My name is Susie Butler and I am the owner and Principal of the Musica Fusion School of Music. I have a degree in Business Studies but my passion has always been music so combining them both provided me with the opportunity to set up the school.
As a musician, I have gigged with various bands and classical ensembles since I was 16 and have been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to travel with my music. As a music educator, I teach classical, acoustic, electric and bass guitar. I also teach double bass and I am one of 2 double bassists to play with the University of Limerick Orchestra.
Musica Fusion School of Music was established in September 2015 and has gone from strength to strength, due in no small part, to the quality of our teachers. Our teachers come from the Irish World Academy of Music in the University of Limerick, Cork School of Music and the locality which is rich in both traditional Irish and Classical music.
Our school offers tuition in a host of different instruments throughout the year, and during the summer months we have many summer camps on offer. We have individual tuition in every instrument from tuba to cello to drums! We cater for students of all ages and can cater for special needs students also.
Having so many different instruments on offer to the public has been a huge challenge in the business as I had to employ multi -talented teachers which are not always easy to come across. However, I’m proud to say that we have teachers who are not only performers but wonderful educators. Two of our teachers regularly perform with the RTE National Symphony Orchestra and all of them have performed to a very high level.
We have achieved a lot in such a short period of time but it has involved a lot of work! Although I only teach about 15 hrs a week, the running of the school and the administrative duties keep me very busy! Perhaps one of the things I am most proud of is our Orchestra.
The Musica Fusion Orchestra started in October 2015 at the Musica Fusion School of Music in Charleville. It is a free orchestra open to all music students and musicians in Charleville and the surrounding areas.
To date the Orchestra has almost 55 members, children and adults from the age of 4 upwards. We have members of the school, their parents, students from other music teachers in the area and adults who have played before and wanted to get back into it in a fun and challenging manner.
This year, we have 2 orchestras, a junior and senior. We rehearse every Friday evening from 5.30 to 7 at the Musica Fusion School. To date we have done 3 concerts, one of which was a fund raiser for Limerick Animal Welfare which raised €625.
Charleville has never had an orchestra before and we intend to build this orchestra from strength to strength and make Charleville a hub for all the up and coming classical musicians in our town!! Our conductor Sophie Butler, has already taken the orchestra to quite a high standard! This year we have been invited to perform at the Coole Music Festival in Gort, among other events!
Our orchestra consists of the following instruments at the moment; violins, violas, cellos, double bass, trombones, clarinets, flautists and percussionists.
The orchestra is a present funded by Musica Fusion School of Music who pay the conductor and the insurance and provide the rehearsal space. The school has also provided the following instruments to the orchestra – trombones, flutes, clarinets, double basses and cellos. In conjunction with Ballyhoura Development, we also purchased a xylophone for the orchestra.
But, in order to grow, we need the help of some of the local businesses and are hoping to persuade some of them to sponsor an instrument or two! In particular, we have a lot of percussion players in the area who would love to join if we had some orchestral percussion. Unfortunately, the budget for purchasing instruments has long gone so we need help! This is one of the big challenges I face. I want the orchestra to be as inclusive as possible.
The school offers a number of programs that are not available in most other music schools for example: Learn with your child initiative, the instrument bank (which allows students to borrow instruments from the school, especially those that are too expensive to buy like cellos and double basses), free ensemble activity for every student whether its rock band, jazz band, trad band, orchestra or choir. And of course I am most proud of our Little Musicas program.
Little Musicas is program designed to provide a gentle introduction to music by introducing the music concepts in a fun way. By the end of the 12 week course, the older students, 4/5 year olds should be ready to start on their instrument of choice with a good basic grounding of rhythm and musical concepts. The parents will also have learnt, or re learnt, in some cases some of the basics and be a valuable help to their child when they start proper lessons. Last year’s Little Musicas have all began their instrumental musical journey on cello, violin, piano, drums and recorder! The school operates a free lesson term for all parents so, parents can learn the instrument alongside them.
We are the first music school in the country to use the “Coloured Notes Program”, which is program designed to make sight reading music more accessible for dyslexic students. This program was designed by my 15 year old daughter and won 2nd place in the BT young scientist competition. Other music schools have already started to implement this program.
Our Music Scholarship program is underway, so far we have 8 businesses on board. Hopefully in the future more businesses will join up and help us provide free instrumental lessons for those who need it.
I am delighted with the way the first year has gone for the business, it has certainly surpassed my expectations however it was a very difficult business to get off the ground. We did not qualify for any start up grants, web grants, instrument grants etc.… so everything I have in the business I had to invest in myself with the exception of the xylophone for the orchestra which was purchased in part by Ballyhoura Development. Even the web site was designed by our family (my 12 year old niece and my husband). It will take a long time to break even but I feel I am on the right track and I am enjoying every moment of it.
Here we are, one year on, we have grown from 4 teachers to 10 teachers and our numbers have quadrupled! Our Scholarship program is up and running, we have a choir, 2 orchestras, 8 rock bands, a trad group, a guitar orchestra, a jazz band and 4 classical chamber groups! The energy and enthusiasm of the teachers is amazing!