Monday, 10 April 2017 09:05

The Network on YouTube

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The RIAM Teaching and Learning Network YouTube channel hit 100,000 views today! We are very excited, mainly because we have only been actively using the channel since our new website launched last June. Not bad for a mere nine months!

The RIAM Teaching and Learning Network YouTube channel supports our website and our social media channels, as a way of providing videos that we hope will make preparing for exams or learning a musical instrument just a little bit easier! We  are particularly delighted to have videos of all the 2017 piano pieces form Elementary to Grade V available on the channel. So if you have not already subscribed to the channel, don't forget to subscribe now, so you never miss a video!

Below is a selection of our favourite videos. Thank you for watching and we hope that you will continue to find the channel useful. And remember, if you have a suggestion for a video you would like to see, just let us know! 


Grade 1 Mock Exam with Lorna Horan
Ode to Joy for the Flute with William Dowdall
The 2017 Piano Albums Playlist
'Jesu, der du meine Seele' BWV 78 by J.S. Bach Playlist
'Caro Mio Ben' by Giordani, performed by Imelda Drumm



Friday, 03 February 2017 14:36

Coaching and Music Teaching

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In February 2017 Paul Roe will run a one-day workshop on Coaching in the RIAM. Last week The Department of Education launched a new initiative for coaching for school leaders. Paul will be coaching a range of school principals over the next couple of years for the Centre for School Leadership CSL []. We are delighted to have Paul with us for a workshop on this area on the 26 February 2017.

For more information see: RIAM Tickets


How coaching can make your life more rewarding and fulfilling

For some years now I have been working as a professional coach, along with my teaching and performing career as a clarinettist. People often ask me ‘what is coaching,’ as it is such a ubiquitous term. Most of us have heard about sports coaching, chamber music coaching, and life coaching, to name but a few and yet we have very little idea of what it means to be coached or be a coach. Hopefully this short article may shed some light on this area.

The first thing to say is, there are as many different styles of coaching as there are styles and approaches to teaching or playing the piano. Indeed some forms of coaching that are practiced are quite contradictory. One form of coaching may be quite directive, whilst another will be completely facilitative. That said, there are some clear differences between what is generally understood as coaching and other forms of human interaction. I have various definitions I use in relation to coaching depending on the context. For now I will offer this phrase on the role of a coach…a coach serves the learning, growth and change of another-this requires mindfulness on the part of the coach. Coaching fundamentally is about change. As human beings we are hard-wired for growth and change throughout our lives.

Often people involved in coaching refer to setting and achieving goals and whilst this can be a part of coaching it is by no means the whole story. Coaching is a developmental process where we gain, amongst other things, understanding through improving our self-awareness. Awareness precedes clarity and clarity precedes change and choice. Ultimately we learn to be self-generative, make better choices and are more successful.  In fact when I work with clients, goals evolve and emerge out of the work we do together, it is an organic process. Here is a very short list of fundamental approaches one finds in coaching:

  • Holding conversations
  • Eliciting discussion
  • Providing feedback
  • Asking for options
  • Asking questions
  • Working with
  • Making suggestions
  • Exploring together
  • Being curious together

Contrast this with the following (again brief list), which would not be considered coaching:

  • Invoking authority
  • Assessing
  • Outlining a strategy to follow
  • Grading a test
  • Lecturing
  • Disciplining
  • Telling
  • Prescribing
  • Making expert diagnosis

Perhaps having read these lists you may find that you as a teacher favour a coaching or non-coaching approach. That is not to say, one is better than the other-it is simply to make some clear distinctions. There are many teachers who use the best of coaching methodology in their teaching and many coaches who also have significant pedagogical competencies. Coaching is a highly skilled and nuanced capacity that can take many years to refine, if one wants to work as a professional coach. That said, one could introduce more of a coaching approach to the various relationships we have, both professional and personal and in doing so find our interactions are more rewarding in a variety of ways. When we let go of our expert mode and relate more fundamentally to people many of the communication difficulties that stifle creativity and growth disappear. There is no better way to improve what it is we do by working with an empathic and insightful coach. We get to see ourselves in a whole new light, in an environment that is nourishing, supportive and transformative. It is worth bearing in mind, any personal growth we gain will in turn assist those we work with and represents a positive model of life long learning. Shunryu Suzuki encourages us to cultivate a beginner’s mind from which point we can seek to learn something new. This is the antithesis of the expert mind where we can hypnotise ourselves into believing we have all the answers. 

