Last week I promised you a good news story about a very dedicated and talented group of people at the newly expanded Waterford Academy of Music, Art and Drama which is located just out the Dunmore Road at Passage Cross. It’s a wonderful story of talent and creativity driven by an infectious enthusiasm and commitment for what they do. Their collective aim is to share their skills and love of the performance arts across a wide range of courses and levels and indeed ages. I was impressed to learn that there are courses for children as young as a few months. After that the sky is the limit. So let’s learn more about the academy, where it comes from and it’s going in terms of their motivational philosophy that underpins how they go about their business.
The Academy of Music Arts is run by Trevor Darmody and his wife Denise. It had its genesis as a guitar school under the name Flying Fingers in 2003. Within a few years it had established itself as the number one guitar school in Waterford. In the following years, Flying Fingers had grown considerably, branching out in to many other musical instruments. This growth culminated in a re-location to new, purpose-built premises in 2009, located at Passage Cross on the main intersection of the Dunmore East / Passage East / Waterford City Road, only minutes from Waterford city centre. Warmly welcomed by all the students, the new premises offered the most technologically advanced facilities for music training in Ireland’s south east. In 2010, with the introduction of the dramatic arts to the school’s prospectus, Flying Fingers was renamed in order to more accurately reflect the service that it offered to Waterford and the South East. It was officially christened the Waterford Academy of Music & Arts in June 2010.
At the Art of Things
From chatting to Trevor, Denise and other staff it is obvious that at the core of their approach they take a fun and inspiring approach to music and drama education and have a lively and inclusive atmosphere which instils a love and passion for the arts. To do this, most of their courses for children are group based, which is an environment that children thrive in the most, helping to motivate each other as well as enjoy it as a social occasion. To ensure that each child progresses consistently along with the class they themselves as well as their strong team of talented tutors strongly feel that the parent has an important role to play in what they do, and so are very much involved in the process from the word go. The school caters for two types of students:
1) The student who wants to learn to play an instrument/sing/dance/act for its own very worthwhile recreational value. In fact, most parents send their children to the school to help round them out as people during their up-bringing, yet most achieve a pleasing competence that can provide an enjoyable pleasure that can last a lifetime.
2) The student who wants to take it all the way! Their very informative and detailed prospectus spells out these approaches in clear terms – I quote:
“With these two types of students in mind, graded examinations are an option in our Academy, not a rule. In fact, much of our approach to teaching beginners does not follow traditional methods. Indeed this varies on what course we are talking about, but in general we take the approach that balances the student’s happiness with what produces the most effective results. In some cases, the path of graded examinations is not what produces the best results, and so instead we may follow other methods, such as the Suzuki method, or a proprietary method.”
Of course, you are more than welcome to discuss all these issues prior to enrolment. Throughout a students stay at the academy, they will have the opportunity to attend and perform in motivational low pressure Open Mic nights, small recitals and plays, travel on school trips to see the professionals performing, and even perform at their own end-of-year showcase at the Forum and the Theatre Royal. Well, all that sounds great to me, and shows the team out here are well tuned-in to their students needs.
So Much More
I would encourage readers to go to their website www.waterfordacademy.ie which is brimful of information- an orchestra of info- to truly give you an idea of how wide ranging and comprehensive their programmes are which are supported by the best of purpose-built facilities housed in a modern bright building. The programmes are taught by a very talented team of about twenty very experienced tutors. Their varied music and arts programmes include photography, art, drama, rhythm/drumming, guitar, piano (practical and traditional), voice, choral, rock bands, bass, violin, trumpet, ukulele and recording engineering. Indeed their recording studio is truly state of the art, which has impressed the many bands who have availed of it, including Brass &Co. In conclusion, what really impressed me was their innovative programme for Kindermusik – its programmes range form newborn to 7 years! And there are programmes for adults too –singing, dancing/drama and indeed art I whatever your age. Students have been flocking to this new and exciting Academy in great numbers – doubling their enrolment since last year already such is the excellent vibe about the place – there are still some vacancies on some programmes and generally speaking, sounds like a good idea to get your name in to secure a place.
I was most impressed on visiting the Academy and applaud Trevor and Denise for what they have created here by dint of their own resources, determination and talent. I wish them continued success. Ireland and Waterford needs positive initiatives like this. Bravo!
I dedicate the column today about music and the arts to Brian Harty – a very talented musician who died recently who hailed from nearby Ballinakina. Ar Dheis De, go raibh se.)