Donegal music classes, music groups – a great start!

Welcome to the online home of the Donegal Music Education Partnership, offering top-notch Donegal music classes and organising 11 performing groups across Donegal.

We offer lots of music and singing classes in Letterkenny, Donegal Town and other centres. We teach mostly classical, with some jazz, contemporary/rock and traditional music. We cater for all ages and abilities. Details here.

If we don’t have what you’re interested in, we can point you in the right direction. To find out more about Donegal music classes, or indeed singing tuition or performing groups, call us on 07491 76293 (office hours), email or send us a Facebook message.

We’ve had a great start to 2018. Yes, Donegal music classes going full tilt with our 30+ tutors, and lots of memorable concerts, workshops and trips.

On Sunday 21st January we had not just one but two world premieres at a concert in Conwal Church featuring our own Donegal Chamber Orchestra and the Robinson Panoramic Quartet. We also had trad workshops on Sat 20th with John Doyle (guitar) and Ciaran Tourish (fiddle).

Then we organised a group of ten young trad musicians from different Donegal trad schools to attend the Music @ Mount Leinster week in Borris, County Carlow (Mon 12th Feb – Thurs 15th). They rocked at the concert (so to speak).

That John McLachlan commission ‘This is Real’, premiered at Conwal, had a super second performance at the Kadeidoscope night at the Sugar Club in Dublin on Thurs Feb 1. Thanks to the Arts Council for funding for the commission. Here’s a review of the night in the Journal of Music.

The Donegal Youth Orchestra produced a bravura performance in the National Concert Hall when closing the IAYO Festival of Youth Orchestras on Sat 10th Feb. We had more than 70 performers on stage, with Vincent Kennedy conducting.

Busy busy. But sure we decided to keep going 🙂

‘Trad Meets Classical’ following on Sunday 11th March. Super concert in front of a good crowd, again at Conwal, featuring our own Donegal Chamber Orchestra, the very talented young trad group Coirm from local trad school Ceol na Coille, and mouthorgan and accordion wizard Tom Byrne from Buncrana. Check out this Zoe Conway composition from Coirm and the DCO. 

We’ve hardly stopped smiling when we had another ‘biggie’, this time organised by Donegal Youth Orchestra conductor Vincent Kennedy. ‘A Year in Donegal’ at An Grianán theatre in Letterkenny on Sunday 18th March featured the DYO, Little John Nee, soprano Aisling Kennedy, narrator Declan O’Brien and, for a powerful finale, the Arranmore Pipe Band. Great show, great reception from close to a full house on a Sunday afternoon, 18th March.

On Tuesday 20th our group of young sax players Saxtet played at Glenveagh Castle for the launch of Optum’s third-level scholarship scheme.

Today, Sunday 25th March, the Donegal Youth Choir headed off early for a four-night trip to Lourdes with conductor Sara Laughlin, accompanist Evan McGarrigle and organiser-in-chief Deirdre Grant from Joe Walsh Tours. Deirdre reckons they were a credit to the DMEP, Donegal and Ireland, no less 🙂


On that same Sunday 25th there was the wonderful sound of more than 20 young musicians and singers taking part in Soundwaves Monthly with Wall2Wall Music downstairs here at the RCC. (see pic below, Adam Grady out front kicking off improv session – and here’s the video)

Now we need to collect our thoughts! But read on . . .


Conductor Vincent Kennedy and the DYO’s own Mary Armitage at the last rehearsal before the concert at the National Concert Hall on Saturday 10th Feb. All the hard work paid off (as it usually does)! Mary Armitage, DYO doyenne, looks on.

Here at the DMEP we have almost 500 music and voice students on our books, mostly young people but the occasional enterprising adult too. We have more than thirty tutors in eight towns and villages across Donegal. We’re still filling the odd vacancy as it arises and we have full/part scholarships available in some instruments, including viola and French horn.

