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Waltons Music for Schools Competition

A National Competition and Celebration
of Music in Irish Schools

Generously Supported by RTÉ lyric fm

Our 2019 Competition theme and dates will be announced soon!

Q


• Are you a primary or post-primary school teacher or principal?
• Would you like to engage a diverse group of students
(primary or post-primary) in a creative and original music project?
• Would you like to expand your school music resources
– or start a new school music programme?
• Would you like to see a music group from your school
perform in a prestigious national concert venue?
• Would you like the opportunity to win up to €2,000 worth of
musical instruments or equipment for your school?

A


• Then enter the Waltons Music for Schools Competition!
Click on the tabs for information.

About the Competition

The annual Waltons Music for Schools Competition is a non-profit national initiative designed to support and reward music-making in Irish schools and at the same time incentivise teachers and schools to develop their music programmes and make music accessible to as many students as possible. The Competition is designed to promote the enormous benefits of – both musical and non-musical – of creative and collaborative music making for young people and to provide Finalists with the opportunity to perform their finished works at a prestigious national venue.


How It Works

Eligibility

All primary and post-primary schools recognised by the Department of Education and Skills in the Republic of Ireland are eligible to enter the Music for Schools Competition. To date, schools from all 26 counties have participated.

Elements

  1. To enter the Competition, schools submit an entry form and video recording of a single ensemble piece or song performed by an instrumental, vocal or mixed group, all of whom must be current students in the school. The piece or song can be in any musical style (classical, traditional, rock/pop, musical theatre, jazz, world, etc.) and can be existing or original, but it should in some way address the year’s Competition theme.
  2. Twelve music groups (six Primary and six Post-Primary) are then selected by an initial judging panel to perform in the year’s Finalists Concert at a prestigious national concert venue.
  3. At the end of the concert, six of the Finalists (three Primary and three Post-Primary) are selected to win First, Second and Third Prizes.

Adjudicators

The selection of prize winners at the Finalists Concert is made three adjudicators, two of whom are two prominent Irish musicians, composers and/or music educators, and the third a representative of Waltons New School of Music.

Prizes

Prizes are vouchers to be used for musical instruments and/or equipment for the winning schools. The total prize fund is €7,000, divided as follows:

  • First Prizes (Primary and Post-Primary): €2,000 voucher each
  • Second Prizes (Primary and Post-Primary): €1,000 voucher each
  • Third Prizes (Primary and Post-Primary): €500 voucher each

Approach

Theme

Each year’s Competition has a theme, and while entries should address the theme, groups are encouraged to interpret the theme in any way they see fit. Our 2017 theme was ‘Music Has No Borders’.

Breadth

The Competition is not restricted to a genre of music or type of performing group. We welcome all genres and mixed genres, and performing groups have included choirs, instrumental groups, combined instrumental and vocal ensembles, traditional groups, rock bands and mixtures of all of these. This offers teachers and schools the opportunity to think and work creatively with any combination of students to develop an original music project that has learning potential at every stage of the process.

Collaboration

Meaningful collaboration – among students and between teachers and students – is encouraged and rewarded. Competition entry forms ask how the entry piece or song was developed, and those developed collaboratively have invariably been the most successful.

Inclusiveness

Groups that include participants of different ages and skill levels are also favoured. A Music for Schools project is not only an opportunity to develop a unique and exciting piece and to perform it in public, it should also be an opportunity for diverse group of young people to work together in a meaningful way   as well as an opportunity for older participants to mentor younger ones.

Beyond Winners and Prizes

Although only twelve of the many entries we receive each year are chosen as Finalists, we recognise, with Commended and Highly Commended certificates, those groups not selected that nevertheless achieved something special. In any case, the project doesn’t need to end there; the song/piece can be performed for the school, and the entry video is a record of the achievement as well.

Likewise, while six of the twelve Finalist groups win prizes each year, all Finalist groups have achieved something extraordinary and all Finalist performers receive individual certificates.

Waltons Music for Schools Competition

Background

The value of music and music education is undisputed. Numerous international studies* have shown that music instruction and active music making supplies intellectual, emotional and physical components critical to young people’s development. Yet despite the acknowledged results of these studies and the recent Department of Education and Skills music curriculum guidelines for primary schools, Ireland still has a school system where many young people have little exposure to music making. The Waltons Music for Schools Competition thus offers a unique opportunity for primary and post-primary schools to kick-start or develop their own music programmes.

