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Drumming Up Support for Mental Health in West Cork

26 April 2013

students of the NLN Focus Programme's drumming workshopA free concert showcasing the recently-acquired drumming skills of a group of particpants on a mental health programme took place this week (Thursday, 25th April 2013) at Abbeystrewery Church, Skibbereen, Co. Cork.

The concert featured an inspirational group of participants from a recent ten-week drumming workshop, which forms part of the National Learning Network’s Focus programme for people who have experienced mental health difficulties.
 
The drumming workshop, which ran for the first time last year, was deemed so successful it was reinstated for 2013. The concert marked the culmination of ten weeks of instruction and the group hopes to perform together again later in the summer.
 
During the drumming workshops, participants learned to play drums from far-flung places in Africa and South America, including bongos, boomwhackers, congo drums, djembes and djuns-djuns.
 
The weekly two-hour drumming workshops provided a wonderful outlet for the 10 participants to have some fun, to acquire a new skill, increase self-confidence and, at the same time, be part of a team.
  
The Focus programme enables people with mental ill health to enhance their levels of personal development, community integration and their sense of well-being, as well as explore vocational opportunities, and is funded by the Health Service Executive.
 
Lee Cole, an instructor on National Learning Network’s Focus programme at its Clonakilty centre, said:
 
“It’s been a fantastic initiative. There was real fun and enjoyment during the workshop and a great sense of achievement too because people were learning a new skill, something that they never thought they would have. What’s more, they learned together as a group with lots of camaraderie, mutual support, not to mention laughter! We’re planning more concerts for later in the year to allow people in the local community to experience these wonderful musical rhythms first hand.”
 
Michael Buckley one of the course participants, said:
 
“I had never played anything musical before the course. I really liked being involved – it gave me great courage and brought out my confidence to be able to sit around in a circle with the others. Sometimes the drums almost sound like human voices, a bit like a bass or a baritone sound, and you can really pick up a rhythm when we play as a group. Enjoyment is the main thing and I got a lot of that from learning how to play the drums.”
 
Mary Dowd one of the course participants, said:
 
“I found the workshop really therapeutic and it helped with my coordination and concentration. It’s not as easy as just banging a drum – there’s lots of listening and watching involved and it really gets you thinking. I liked being part of the group and working together to create one overall sound. This was my second time doing the drumming workshop; it was great to have the concert as a focus for the last few weeks.”
 
The concert was organised by National Learning Network in conjunction with Open Door Music and Community, West Cork Music, Music Alive, CoAction and the Cope Foundation.
 
About National Learning Network
National Learning Network is Ireland's leading provider of inclusive training, inclusive education and employment access services. We have over 50 years' experience working in the area of disability and training for employment or further education. We assist learners to learn the skills they need to build lasting careers in jobs that reflect their interests and abilities. As Ireland's largest non-government training organisation with over 50 training locations, we offer over 40 different training courses and are a FETAC accredited provider.
 
National Learning Network's person-centred approach means that each learner is central to the process and to the service that we provide. No fees apply to any National Learning Network courses. There are also no formal entry requirements, although learners must be aged over 16 years. Learners may also be admitted to courses continually during the year.
 
The majority of National Learning Network's courses are funded through FÁS and the Health Service Executive and therefore students receive an allowance for participation in the courses.