Conwal Parish Church, Letterkenny, Sun 21st 3pm – The Robinson Panoramic Quartet (above) and the Donegal Chamber Orchestra performed the world premiere of ‘This is Real’ by John McLachlan. The piece was commissioned by the DMEP with the support of the Arts Council. The concert also featured the world premiere of ‘Absence’ by Derek Ball, originally from Letterkenny. Both composers spoke at the concert (although in Derek’s case it was to remark that the piece was self-explanatory 🙂

John Doyle (closest to camera) working with some cracking Donegal guitar players and upcoming talent 🙂

John Doyle – ex-Solas, Joan Baez and Mary Chapin-Carpenter go-to guy delivered a super workshop for DMEP here at Regional Cultural Centre on Saturday 20th. Ex-Altan fiddler Ciaran Tourish was also on workshop duty here that day. And they played a super Music Network concert that night at Kinnegar Brewery with Niamh Parsons and Liam Kelly. No bother to them! Workshops (which drew 20+) were supported by Music Network and RCC, thanks folks! 

Click here to enrol for music tuition or our performing groups.

You can get on our waiting list for tuition by dropping a line to with this info – parent/guardian name/ student name/ student DOB/ chosen instrument(s)/ musical experience? /address / mobile no / landline no. The tuition programme is after school, so let us know if any evening doesn’t suit.

The DMEP is making a big impact on music making in Donegal (and let’s thank the Department of Education for funding and our parent body Donegal Education and Training Board). As well as the Famous 500 going to the Donegal music classes (yes, that’s the key phrase for the crawlies), there are another 300 or so in our performing music groups, which include the Donegal Youth Orchestra and the Donegal Youth Choir.

See our ‘News’ section for the latest all round. For more info on music classes, music groups or Donegal musical life in general, contact Aisling or Martin at the DMEP on 07491 76293 or

Donegal Music Education Partnership works in partnership with the national network of Music Generation.

ABOVE – Young Donegal musicians pictured just before going onstage at the main gigrig at Ennis during the 2017 All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil. With them are, on left, Roisin McGrory of the Inishowen Traditional Music Project, and on right Martin McGinley (standing) of the Donegal Music Education Partnership and Paul Harrigan (kneeling) of Ceol na Coille, Letterkenny.

ABOVE – Our ‘young maestros’ who starred in the Atlantic Arc concert at An Grianan Theatre during the Earagail Arts Festival 2017. From left, Amy Gillen (flute, Bridgetown); Sarah Walsh (violin, Ballybofey); Amy Meehan (keyboards/vocals, Manorcunningham); and the Murray twins from Falcarragh, Michael (sax) and Conor (double bass).

We’re also signing up for our eleven performing groups, with music and singing for all ages. Our adult return-to-music group Mind Your Quavers warmly welcomes new members, as does our adult choir, the Errigal Singers. Young singers are catered for in our three junior choirs (Letterkenny, Dungloe, Carrick) and Donegal Youth Choir, conducted by Sara Laughlin. Jazzers have the Errigal Groove Orchestra (keen to have new members in 2017 – 18)) and Errigal Saxtet. We’re delighted to have more than sixty young musicians signed up for the Donegal Youth Orchestra under conductor Vincent Kennedy. Big sound! Then there’s the Donegal Chamber Orchestra, with some high-profile gigs recently, and the Donegal Junior and Intermediate Strings, who finished the year with a school tour in the Letterkenny area.

Yes, the DMEP is a fantastic music project (though we say so ourselves :-).

As we may have mentioned (and no harm to do it again), the DMEP is part of Donegal Education and Training Board and is funded by the Department of Education and Skills. Many of the Donegal music classes happen in ETB schools, colleges and centres across the county. We teach mostly classical and jazz, with some contemporary/rock and traditional music. If you’d like to play or sing, get in touch!

The Errigal Groove Orchestra, with some talented new members for 2017-18 (to join the talented existing members!), in action with conductor Sean McCarron on Culture Night.

  • Soundwaves 2016
    Soundwaves 2016 the Regional Cultural Centre, Letterkenny ( 15-17 of February)