(* For more information and specific studies on the benefits of music education, see the Why Music? page on the Waltons New School of Music website.)

Waltons Music for Schools Competition

The Process

  1. School music groups develop an ensemble piece or song that addresses the year’s Competition theme.
  2. Schools submit a video of the group performing their piece or song, as well as an entry form and jpg photograph of the performing group, by the entry deadline. (Click on another tab for entry requirements.)
  3. A shortlist of twelve Finalist schools (six primary and six post-primary) is chosen by our first round adjudicators.
  4. The first round adjudicators may also choose to recognise entering schools not selected as Finalists but displaying real merit as either Commended or Highly Commended. These schools will receive certificates of commendation for all performers.
  5. The twelve Finalist schools are announced by Liz Nolan on RTÉ lyric fm.
  6. Entry videos of the twelve Finalists are added to the Competition’s YouTube channel.
  7. Finalist music groups rehearse their pieces or songs.
  8. Finalist music groups perform in a gala Finalists Concert at the National Concert Hall before their peers and two distinguished adjudicators. (Tickets for Finalists Concerts are free, and after allocating seats for the performers and their supervisors, the remaining tickets will be evenly divided among the twelve Finalist schools to allocate for guests.)
  9. The year’s six winning schools (three primary and three post-primary) are announced at the end of the concert.
  10. Videos of the Finalists Concert are added to the Competition’s YouTube channel.
Waltons Music for Schools Competition
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Entry Requirements

Participating schools should submit the following materials:

  1. A completed entry form.
  2. Either a DVD or an MPG, AVI or MOV video recording of an ensemble piece or song (no more than five minutes long) performed by an instrumental, vocal or mixed group of no more than 40 students, all of whom must be current students at the school. The piece or song can be in any musical style (classical, traditional, rock/pop, musical theatre, jazz, world, etc.) and can be existing or original, but it should in some way address the year’s Competition Theme. The video must be prepared specifically for the Competition; videos of school concerts or other events are not acceptable. The video should be in one ‘take’, and space permitting all members of the performing group should be visible throughout its length.
  3. jpg photograph of the entire performing group.

Schools may enter more than performing group, but each should be submitted as a separate entry, along with its own video and photograph.

Entry Forms

Entry forms can be accessed via the links below or through the main Music for Schools Competition menu.

Primary Entry Form
Post-Primary Entry Form

Waltons Music for Schools Competition

Sending Your Entry

Since video files can be quite large to send by email, we strongly recommend that you use a file transfer service such as wetransfer to send them. Please name your file ‘[School Name] – [Performing Group Name] – Music for Schools Competition Entry’ and use the following email address:

musicforschools@newschool.ie

Although file transfers are preferred, we also accept entries and materials posted to:

Waltons Music for Schools Competition
Waltons New School of Music
69 South Great George’s Street, Dublin 2

Waltons Music for Schools Competition

Terms & Conditions

  1. All primary and post-primary schools, as well as special schools, recognised by the Department of Education and Skills in the Republic of Ireland are eligible to enter this competition.
  2. All entries must include a contact name (school principal, music co-ordinator or teacher) for all correspondence relating to the competition, and must be signed by the school principal.
  3. Prizes will consist of trophies and certificates/vouchers for obtaining musical instruments and equipment, as follows:
    • Primary schools: First Prize €2,000, Second Prize €1,000 and Third Prize €500.
    • Post-primary schools: First Prize €2,000, Second Prize €1,000 and Third Prize €500.
  4. Vouchers are non-exchangeable and non-transferable and may only be applied towards musical instruments and equipment. Vouchers may not be exchanged for cash.
  5. There is a maximum of 40 performers in each group. All performers in submitted video recordings must be current students in the entrant school and available to perform, if the school is chosen as a Finalist, in this year’s Finalists Concert.
  6. All student performers in both entry videos and Finalists Concert performances should wear their normal school uniforms, unless other clothing is absolutely necessary (i.e. a dancer wearing looser clothing or a student wearing a costume for a particular dramatic purpose).
  7. Primary school groups may include up to two adult participants, a conductor/director and/or an accompanist. Post-primary school groups may include one adult participant, a conductor/director or an accompanist.
  8. Other audio recordings, videos and/or photographs of music activities that have taken place at your school will also be accepted as part of the submission but are not essential.
  9. Finalist schools may be asked to provide evidence and verification of such activities.
  10. Participating schools and their entries may be used by Waltons New School of Music and/or RTÉ lyric fm in publicity relating to the Competition. Videos and photographs of the Finalists Concert will be featured on the Competition and other web pages and may be sent to national and local media.
  11. Decisions of both the initial judging panel (selecting the twelve Finalist schools) and Finalists Concert adjudicators are final, and no correspondence will be entered into.
  12. Although Second and Third Prize winners are eligible to enter the Competition again in the following year, First Prize winners are not eligible to enter for the next two years.
Waltons Music for Schools Competition

