You can emulate U2, musicians told

The kind of small beginnings that U2 enjoyed in their own school could yet lead to fame for Ireland’s budding musicians, the Edge predicts.

The Dublin group’s guitarist recounted yesterday how they started out using a small practice room at their own second-level school, little knowing they would become the world’s biggest music act.

They now hope that their support for music lessons will give more young people the same opportunities.

“We think it’s very important in U2 to give young people access to music from a young age. We had it ourselves at our school from first year onwards,” said the Edge.

“We also had the encouragement to use the music rooms when we first formed the band. And, at that stage, none of the members of the band had any idea where it would lead. We were just doing it because it was fun.”

The €7m provided by U2 and the Ireland Funds in 2009 has kept the Music Generation project alive and plans are now being made to expand the scheme. More than 5,000 children have benefited from subsidised high-quality music education in Cork City, Laois, Louth, Mayo, Sligo and Wicklow.

The scheme is now being extended to Carlow, Limerick City, and Offaly/Westmeath, with hopes that it can become a national programme.

Those aims may be helped by the planned co-funding of the scheme from next year by the Department of Education, with plans to have the original €7m matched by Government and local education partnerships by 2016.

“This is to the music generation of Irish young people what the Young Scientist exhibition and all the energy that it mobilises, or what is now the Texaco art competition, are. There’s so much energy and talent there,” said Education Minister Ruairi Quinn.

“There are so many different ways of being good at school that aren’t being captured, and the energy that it unlocks, not just with the students but with their teachers and with their parents, is quite phenomenal.

And we need more of that creativity and more of that just being happy, because, as the Edge said, when U2 started together it was because they liked doing it.”

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