Passion for music is passed from one lucky generation to the next
THE Bray Music Centre, which operates from a small bungalow on the Florence Road, is the only VEC-run music project in the county.
It’s a place where people in the community can learn to play instruments, in a variety of styles, at reasonable prices.
The teaching staff are experienced, talented, and share a common goal - to provide a high standard of musical education for local people. Artemis Kent, Centre Head, has taught at the Centre for over 20 years and enjoys the task as much now as she ever did.
‘I very much enjoy being in touch with the young people,’ she said. ‘And now I am seeing the next generation come along, the children of those I taught when they were youngsters. I must have taught someone from every family in the area at this stage!’
She added that having pupils and teachers from different parts of the world really enriches the life of the school, which puts on at least one performance a year, meaning that students and staff get to work together on bringing the production to life.
The school started off in St. Thomas’ school, before the VEC bought the bungalow on Florence Road, which is now a place of learning for pianists, cellists, singers and more almost every day of the week.
‘It’s not a selective school, we have the very able and the less able here and even pupils with physical and mental difficulties as well as lots of adults,’ said Artemis. ‘When our students do very well it is of course a source of great pride, but the approach is holistic. Music has so many all-round benefits even for those who might not be the most gifted.’ A testament to the Bray Music Centre’s success is the calibre of instructor there, a few of whom took some time out from their gruelling schedules to tell us a little about themselves.
Artemis, now living in Bray, is originally from London and was a child prodigy as a pianist in the 1950s and 1960s. She won a scholarship to Trinity College Connecticut, then studied at the prestigious Hartt Conservatory of Piano and Composition. Her many projects over the years have included working with composer Virgil Thompson, as well as the legendary Don Baker and conducting the Greystones Youth Orchestra. Her travels have taken her to Spain, Italy, England, Sweden and Denmark, but she remains devoted to her pupils and to teaching at the Bray Music Centre. ‘I love having contact with the families,’ said Artemis, who teaches piano, theory and Junior and Leaving Certificate music.
ASHFORD WOMAN Phaedra Keogh has been with the centre for ten years now, teaching piano, theory and Leaving Certificate.
‘You can get great pleasure out of performing,’ she said, recalling carrying her first piano home down Ashford’s Main Street. ‘But nobody realises how hard you need to work for a performance.’
She has a wealth of experience, having put students through their paces in VEC centres in Kerry and Leinster as well as the last decade in Bray. ‘I really enjoy teaching, particularly Leaving Certificate,’ she said.
‘Because these are pupils who really want to do it as they have chosen the subject.’
She said that the concerts give the young performers the chance to put what they have learned in to practice on the stage, and also the teachers get to interact and work together on the production. ‘We collaborate on two shows a year and it’s great to work together as a school,’ she said.
Mike is one of the centre’s hidden nuggets of genius, and can also be found instructing highly-skilled Masters students at DIT in the nuances of jazz. Having played guitar since the age of four, he has earned his reputation as one of the leading guitarists in European jazz.
‘I really love it,’ he said of teaching. ‘I enjoy helping people to achieve their goals in music. The Bray Music Centre is great for the area as nearly all of the teachers is highly qualified with a Masters in music. Bray is very lucky to have such a valuable facility.’
Mike, who lives in Greystones, will perform at the Mermaid on January 17, introducing his new album which is in production at the moment.
The pupils and teachers at Bray Music Centre are in rehearsals at the moment preparing for their Christmas Concert, which will take place in St. Thomas’ on December 11 at 7.30 p.m.
Artemis Kent has taught at the Centre for over 20 years and still maintains her love for the job.
Teacher Gavin Roche with his daughter Sophie.
Piano teacher Phaedra Keogh from the Bray Music Centre.