Mailing List

Subscribe to our Waltons Music for Schools Competition mailing list and be the first to receive information about next year’s and future Competitions.

You can unsubscribe from the mailing list at any time by clicking on the Manage Your Subscription link at the bottom of every newsletter. We take your privacy seriously and will not share your email address with anyone else.

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Waltons Music for Schools Competition

Previous Competitions

See main tabs or click on the links below for information, photos and videos of previous Music for Schools Competitions:

2017 Competition
2016 Competition
2015 Competition
2014 Competition
2013 Competition
2012 Competition
Waltons Music for Schools Competition

Previous Prize Winners

2017

Primary

  • First Prize Grúpa Ceoil na Gaelscoile
    Gaelscoil Aonach Urmhumhan, Co. Thiobraid Áran
  • Second Prize Le Chéile
    St. John’s National School, Breaffy, Co. Mayo
  • Third Prize Bunscoil Loreto Orchestra
    Bunscoil Loreto, Gorey, Co. Wexford

Post-Primary

  • First Prize Scoil Mhuire Performing Arts Group
    Scoil Mhuire, Trim, Co. Meath
  • Second Prize Coláiste Chill Mhantáin Music Ensemble
    Coláiste Chill Mhantáin, Wicklow Town, Co. Wicklow
  • Third Prize St. Joseph’s Ensemble
    St. Joseph’s Secondary School, Rochfortbridge, Co. Westmeath

Adjudicators

Deborah Kelleher
Bill Whelan


2016

Primary

  • First Prize Friendship Counts Group
    Craanford National School, Gorey, Co. Wexford
  • Second Prize Ceolfhoireann Moshíológ
    Gaelscoil Moshíológ, Guaire, Co. Loch Gorman
  • Third Prize Grúpa Ceoil na Gaelscoile
    Gaelscoil Aonach Urmhumhan, Co. Thiobraid Árann

Post-Primary

  • First Prize OLSS Performing Arts Group
    Our Lady’s Secondary School, Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan
  • Second Prize Scoil Mhuire Performing Arts Group
    Scoil Mhuire, Trim, Co. Meath
  • Third Prize Presentation College Headford Group
    Presentation College, Headford, Co. Galway

Adjudicators

Gwen Moore
Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin


2015

Primary

  • First Prize Ss. Peter & Paul’s CBS Senior Band & Narrators
    Ss. Peter & Paul’s CBS, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary
  • Second Prize Let It Go Group
    Craanford National School, Gorey, Co. Wexford
  • Third Prize Bunscoil Loreto Music Group
    Bunscoil Loreto, Gorey, Co. Wexford

Post-Primary

  • First Prize Castleknock College Pop Ensemble
    Castleknock College, Castleknock, Dublin 15
  • Second Prize Mercy Heights Music Ensemble
    Mercy Heights Secondary School, Skibbereen, Co. Cork
  • Third Prize OLSS Performing Arts Group
    Our Lady’s Secondary School, Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan

Adjudicators

David Brophy
Ellen Cranitch


2014

Primary

  • First Prize Knockanean Music Club
    Knockanean National School, Ennis, Co. Clare
  • Second Prize Cór Gaelscoil Adhamhnáin
    Gaelscoil Adhamhnáin, Leitir Ceanainn, Co. Dhún na nGall
  • Third Prize Cuisle Moshíológ
    Gaelscoil Moshíológ, Guaire, Co. Loch Garman