Coaching is a role fundamentally dedicated to the service of others and in order to earn the right to coach, one needs to engage in a very meaningful way with ones own growth, learning and change. It is a very fulfilling and personally enlightening journey. I welcome any queries and thoughts. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me if I can should you wish to find out more.

 -Paul Roe


Thursday, 12 January 2017 10:26

Appreciating Music RIAM style

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Appreciating Music RIAM style
I gave my first music appreciation classes 15 years ago, in 2002. The series was called ‘Bravo: An appreciation of music through the ages’. I was in the RIAM only a year or two and was the principal music history teacher, so was the obvious choice. Ambitiously, I decided to tell the entire history of music from 400 BC to 2002 in 10 weeks, (though I must admit the first week covered about 2,000 years in one go!)
I prepared assiduously, fretted over keeping to time, accosted students in the corridors to give live performances (a must for us) and generally wound myself up nicely.
I remember the nerves fled in the face of the nicest group of appreciators I could possibly have found. My fellow journey-men and women were all music lovers. They were rooting for me and the young performers and we had a BALL! My highlight of those first talks must be Tara Erraught (then an Access student) singing an Irish traditional song. I remember when she finished singing and left to go to class we just knew as a group that she would make it.
15 years on and I am reprising ‘Bravo: an appreciation of music through the ages’ but with some notable changes. This time I will tackle the history of music from 400BC to 2017 in 8 weeks (yes!). We will follow the 10am talk with a tea and coffee break, and then on to a full student/staff concert at 11am. Tara was (and is) a wonder, but we have more young Tara’s to celebrate. That is music education for you.
Adding to the excitement, we will do our first ever Facebook livestream, using the lectures as a trial. We hope that over time, the RIAM can use technology to reach further and further outside our doors and offer musicians and lovers of music an insight into what makes us tick in the lovely world of music. Some of the stalwarts who were with me in 2002 have been in touch and now have reduced mobility, so I hope they might access the talks in this new way.
The Bravo Lectures are available on Facebook livestream from 10am to 10.50am event Friday from 13th January for 8 weeks.
Coffee concerts at 11am are available live only at
To join us in Westland Row at the talks and concerts for the course, please sign up here:
Friday, 02 December 2016 10:52

The View from the Director's Office #5

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Our High Achievers

This year we are delighted to have Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Heather Humphreys as guest of honour at the RIAM High Achievers Gala concert in December.  The journey from the examination room to our Gala event is a long one, and it represents real achievement every step of the way.

 *Offer Extended until Saturday, 26 November 2016!*
In May of 2016 we were delighted to meet representatives from Meludia at the RIAM. They kindly travelled over from France to give us a demonstration of their wonderful new programme for aural training, available at . We have been trying the programme ourselves over the past few months and think it is a really valuable and important resource that makes aural training fun for all involved. In the RIAM, we are currently trialling the programme with our Third Level Music Students, in the hopes that it might become a regular part of their undergraduate studies. 
Friday, 11 November 2016 13:50

The View from the Director's Office #4

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 In praise of Alumni
We estimated recently that (conservatively) 10,000 professional musicians have been trained in the RIAM since its foundation.This is a big number, but it is small compared to the 1,000,000 who have taken our exams or studied with us part-time over the years. Not everyone goes in to the profession, after all.
RIAM's alumni, (and I mean those who took our professional degrees), are a diverse bunch. Some are performing in orchestras and  working as opera singers which is what one used to regard as the  'traditional' definition of success in the conservatoire world. Nowadays there are more opportunities for a professional life in music than the platform. For instance other alumni work in music administration or as composers; more again are teachers or broadcasters and some have jobs which are nothing to do with music at all.
This week I want to pick out one particular alumnus, Bachelor Class of 2004 and oboist Jessica Harris, who started with us and then went on to study music therapy in London. We have tempted her back to the RIAM to pilot music therapy with us, working with young people for whom the discovery of music will mean so much. Her story is fascinating, and can be heard here.
Tuesday, 18 October 2016 11:19

RIAM Library Notes #5

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September is a busy month here in the RIAM Library as the new academic year kicks off and lots of new students arrive. Then, suddenly, it’s October (how did that happen?) and I finally have time to draw breath and tell you about some interesting resources.

