do is select and find an instrument. Maybe you’ve got an instrument gathering dust in the attic, or perhaps you could ask around to see if you can borrow one from a friend or family member. If you’d like to hire or purchase an instrument, Music Network’s Instrument Hub lists many organisations and businesses who might be able to help, and it’s searchable by instrument and area. There’s also a helpful guide to selecting instruments.
  2. Once you’ve selected your instrument you’ll ideally need some lessons to help you to prepare for your Grade 1 exam. If you’re borrowing an instrument from a friend, why not ask them to help you learn as well? You can also google teachers in your area, or search for organisations who provide tuition with instrument hire on the Instrument Hub.
  3. Once you’re ready to start learning, please let us know that you're taking part by registering at the TAKE PART link below. We’ll send you a helpful fundraising guide along with instructions on setting up your fundraising page - you can do this on Music Network’s Grade-1-a-thon JustGiving page or on your own Facebook account.
  4. The Royal Irish Academy of Music has very generously waived the exam registration fee for a limited number of Music Network Grade-1-a-thon participants for the Summer 2021 online exam sessions. Unfortunately this free allocation is now used up. To join a waiting list in case anyone cancels, please email Catherine Hearn at development@musicnetwork.ie. Alternatively you can apply for your exam at the standard rate at RIAM.ie. The closing date for the summer online sessions is 5 April 2021.
  5. Make sure to let us know that you're taking part at the TAKE PART link below.
  6. And finally, don’t forget to share your progress on your own social media channels using the hashtag #MNGrade1athon and by tagging us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The more updates on your progress you share along the way, the more money you are likely to raise!

Please help us to raise the €50,000 we need to provide a bank of musical instruments for use by older people in a number of communities throughout Ireland by donating to our appeal, by sponsoring our Grade-1-a-thon Challenge or by taking on the Challenge yourself!

Playing music is the brain’s equivalent of a full body workout, enhancing memory and cognitive ability, while also boosting self-esteem and confidence. And it’s not just a spoonful of medicine. Learning an instrument and playing with other like-minded musicians brings new friendships, opportunities to socialise and creative self-expression to many people’s lives.

The advent of Covid-19 has amplified the loneliness that many older people already experience. As we age, we ideally acquire new skills and discover new interests which fulfil and enrich our lives. However, sometimes life can contract as we grow older, be that through illness, isolation or losing friends and loved ones. Creativity is a valuable way to reconnect with ourselves and continue on that journey of growth. At Music Network, we want to encourage more older citizens to become actively engaged in making music. We’re aiming to ensure that all people, not only professional musicians, are afforded the chance to participate as musical citizens.

We also know that by empowering and amplifying older voices, society as a whole will benefit. Just like an orchestra whose musicians play in harmony to produce a beautiful sound, a culture that includes and values all of its members will invariably reap the rewards.

Music Network’s aim is to raise €50,000 to establish a bank of musical instruments which will be made available exclusively to older people wishing to embark on a course of instrumental lessons.