Post-Primary

  • First Prize School Choir, Grúpa Ceoil, Orchestra & Rock Band
    Borris Vocational School, Borris, Co. Carlow
  • Second Prize Laurel Hill Vocal & Instrumental Ensemble
    Laurel Hill Secondary School, Limerick
  • Third Prize OLSS Performing Arts Group
    Our Lady’s Secondary School, Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan

Adjudicators

Julie Feeney
Bill Whelan


2013

Primary

  • First Prize Killbrittain Musical Group
    Kilbrittain National School, Co. Cork
  • Second Prize tSlí Dála Music Group
    Gaelscoil an tSlí Dala, Borris-in-Ossory, Co. Laois
  • Third Prize Knockanean Music Club
    Knockanean National School, Co. Clare

Post-Primary

  • First Prize Go Beyond the Sea Group
    Presentation College, Headford, Co. Galway
  • Second Prize Crescent College Comprehensive Choir & Orchestra
    Crescent College Comprehensive School, Co. Limerick
  • Third Prize Castleknock College Soul Band & Choir
    Castleknock College, Dublin 15

Adjudicators

Ellen Cranitch
Dónal Lunny


2012

Primary

  • First Prize Holy Family Chamber Choir
    Holy Family Senior Primary School, Ennis, Co. Clare
  • Second Prize Cnoc An Éin Ensemble
    Knockanean National School, Co. Clare
  • Third Prize Killbrittain Musical Group
    Kilbrittain National School, Co. Cork

Post-Primary

  • First Prize Our Lady’s College Choir
    Our Lady’s College, Drogheda, Co. Louth
  • Second Prize OLSS Performing Arts Group
    Our Lady’s Secondary School, Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan
  • Third Prize John Scottus Senior Choir & Ensemble
    John Scottus Secondary School, Dublin 4

Adjudicators

Carl Corcoran
Deborah Kelleher

Previous Adjudicators

YEAR ADJUDICATORS
2017 Deborah Kelleher • Bill Whelan
2016 Gwen More • Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin
2015 David Brophy • Ellen Cranitch
2014 Bill Whelan • Julie Feeney
2013 Ellen Cranitch • Dónal Lunny
2012 Carl Corcoran • Deborah Kelleher
Waltons Music for Schools Competition

Comments by Past Finalists

Primary Finalists

‘The Finalists Concert was amazing. I cannot commend the Waltons’ management and staff highly enough for their organisation, courtesy, and being so accommodating on the day. The day ran flawlessly. Rehearsal time was ample and necessary. The layout of the programme for the day was great, as primary finalists were mixed with secondary schools. A great idea!’
Jillian Bridge
Holy Family Senior Primary School, Co. Clare

‘The school is so proud of the achievement of its pupils. The community has been fabulous and really made us feel like heroes by throwing a party. The confidence has grown again in pupils, and it’s great to see some pupils who may have been shy putting their names down to sing solo or with small groups in different events in the school.’
Orla Fogarty
Kilbrittain National School, Co. Cork

‘I can’t describe how inspired we all were after the concert. It was such an uplifting event. The pupils were alive with ideas for next year in the bus on the way home. It has given us a huge boost and the pupils are walking the corridors as celebrities since. Sincere thanks to yourself and your team on organising the event and on giving the pupils this wonderful opportunity to play in such an amazing venue…. It is certainly a day we will remember forever and we can only hope that in the future we may be so fortunate as to be involved again.’
Aileen Kennedy
Bunscoil Loreto, Co. Wexford

‘Children were given opportunity to perform in a great venue to a wonderful audience. This has given them great self-confidence. Some of the parents were in awe at how good the children were and gave them great praise and encouragement. Aideen Walton met one of our children in the foyer and complimented her on her singing. This made her day!’
Áine Kennedy
Danescastle National School, Co. Wexford