Thursday, 06 October 2016 14:37

The View from the Driector's Office #3

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In this series of blogs RIAM Director, Deborah Kelleher, reflects on aspects of RIAM life (and sometimes life outside the Academy too)

The Working Musician

Recently we undertook some market research in the RIAM about our third level programmes. Much of what came back was good to hear, but one thing stuck out: the importance our students place on getting work after the RIAM – how will they live? What will they work at? In the past as a conservatoire we might have considered very narrow pathways in music performance as markers of ‘success’: the opera house, the orchestra, the recital stage. The reality is that this definition of success only came about in the 19th century, as Liszt, Chopin and Paginnini glamourised the composer/performer (and then the performer) in the audience’s hearts and minds.

The fact is that composers like Bach, Haydn or Clementi had varied careers that involved composition, performance, teaching and some administration (in Bach’s case, recording the births, marriages and deaths in the Church). Musicians nowadays tend to have similar portfolio careers in which performing, teaching and some additional professional work make up their busy lives.

So this year RIAM’s third level students will attend seminars called ‘The Working Musician’ (a positive start!), which will feature the study of pedagogy, experience of community music, Music therapy, new music collaboration and self-directed projects. My hope is that they will have practical skills to add to their musical ones to thrive as confident and adaptable music professionals when they leave us.

Monday, 26 September 2016 15:24

Call for Syllabi Suggestions

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Attention Teachers:

Call for Suggestions from Teachers of Keyboard, Strings, Brass, Wind, Percussion, Voice, Speech & Drama. We are in the process of working on the 2019-2022 syllabi and would love to include you. If there is anything you would like to see in the new syllabi or if there is something that you would like to bring to our attention, then please send your suggestions for consideration to Majella Boland by email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by next Monday 3 October 2016. Please remember to include the instrument, and additional information where appropriate i.e. grade, scales, pieces etc. 
Tuesday, 20 September 2016 14:55

The View from the Director's Office #2

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In this series of blogs, RIAM Director, Deborah Kelleher, reflects on aspects of RIAM life (and sometimes life outside the Academy too)

Historically Informed Performance

The RIAM will shortly launch Ireland’s first Historical Performance Department, with specialist teachers in Baroque stringed and keyboard instruments. Historically informed performance uses knowledge of the aesthetic criteria of the period in which the music was conceived, to re-create the music as close to how it would have sounded at the time it was first performed. Such music is usually played on instruments corresponding to the period of the piece being played, and practitioners pore over manuscripts, treatises and notes from instrument makers of the time to find the clues as to how this music really sounded.

Why do we wish to do this? There are many reasons. Firstly, it is an intriguing puzzle to find such musical clues and that appeals to the inner detective in many. Secondly, it seems time and again that the authentic sound comes across better than a more generalised performance. For instance, certain Baroque pieces simply cannot be performed too slowly, because Baroque bows from that time were shorter and couldn’t sustain a slow phrase. Over-pedalling a Bach keyboard piece makes it muddy, and we know that the instrument on which it was first performed (the harpsichord) had no sustain pedals at all.

However, do we need to play Bach as if Chopin was never born? Would Chopin himself not have jumped for joy if he could have written for the modern concert grand? Can we really separate our 21st century selves from the performance of this older music? Certain performers, particularly in the mid-20th century had scant time for this historical performance ‘craze’. And some performances, though inauthentic, can still impress.

If you wish to hear the contrast between so-called authentic and inauthentic performances I invite you to check out the Bach B Minor Mass with two special recordings. Herbert von Karajan luxuriated in a full symphony orchestra and a choir of hundreds in his recording, which evoked a kind of fearful wonder at the piece’s greatness. Andrew Parrott recreated Bach’s setting of two voices per part for a sparser texture, in a brisker tempo (those bows!)  Which do you prefer?

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