- 20 Sep 23
Acclaimed artists Cian Sweeney (aka 1000 Beasts) and Laoise Leahy are among the lecturers at MTU Cork School of Music – considered one of the leading conservatoires on these shores and beyond. They give us an insight into what makes their programmes so unique…
With state-of-the-art facilities – including 60 Steinway grand pianos, a 385-seat concert hall, studios, industry-standard technical equipment, and more – MTU Cork School of Music is a thriving space for students who are serious about pursuing a future in the music and performing arts industries.
Located in the heart of Cork City, the purpose-built conservatory building offers a wide variety of undergraduate and postgraduate courses, covering areas such as Popular Music, Musical Theatre, Theatre & Drama, Music & Technology, Classical Music, Trad and Jazz.
Students are guided by a faculty made up of high-profile performers, industry professionals and academics, as well as regular guest lecturers.
Cian Sweeney, aka 1000 Beasts, for instance, is a platinum-selling producer and in-demand collaborator, who has worked with some of the biggest names in Irish music, and has seen his music featured in Conversations With Friends, Made In Chelsea and more. Cian devised and currently teaches on two modules at MTU Cork School of Music: Digital Music Production and Digital Music Performance.
“Creating a community of producers is what I’m trying to do here,” he tells us. “It’s fantastic. My students challenge me so much, in the best way possible. They’ll keep coming to me with new ideas, new music, new styles, and new techniques. I love it.”
He’s been inspired to see how the school has developed and diversified since he attended as a student.
“They introduced the BA in Popular Music in 2012, which means we get the pop students coming in and bringing in a totally different aspect of music,” he reflects. “There’s huge cross-collaboration. It’s all about working on each other’s projects, and it’s the same when it comes to performance – everybody plays in each other’s bands.”
Renowned Cork-born vocalist Laoise Leahy – who has performed and recorded with the likes of Bon Iver, Damon Albarn, Damien Rice, Gilbert O’Sullivan and Jack O’Rourke – is also part of the faculty, teaching specialised performance modules on the BA in Popular Music and Masters in Music Performance. As she points out, real-world industry experience is crucial when it comes to sharing knowledge with the next generation of performers.
“The industry is changing all the time,” she remarks. “It’s not just an academic exercise – it’s really important for me to be aware of how the current scene works and pass on real-life experience to my students through my own work; whether it’s recording and releasing my own music or working in television, radio or live performance.
“It’s a super practical course, suited to students who want to get stuck in and learn how to work in the music industry,” she says of the four-year BA in Popular Music programme. “There are so many opportunities to grow and develop around the skills you already have.”
The course puts a strong emphasis on performance, which includes individual tuition on the students’ principal instrument alongside second instrument studies and a wide range of incredible modules and opportunities. Recent former students include the likes of Alex Gough, SAL and Lloyd John, as well as up-and-coming songwriters like Bill Maybury and Julianne Quirke.
“There’s a great sense of community spirit, we all learn from and inspire each other” Laoise concludes. “Everybody knows everybody at our city centre campus. It’s vibrant and busy – there’s a real sense of industry... it’s buzzing!”
- Lifestyle & Sports
- 04 Dec 23