‘I thought excitement levels upon qualifying for the final could not be topped, but the entire experience on Monday was incredible. It was such a privilege to be a part of the Finalists Concert. The standard of talent was exceptional, and the concert was incredibly uplifting and beyond inspirational. I am left dumbfounded at the organisation it must take to put an event like this together…. I am not aware of any other such platform or opportunity for schools to showcase their musical work, and the open and all-encompassing nature of your competition is inspiring. From the bottom of my heart I would like to thank you all for such wonderful work. It has been an incredible journey.’
Niamh McCarthy
Lisheen National School, Co. Cork

‘Participation in the Waltons Music for Schools project has brought our pupils to a musical place, both physically and emotionally, that we never dreamed we could reach. It made us go beyond what we thought was our best effort, and find a creative musical niche for every child involved.’
Joan McNamara
Knockanean National School, Co. Clare

‘There is no other competition like it. Our children have taken on a new air of confidence and belief. Playing as a group develops so much more than musical abilities – responsibility, teamwork, a sense of belonging and partnership. The support and buy in from pupils and parents alike from the very first day really helped us to achieve something very special. It has lifted the school immensely, and the level of goodwill in the community is palpable.’
Orla McNamara
Gaelscoil Aonach Urmhumhan, Co. Thiobraid Árann

‘The competition has given us a great sense of pride. It has encouraged less skilled and younger children to practice. It has enhanced our standing in the community. And it has given the children something worthwhile to aim for and experience.’
Róise Nevin
Gaelscoil an tSlí Dála, Co. Laoise

‘It was a privilege for a school such as ours to be on stage there, a once-in-a lifetime experience for many of those involved. Of course, coming home with a prize was the icing on the cake but the preparation, enthusiasm and excitement of the children over the whole event was a joy to us all.’
Maire Nic Gairbhe-Uí Bhaoill
Gaelscoil Adhamhnáin, Co. Dhún na nGall


Post-Primary Finalists

‘The competition has given the school a great boost in terms of staff, students and parents. It has been a terrific promotion of the school on a wider scale and will have an impact on students who take music as a subject in the future. The music facilities in the school will also benefit hugely from winning the prize.’
Ita Cunningham
Presentation College, Co. Galway

‘The finalists concert was a really brilliant experience. To see schools from all over the country and the level of support they offered each other was something I’ve never experienced in other competitions. There was a real sense of fun as well as well as the gravity of the event on our national stage. To be able to perform at the National Concert Hall was an experience in itself, but to win first prize really was the icing on the cake after a fantastic experience on the day. It is a feeling that…will stay with us all for a long time to come.’
Fearghus Fallon
Castleknock College, Dublin 15

‘Thank you for all your hard work and dedication to promoting music in Irish schools. Myself and the students thoroughly enjoyed all phases of the process and we have raved about it everyone. Thank you!’
Ursula Finnegan
Loreto Secondary School, Co. Donegal

‘It has raised the profile of Music, Choir and Orchestra to another level! We have now achieved, along with the rugby and soccer teams, and that is great for music in the school. A couple of students switched to music from another subject in 1st Year!’
Róisín Lavery
Crescent College Comprehensive, Co. Limerick

‘I had one parent who quietly approached me last week to thank me for including her daughter in our group. This gorgeous shy little girl has struggled in school since first year. Her parents have been so worried and concerned for her. Her mam explained that being part of the group has changed her life. She has found a confidence from within and has made new friends. I no longer see her on her own walking the corridors at lunchtime but among a lovely group of girls chatting and having a laugh. It’s moments like this that make our job so worthwhile. It goes to prove that it is the extra-curricular activities in our schools that will make or break the next generation.’
Yvonne Muldoon
St. Joseph’s Secondary School, Co. Westmeath

‘The Waltons Music for Schools Competition is without a shadow of a doubt one of the best events in the country at the moment. It allows students to perform in the most prestigious venue in the country, mix with so many other schools and most importantly it fosters a wonderful sense of creativity in students allowing them to have an input into creating a performance and does not exclude any style. This sense of inclusivity makes preparing performances a pleasure with nobody being left out. To look around at 1200 people smiling cheering and singing during the interval act was certainly uplifting and it will be a memory never forgotten.’
Cara Murray
Our Lady’s Secondary School, Co. Monaghan

‘The competition has benefited our students enormously. They have gone from strength to strength in confidence and really have thrived. They have a deeper appreciation of music of all types and have established long lasting friendships throughout.’
Emer Prendergast
Ursuline College, Co. Sligo

