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Music at Work Programme

Waltons New School of Music

Based on the the New School’s popular group courses for beginners, Music at Work is a unique programme that provides convenient and affordable music courses in Dublin-area workplaces. We have extensive experience running group music courses for adults, both inside and outside the New School, and we have provided group tuition to well over 20,000 adult learners since the school’s founding in 1994.

Our Courses

Introduction to Bodhrán

This simple wood and goatskin drum, hit with a wooden stick, is the heartbeat of Irish music, and there’s nothing that quickens the pulse quite like the beat of the bodhrán! In this course the main rhythms of traditional music – reels and jigs – are covered, and classes move on to polkas, hornpipes, slip jigs, etc. When they’ve mastered playing ‘straight’ in these metres, they can take on contemporary playing styles which may integrate influences from rock, funk, Latin rhythms, etc. and are encouraged to find a style of their own.


Participants will need their own bodhráns (ideally 18-inch) to bring to class and practice at home.

Company Choir

A perfect opportunity to bring employees together to literally ‘sing from the same hymn sheet’. A company choir will boost morale, foster teamwork and group spirit and help create a network for employees within an otherwise large workplace. The choir can work on songs and styles ranging from classical to jazz and gospel to pop. Central to all of this is learning how to sing these songs in harmony – from simple two-part harmonies to more complex material. The choir can be made up of any combination of male and female voices.


A digital or acoustic piano is required for this course.

Introduction to Irish Fiddle

This course introduces beginners to the basics of playing this beautiful, subtle and demanding instrument – holding, bowing, fingering, etc. – and guides them through the main forms of traditional music (jigs, reels, hornpipes, airs, etc.), including some of their many variations. Regional and individual playing styles will also be covered, giving students an important first source of repertoire. By the end of the course participants will be able to play a number of great traditional tunes!

Instruments & Equipment

At least one music stand for every two participants is required for this course. Participants will also need fiddles (violins) with shoulder rests to bring to class and practice at home.

Introduction to Singing

This popular course is designed to take some of the mystery out of singing, improve your confidence in singing before an audience and introduce you to the fundamentals of voice training. You’ll observe and participate in basic singing tuition, learn how to choose songs that suit you and your voice, and begin to explore the technical side of singing, discovering the application and use of Focus and Support. But most of all you will learn – in a relaxed and supportive environment – to get up in front of others and sing!


A digital or acoustic piano is required for this course.

Introduction to Songwriting

Whether participants are new to songwriting and would like to take their music beyond the shower, or they have already written songs but would like to have a better grounding in the basics, this course will help them to develop their creative ideas – in any musical style – and turn them into finished songs. Classes are intended to be instructive, encouraging and collaborative, and activities include:

  • Exercises to break ‘writer’s block’ and get the songwriting juices flowing.
  • Examining great songs, new and old, and what makes them work.
  • Collaborating and providing feedback for peers in a constructive and supportive way.
  • Lyric writing. What makes a great first line? What makes a great chorus? (The verses of the song are like climbing up a mountain. The chorus is the view from the top. When you get to the top, the view better be worth the climb!)
  • Melody writing. A ‘singable’ melody is much more memorable. A great ‘hook’ is that brief, irresistible bit of music that the listener will remember even after hearing your song only once.
  • Finding a groove. How to create a rhythmic pulse that will make your music stand out.

Past musical experience and/or ability to read music are not necessary to participate.


Although no instruments or equipment are required for this course, participants who play guitar are encouraged to bring their instruments to the class.

Introduction to Tin Whistle

A simple tube of metal with six finger-holes, the whistle has an expressive range that can encompass everything from the speed and excitement of dance music to the haunting and emotionally-charged expression of slow airs. This course teaches all the basics of whistle-playing, covering such aspects as tonguing, vibrato and slurring, and including some ornamentation and variation. Participants will concentrate on slow airs, jigs and polkas, but other forms may be touched on as well. By the end of the course participants will be able to play a number of great traditional tunes!


Participants will need their own tin whistles (key of D) to bring to class and practice at home.

Introduction to Ukulele

Today the ukulele is one of the most popular instruments in the world – and with good reason. It is accessible, rewarding and beautifully versatile. This course is the ideal way to kick start participants’ uke playing. Students will learn fundamental techniques, chords, strumming patterns and fingerstyle in a fun and supportive group setting. Everything is taught through popular music (pop, rock and folk), and by the end of the course participants will not only have the necessary skills to play the songs they love, they will have already started doing so!

Instruments & Equipment

Participants will need concert or soprano ukuleles to bring to class and practice at home. And at least one music stand for every two participants is required.

Introduction to Violin

Let’s start by getting rid of the myth: if you want to play the violin you don’t have to start at an early age. True, if you want to be the next Maxim Vengerov, Anne-Sophie Mutter or Nigel Kennedy it helps if you begin quite young, but at the New School we believe that students at any age can learn to play this magnificent instrument – and play it well. This course is designed especially for the adult beginner and classes, though relaxed and enjoyable, are designed to build skills methodically and thoroughly.

Instruments & Equipment

At least one music stand for every two participants is required for this course. Participants will also need violins with shoulder rests to bring to class and practice at home.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Music at Work?

The enormous benefits of music education for children have been widely researched, but the benefits for adults are just beginning to be understood. Now more and more forward-thinking companies are working with musicians to solve problems, enhance performance and morale, and help staff with their professional and personal development.

Music at Work courses provide an excellent means to:

  • Tap hidden potential and creativity
  • Promote communication and listening skills
  • Encourage support and trust
  • Reduce workplace stress
  • Improve interaction both among colleagues and between junior and senior staff

Absolutely no previous musical experience is required!

