Catch Up with Making Music with The Marble Collective: the Kerry Teaching Residency

Catch Up with Making Music with The Marble Collective: the Kerry Teaching Residency
Making Music with The Marble Collective kicked off in March with 15 Kerry locals returning to their love of music!

Participants are currently receiving tuition on recorders, guitar and violin from members of The Marble Collective, which features renowned musicians Laoise O’Brien, Michael O’Toole and Maria Ryan. The tuition programme offers participants the opportunity to explore music that spans several centuries, from the Renaissance and classical eras to popular folk tunes.

Let's hear from the participants on how they are getting on so far:

The Marble Collective: Laoise O’Brien (recorders), Michael O’Toole (guitar) and Maria Ryan (violin).
"To our delight both my sister and I were accepted and it is hard to describe how much fun this course has brought us." Finola, violin

"I am so enjoying my music classes. I joined the group because I had a rudimentary knowledge of playing the violin and thought this was great opportunity to maybe improve my playing. I am blessed with a lovely tutor Maria who doesn’t overload and who is so upbeat and patient. I value and appreciate this opportunity more than I can say. Sincere thanks to all.

– Eileen, violin

"I don’t feel the class going and it’s been a great eye opener to the classical world of music." Tom, violin

"I learnt the piano as a child. I remember when I decided to give up, my late Mum told me I would regret it. She was right! However, when I retired from teaching, I promised myself I would pursue the many hobbies/ activities I had shelved. Music was one of these... I always love listening to music, singing along, enjoying the rhythm and beat and wishing I could play an instrument.

I was so delighted to be successful. But that delight is nothing compared to how I feel since starting. It is an amazing experience and journey. I am enjoying myself so much that practising is a pleasure, something I want to do for myself, to get as good as I can during the duration of this initiative. A far cry from when I was a child and my Mum making me go in and practice! I opted for the guitar. Little did I know this would be the classical guitar!

Michael O’Toole, my tutor, is fantastic. His enthusiasm and love of music and the classical guitar is infectious. His ability to play is a pleasure to listen to. As the saying goes, he can truly make that instrument talk! His encouragement and patience for my attempts is inspiring. I am so enjoying learning the different notes, strings and fingering for the various pieces he is preparing with us. Better still, I am getting familiar again with reading music which had been filed somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind! I just love being involved in this initiative. One of the pieces we are working on is Eleanor Rigby, by The Beatles, and guess what? I have also got back to listening to The Beatles again!! Win Win!

I am really looking forward to our group and ensemble sessions, which are starting this weekend. It should be interesting and another experience for me in this journey. A journey I am so grateful I got the opportunity to be on. Thank you to everyone for this opportunity, especially Michael, who has awoken the belief in myself that I can do this, that I can read music and play an instrument, I can tune a guitar and recognise the sounds of the various strings/ notes and that it is never too late to engage in new opportunities and experiences.

Thank you."

- Lucille, guitar

"The residency is going well; it’s a great idea to encourage people to try and play again the musical instruments they spent time practicing as teenagers.

I’m enjoying the classes, and I’m learning so much. Laoise is an excellent teacher, and she has introduced me to different styles and techniques for playing the recorder. I haven’t played recorders for twenty-five years, and I never played in an ensemble before, so the last few weeks have been challenging but enjoyable."

– Julie, recorder

"Maria is such a supportive and encouraging teacher. She keeps the light of enthusiasm burning for me. Really appreciate this opportunity." - Clotilde, violin

"I am with the guitarists’ group, under the tutelage of Dr Michael O Toole. He modestly neglects to use his full title, but he deserves to be acknowledged generously and lauded loudly.

My background: self-taught in fits and bursts: an under-talented, unqualified teacher and an under-diligent student!

Outcome: love the instrument, love the music, have an ear, and have embedded all the bad habits I either taught myself, or failed to recognise.

Michael is truly brilliant, as a teacher, mentor, musician and improviser. Improvisation does not only refer to the music: with the talent pool he faced, Michael improvised in how he taught, how he apportioned parts, how he navigated the various levels of ability and integrated a motley crew into a focussed group wedded to a common goal.

So we have launched ourselves in preparation for our final Opus:- performing with the violins and the recorders! We will astound ourselves by going from McCartney to Mozart, via a 16th Century Irish composer, because there isn't the remotest chance we thought we could, when we first assembled.

The initiative that made the course available is fabulous. The quality of tuition, in the persons of Laoise , Marie and Michael is infinitely superior than we would have got ( or deserved ) privately. Personally, I have enjoyed the classes and tuition immensely, benefitted hugely, and I am re-energised to stick with it now, and develop the talent; I have much more talent and ability now than I had of either, before I had the good fortune to participate.

Many thanks to the crew and Máire Logue in Listowel for their dedication , and for setting the tone that created such a positive , constructive and creative atmosphere and dynamic. Míle buíochas, go n-eirí an geal libhse go léir."

Michael, guitar

Making Music with The Marble Collective: the Kerry Teaching Residency is presented by Music Network and St John’s Theatre & Arts Centre, Listowel. Music Network is funded by the Arts Council of Ireland. St John's Theatre & Arts Centre is funded by Kerry County Council and the Arts Council of Ireland.