‘To win this competition has truly been a dream come true. It has been such an uplifting and positive experience for the students and teachers involved. Blending the genres of Pop, Rock, Rap, Classical, Traditional Irish Music and Voice brought about an opportunity for students from First year to Fifth year to collaborate together, work hard and bond in a most remarkable way. This exposure to music fusion has provided a platform for each student to broaden their educational experience and compliment their classroom lessons. It has been a thoroughly worthwhile experience, and I recommend this competition and process to every school and music department in the country.’
Ciarán Somers
Borris Vocational School, Co. Carlow

Waltons Music for Schools Competition

Comments by Past Adjudicators

‘Behind the facts and figures relating to music education in Ireland, there lies an indisputable truth, thrillingly exemplified on the stage of the National Concert Hall during the Waltons Music for Schools Competition Finalists Concert: the depth of musical creativity among our young people is simply astonishing. This creativity, borne of endless hours practice and dedication and lovingly nurtured by music teachers throughout the country, is one of the greatest cultural assets our country could wish for. What an honour and privilege to witness at first hand the flourishing of Ireland’s musical talent. Bravo to all involved!’
David Brophy
Conductor, Music Educator

‘Hearing such fantastic music making on the stage of the National Concert Hall, seeing the young musicians move and play with such confidence and joy, filled me with pride and admiration for them, their parents, teachers and everyone who contributes towards giving these musicians a gift that will always be with them. They are wonderful, and if this is where music education is headed, then we are is headed, then we are in safe hands. A totally exhilarating and life-affirming experience.’
Ellen Cranitch
Broadcaster, Composer, Musician

‘I would like to congratulate all the young people on the stage today. It is really inspiring for me to see the truly excellent work that you have done, and what is most palpable is the passion oozing from every note, move and nuance. Outstanding to me also are your teachers. Thank you for being such wonderful catalysts in this beautiful event. Without a doubt my head is fizzing. Thank you, thank you, thank you.’
Julie Feeney
Composer, Singer-Songwriter

‘The Waltons Music for Schools Competition offers a unique opportunity for schools all over Ireland – a musical focal point for their efforts, and an opportunity to perform for each other in Ireland’s premier music venue, the National Concert Hall. Once again, the shortlisted schools were up for the live challenge, providing the adjudicators with a tough task of deciding on the winners from an array of such quality. The enthusiasm of the students and teachers was palpable and infectious; the atmosphere was electric; the music innovative and magical. One of the highlights of my year.’
Deborah Kelleher
Director, Royal Irish Academy of Music

‘I have two things to say about this Finalists Concert. First, to your parents, teachers, friends and mentors, and to yourselves, you are a credit. And second, what we saw today was a product, a goal you were working towards, but the process is equally important. So remember all of those hours of practice, of working together, and the friendships that have developed. These experiences will stay with you forever. And remember that participation, making music together, is the most special thing that you can take away from today. Thank you so much for your wonderful performances. It was a pleasure to be part of this.’
Gwen Moore
Coordinator, MA Music Education, University of Limerick

‘One of the highlights of the year for us was to experience this extraordinarily joyous celebration of music and dancing. You seemed to perform from the very centre of your hearts, and there was such a wide variety of themes and artistic enterprise. The experience reminded me of a poem by Seamus Heaney called “The Rainstick” and what he describes when you upend a rainstick as “a music you never would have known to listen for”. It is said that performing music is performing a part of yourself that you grow into. All of the descriptions of the Finalist schools indicated a belief that what young people are doing with these performances is expanding your consciousness, growing your personalities and most importantly developing a confidence that you will be able to bring with you, no matter what you do in life.’
Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin
Composer, Musician, Educator

‘Two things stood out in my mind during this superb display of talent at the NCH. The first was the tremendous lift to the spirit that comes from seeing so many young musicians, singers and dancers perform. The second was the ease and confidence with which they moved from traditional Irish music to classical to contemporary – it was truly music without boundaries and a credit to all involved.’
Bill Whelan
Composer and Musician

Waltons Music for Schools Competition
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Waltons Music for Schools Competition Facebook Page

Competition YouTube Channel

Waltons Music for Schools Competition YouTube Channel

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