From universities to primary schools, I have had the pleasure of teaching in an especially diverse range of settings. This page gives an overview of some of the topics I have covered and ends with a detailed CV-style timeline. Click on the hyperlinked text to see a news post about the topic.
I have the distinction of supervising University of Cambridge undergraduate students in two separate departments: the Faculty of Music (‘Music Analysis’) and at the Faculty of Education (‘Critical Debates in Education’). At the same time, I teach traditional Irish flute and tin whistle lessons in a family-setting at the Cambridge branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann and help children learn about their local history through fun creative songs with the innovative media company History Works.
Shortly after beginning my PhD at Cambridge, I established Homerton Jazz at Homerton College, a non-academic department comprised of a 21-piece jazz orchestra (HoJO), a weekly performance night (Jazz in the Bar) and large-scale themed events that enabled the college’s musicians to develop their own bands/ensembles and get experience performing with local professional jazz musicians. Homerton Jazz quickly doubled the amount of students participating in regular music events at the college. I stepped down from being the director in late 2017 to finish my PhD thesis and was awarded The Barton Prize for being “the graduate student that has contributed most to college life”. Before leaving, I worked with the participants to build a firm management structure so that Homerton Jazz will continue to grow as an entirely student-managed organisation after I have left the college.
PhD, University of Cambridge, 2018
Dissertation: “Improvisation in Graded Music Examinations: Assessment practices and perceptions”.
BSc Psychology, Open University, UK, 2012
MA Traditional Irish Music Performance, Univ. of Limerick, Ireland, 2005
BM Contemporary Writing & Production, Berklee College of Music, Boston, USA, 2000
Areas of Interest & Expertise
- Music improvisation.
- Jazz studies including performance, composition, arranging and theory.
- Socio-cultural & phenomenological framed research.
- Music for children, particularly involving technology.
- Traditional Irish music & similar folk styles.
My lecturing style is primarily influenced by my time at The Berklee College of Music. Berklee’s motto, ‘Esse quam videri‘ (to be rather than to seem) has come to have more meaning to me as I have entered into the field of academia. I have met many lecturers of music that have never been out of academia so they have never been a professional performer or teacher and unknowingly fail to prepare their students for the real world. It is important to me to be a practicing musician, rather than to seem like one.
I am a proud keeper-of-the-flame of the Berklee Arranging department and love to pass on the wealth of information that I learned from ‘the old cats’ while I was there as well as the new things I have learned from experience along the way. My 3rd-level teaching experience includes:
- University of Cambridge: I currently supervise undergraduates in the Faculty of Music for the ‘Music Analysis’ courses and also the core ‘Critical Debates’ module offered at the Faculty of Education.
- Irish World Academy: I developed and taught modules on improvisation and jazz history, as well as lecturing for an elective on traditional Irish music for visiting North American and ERASMUS students.
- University of Limerick: I presented lectures in traditional Irish music and accompanying flute & tin whistle workshops to ‘junior year abroad’ students.
Instrumental Music Teaching Experience
From 2004-2014, I taught weekly instrumental music classes in Ireland (wooden & silver flute, bari & alto sax, clarinet & guitar). Most of my teaching practice was based in schools focusing on instrumental music tuition including The Croagh School of Music (Limerick), The Irish Harp Centre (Limerick) and The Academy of Music (Tullamore). Details for the classes and ensembles that I initiated are provided in the CV at the bottom of the page. In brief:
- Graded music examinations: I have prepared hundreds of students for instrumental exams (TCL, ABRSM, LCM, SCT, & RIAM) in many genres (jazz, classical, rock & folk) on multiple instruments (flutes, saxophones, guitar); both Performance and Theory exams.
- National exams: I prepared hundreds of students for Irish Leaving & Junior Certificates (i.e. equivalent to the UK A-level & GCSE music).
- Master classes: I have taught Irish flute and tin whistle workshops at adult workshops such as the week-long OAIM Summer Flute Retreat in County Clare, Ireland.