‘RMM [recreational music making] research has demonstrated a host of key benefits that precisely match ongoing workplace needs. From stress reduction and improvement of mood states to burnout and attrition reduction, RMM programs serve as accessible, affordable and sustainable human resources initiatives. An empowering strategy for unlocking innate potential through verbal and non-verbal expression, RMM opens doors for meaningful dialogues while fostering interpersonal respect and team-building. In this challenging era of rapidly escalating stress-related healthcare costs coupled with excessive employee burnout and turnover, RMM serves as a rational affordable empowering strategy for improving quality of life.’
– Dr. Barry Bittman, Neurologist, Recreational Music Making: A Human
Resources Perspective

‘Active music making can powerfully influence people’s thoughts and feelings, and it differs from passive music listening in several ways. First, music making expands mental abilities that are essential to good mental function, while music listening allows minds to wander. Second, active music making can help provide relief from daily stressors by directing focus and awareness of the whole person, and music based wellness exercises can provide practical ways to learn to manage stress. All of this can contribute to feeling better both emotionally and physically, and can lead to motivation to continue involvement. Though passive music listening provides some diversion from stressors, it cannot offer the success and the self‐esteem that can come from actually making music. This success leads to positive self‐regard and good self‐care that are essential to well‐being.’
– Karl T. Bruhn and Dr. Alicia Ann Claire,
Active Music Making and Wellness

‘Music in the workplace has increased efficiency, lifted spirits, and even bound society together. Music still does all of this, and it is one force that can help carry us forward into the future.’
– Gordon Marc le Roux, ‘Whistle While You Work’: A Historical Account of
Some Associations Among Music, Work, and Health

‘[T]he study of music offers us a wealth of “tools” that can have a profound effect on our performance in the workplace. Entrainment, keen sensitivity, and rhythm and flow all work in concert to enhance our work to the point where it no longer feels like work! The virtuoso performer makes it look easy, because it is easy!’
– Peggy Rostron, ‘Musicians’ Tools for the Workplace

‘Creativity isn’t the sole province of artists and musicians – it’s the ability to find better ways to make products or to find and fill needs that no one noticed existed.’
– Richard Florida, The Flight of the Creative Class: The New Global
Competition for Talent

‘Creativity is essential because it is at the heart of innovation, and innovation is a growth driver and, therefore, a business imperative. That is why, for several years, The McGraw-Hill Companies has been using arts-based learning as a training tool in several key leadership initiatives… the arts have served as a complementary vehicle to more traditional learning approaches. They have helped to change attitudes by letting employees confront their assumptions in a nontraditional and non-intimidating environment…. The results of using arts-based learning and training have been very positive for The McGraw-Hill Companies…. Arts-based training is part of an overall strategy and commitment of the corporation to help “surface” creativity.’
– Terry McGraw, Chairman and CEO, The McGraw Hill Companies,
in Journal of Business Strategy

‘The arts enrich communities and employees, and also stimulate the kind of intellectual curiosity our company needs to stay competitive.’
– Norma R. Augustine, Chairman and CEO, Martin Marietta Corporation

How does it work?

One of our teachers is assigned to your company or organisation for a brief residency (generally ten weeks long, but shorter or longer residencies are possible). The residency can, if desired, culminate in a performance for other company employees. Residencies can be one-off, they can continue for another period, or you can opt for a different instrument or subject for your next residency.

How much do your courses cost?

Course fees depend on length (number of weeks) and sometimes distance, if a lot of travel time is involved. (Modest additional travel costs apply to courses taking place outside Dublin.)

As an example, the fee for a ten-week course taking place in Dublin is €900. This amounts to €90 per person for 10-person instrumental, singing or songwriting courses with ten participants, or €30 per person for a thirty-strong Company Choir.

Course fees can be paid by the company, by employees, or by contributions from both.

Who teaches the courses?

Music at Work teachers, all part of the New School’s regular teaching faculty, have been carefully selected for their ability to work with and inspire adult learners, as well as their experience with group music tuition.

When do the courses take place?

Our courses generally take place during business hours (at lunchtime, for example) but can also take place after work.

What facilities and equipment are needed?

Music at Work courses require a staff room or canteen large enough to accommodate the class, a CD player and whiteboard or flipchart with marker. For the bodhrán, guitar, Irish fiddle, tin whistle and violin courses, participants will need to bring their own instruments to the classes, and a music stand will be required for every two participants in the guitar, Irish fiddle and violin courses. For the Company Choir and singing courses, an acoustic or digital piano is required. We are happy to advise you about these.

How can we find out more or book a course?

If you are interested in our Music at Work programme for your company or organisation, please complete a Music at Work Programme Booking • Enquiry Form, and we’ll get in touch. A booking deposit of €50 is required to confirm a course. (The deposit is refundable if we are unable to schedule the course on a mutually agreeable day and time.) The balance of fees for the course and instruments/equipment (if applicable) is due before the course begins. Once the course day, time and start date are confirmed, we can provide you with photocopiable pdf flyers about the course in order to attract participants.

Your Feedback

Please use this brief form to give us your feedback about Music at Work.

If your company or organisation has taken a Music at Work Programme course, we would appreciate your feedback about it. Your opinion is very important to us, and your comments help us to understand better both what we’re doing well and what could be improved. Please feel free to answer as many (or as few) questions as you like; it isn’t necessary for you to answer every question in order to submit the form.

Music at Work Programme
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