'Take a Breath' launches in Irish schools

'Take a Breath' launches in Irish schools
Music Network presents a music and wellbeing programme for school children devised by classical saxophonist Amy Dickson.

Twice nominated for a Grammy™ award, British-Australian Amy Dickson has been acknowledged by BBC Music Magazine as one of the world’s six best classical saxophonists ever. Recognised for her remarkable, distinctive tone and exceptional musicality, she made history by becoming the first saxophonist to win a Classic BRIT Award for Breakthrough Artist of the Year, and in 2016 was named the UK’s Young Australian of the Year.

Alongside her stellar performance career, Amy Dickson has also developed ‘Take a Breath’, a programme she has designed to teach relaxed breathing techniques, which stem from her experience as a saxophonist, to primary school-aged children. The children who participate in the programme are taught how to use these techniques to help them combat and build resilience to stress and anxiety throughout their lives.

"Generally when babies are born, they have a pretty good respiratory mechanism – they use their diaphragm. As they get older, often as the result of physical and emotional trauma, their breathing patterns shift subconsciously. Through the ‘Take a Breath’ programme we make children aware of their breathing and also of this physiological shift. We teach them how and when to use good, relaxed breathing in every-day life, especially as a tool to help themselves in times of stress and anxiety. During the sessions I am also able to introduce them to classical music. It is incredible to watch the way they delight in both the breathing exercises and the music." Amy Dickson

Amy has taught ‘Take A Breath’ in primary schools throughout the UK, Australia and Asia and has been encouraged by the overwhelming support she received for the scheme from teachers and pupils alike. Music Network is now delighted to bring an extended version of the ‘Take a Breath’ programme, which Amy has designed specifically for us, to Ireland for the first time.

Starting this term, Amy will be bringing her ‘Take a Breath’ technique to 4th class children in 14 primary schools across Ireland via Zoom. In addition to learning to manage anxiety and stress through Amy’s special breathing technique, the children will learn about the instruments and repertoire that Amy will perform alongside violinist Adam Barnett-Hart and Simon Mulligan on a Music Network concert tour of Ireland, scheduled to take place in March 2022. After a year of getting to know Amy through monthly Zoom workshops, the participating children will also have the chance to hear her perform live in concert in their local venues during the tour.

By the end of the project, the goal is that the children will become ambassadors for ‘Take a Breath’ in their own schools, passing on their knowledge to the younger classes.

Schools participating in ‘Take a Breath’ 2021-2022

St Enda’s School, Whitefriar Street
St Louis Senior Primary School, Rathmines
Dún Laoghaire – Rathdown (in partnership with Music Generation DLR)
Holy Family National School, Dunedin
Dominican Primary School, Dún Laoghaire
St John's National School, Ballybrack
Sligo (in partnership with Music Generation Sligo)
St John's National School, Sligo
Our Lady of Mercy Primary School, Sligo
Kerry (in partnership with Music Generation Kerry)
CBS Tralee
Presentation Primary School
Newtown School
Clifden (in partnership with Clifden Arts Festival)
Scoil Mhuire, Clifden
Claddaghduff National School