Experience with Young Learners
- History Works: Having many years of experience teaching young learners, I have recently been collaborating with the very exciting History Works; an innovative media production company that teaches children about their local history through very fun songs and music making.
- Irish Chamber Orchestra’s Sing Out with Strings: In my two years with The Irish Chamber Orchestra, I arranged and participated in events that enabled members of the orchestra to visit primary schools in disadvantaged areas and make music with the students.
- Primary school classes: I was granted funding from County Limerick Ireland to bring separate rural schools together to build mutually beneficial combined music programmes. I spent three years implementing music classes at two neighbouring schools. This involved teaching entire classes to play instruments, sing, improvise and perform short concerts as well as undergo some group performance exams.
CV: Music Educator Experience
Supervisor at the University of Cambridge, UK 2017-current
- Supervising undergraduates in Music Analysis courses at Clare College and Critical Debates in Education for the Faculty of Education.
- I established Homerton Jazz, which grew in less than three years to become Cambridge University’s most-active college jazz programme.
Lectured at Irish World Academy, Limerick, Ireland 2012-2014
- Developed and taught modules on improvisation and jazz history, as well as lecturing for an elective on traditional Irish music for visiting North American students. As part of the courses, I helped students from traditional Irish music backgrounds incorporate practical jazz improvisation skills into their own music making.
Vice Principal & Head of Woodwind: The Irish Harp College 2007- 2014
- Originally hired to teach individual and group lessons on woodwinds & guitar to students with vastly different aims, interests and skill levels. Prepared hundreds of students for graded and national music examinations (e.g. Irish Junior/Leaving Certificates, ABRSM, LCM, SCT, RIAM).
- Established and maintained youth ensembles whose diverse repertoires expanded to include popular, jazz, classical and traditional Irish music.
- Promoted to Head of Woodwind and then Vice Principal, where I worked with the college principal in overseeing the staff, students and curriculum as well as organising concerts.
- Performed throughout Europe with the school’s resident ensemble, The Irish Harp Orchestra.
Music Teacher: Croagh School of Music, West Limerick 2007- 2014
- Provided jazz, classical and traditional Irish instrumental lessons to hundreds of students ranging greatly in ability and age.
- Established and arranged music for weekly ensembles enabling students taking private lessons to make music with others.
- Prepared hundreds of students for graded performance and theory exams.
Visiting teacher: St Nicholas’ & St. Joseph’s Primary Schools 2006-2009
- Visiting music teacher in two rural Irish primary schools. I introduced composition and participation with music technology to the school.
- Instigated a partnership with the local drama teacher to co-ordinate complimentary music & drama lessons that targeted specific shared outcomes.
Lecturer: Academy of Music, Tullamore, Ireland 2007- 2009
- As part of the original staff at a new school, I developed and presented Harmony & Music History modules and a Music Appreciation course for adults.
- Established and maintained the school’s first chamber ensemble, a classical guitar quartet.
Performer, outreach & organiser: Irish Chamber Orchestra 2005-2007
- Performed as a flautist in Ireland’s premier chamber orchestra.
- While with the orchestra, I helped implement and oversee the Sing Out with Strings education programme that enabled members of the orchestra to participate in local disadvantaged primary schools. This programme has continued to grow and is now a major part of the orchestra.
- Working with the orchestra’s Marketing and Fundraising departments, I helped co-ordinate PR campaigns (radio, newspaper & online adverts).
- Being good with details and pressure, I assisted with concert logistics including last-minute changes, organising transportation and mediating between performers exhibiting strong creative differences.
Administrator and Tutor: The University of Limerick 2005- 2007
- Assistant to the head of the MA in Traditional Music Performance. Duties included organising the regular Lunchtime Concert Series (scheduling, budgeting, & audio recording).
- My experience led to being chosen to organise the Sionna Music Festival for two years in a row as well as a national tour of the 21 department musicians.
- Taught traditional Irish traditional flute and whistle playing to Bachelor of Music students.