Models of Practice
Music & Youth Work


In our approach to arts and youth work we think of three things:  art as education, art as fun and art as a professional option.

The Rialto Youth Project’s Music Programme is structured into four age-related developmental strands. Each strand offers a clear progression in music for young people from their primary school years through to transition from secondary school to further musical education and other creative directions.


RYP Music Model of Practice


We believe in equality of opportunity for children and young people. We believe in the uniqueness, dignity and equal worth of young people and in their right to access opportunities that enhance their lives. Young people should be treated equally.


We believe in challenging and making a long-term commitment to transforming unjust social conditions through a pragmatic interface with the real politics of change. We are committed to social justice around questions of access to education.


We believe in the transformative power of art and creativity as a way of working with young people. We have a long tradition and a strong commitment to arts and cultural practice as a means of creative expression across a range of forms including the visual arts, theatre, music dance and street performance.

Music at Rialto Youth Project

Music is a powerful transformative force. Music captures imaginations. We create spaces where musical expression is respected and heard. Music is a language that connects.

Definition of Music

Music has been an integral part of the life of young people. It lives and breathes through their everyday experiences, forming a sense of self and culture.

Our Music Programme is not a consumer model. It’s about making music from life experience, creating original music that captures imaginations. Music is self-expression. It’s a powerful, positive force.

We create spaces where those expressions are respected and heard, where you can sing about things you can’t talk about. It takes a lot of outreach work to get the young person engaged in music. It differentiates us from traditional music school models.

Music is transformative. Some young people lose a connection with themselves: music can offer a way to reconnect with creativity. Music is a language that connects, giving licence to explore and express complex ideas and emotions.

Music Philosophy

There’s a triangulation of shared learning between the young person, youth worker and artist. One can’t work without the other. We negotiate and explore our musical interests and tastes together. These are the building blocks through which the voice of young people is honoured and valued. Each child and young person is invited into their music space personally. It’s important to know each young person individually well as in group sessions. We build the relationship, by calling to homes, being consistent, showing that we value the young person, see them as individuals with aspirations. Trust is essential to the work we do.

We start where young people are at. We look at what needs to be put in place to support and develop their music skills. We identify young people’s passions through evaluation, observation and discussion. We gain understanding about what may be going on for each young person and how best to support their participation.

We take young people seriously and support young people to take themselves seriously. Music practice is very important, we support those young people who really struggle to practice or who lack the physical space to practice. We encourage young people to take ownership of their own musical journey.

The Music Programme ties in with existing formal musical education for young people. It supports / compliments the young person’s learning in Junior and Leaving Cert exams and application processes for 3rd level.

We recognise that each child’s needs are different. Some need encouragement and to be given the confidence to work on their own and check their own work. Others may need a quiet space and one-to-one help to build concentration and listening skills. Each child knows what peers they will work with and which leader will help them. This is crucial for building positive, supportive relationships both with peers and adults.

RYP Music Programme

Music Programme
Four Developmental Strands

  1. Little Steps, Big Pathways is a foundational programme in music for 5 to 8 year olds. In our long experience of arts-based youth work we have seen that children with a broad exposure to a range of artistic forms at this early stage are in a better position to focus their creative interests in those crucial later transition years between primary and secondary education.
  2. Stepping Stones is a transitional music programme which offers a progression for 8 to 10 year olds from the musical foundations of Little Steps, Big Pathways. Stepping Stones has specific components aimed at developing the young person’s creative capacity and enjoyment of music.
  3. On the Road is a skills-based music programme with an emphasis on self-directed learning. Young people are encouraged to develop a focused approach to music, to experiment and to develop their own original material. This programme is a progression from Stepping Stones.
  4. Lines of Flight aims to encourage older teenagers to adopt leadership roles in the arts-based activities such as mentoring, assisting in facilitating music workshops and participating in planning the programme through placement with the Music Working Group.

Little Steps Big Pathways

A Foundational Music Programme for 5 to 8 Year Olds

Programme Profile

Children with a broad exposure to a range of artistic forms at this early stage are in a better position to focus their creative interests in those crucial later transition years between primary and secondary education. Little Steps, Big Pathways is a foundational Music Programme introducing 5 to 8 year olds to music making. The programme aims to enhance the imaginative, creative and musical capacities of young children.

RYP Music Programme


Music Lessons, Listening and Responding, Performance & Literacy, Music Appreciation, Introduction to a Variety of Instruments.


Acoustic evenings, Music Circles & participation in the Big Bang Festival.


Awareness of musical forms through listening-based processes, Improved literacy skills, Improved listening skills, Introduction to Instruments, Enhanced imaginative capabilities.

Stepping Stones

A Transitional Music Programme for 8 to 10 Year Olds

Programme Profile

Stepping Stones is a transitional programme offering musical progression for 8 to 10 year olds to more form-specific work. Specific components form a curriculum aimed at developing creative capacity and application in music. Key components for Stepping Stones are delivered through structured individual and group Music Lessons and Music Circles, both conducted on a weekly basis. In Music Circles interaction with older young people is strongly encouraged, enhancing a sense of musical progression.

RYP Music Programme


Individual & Group Sessions, Ensemble Playing, Peer Learning, Introduction to: Song writing & Co-Writing, to Rhythm & Verbal Accompaniment, Performance / Stage Skills & Presence, Singing, Keyboard, Guitar, Bass, Standard Notation, Classical & Popular Pieces, Encouraging Practice, Introduction to self-directing work.


City centre workshops & showcase events, Recording Studio visits, Participation in The Big Sparkle &The Big Bang. Building on established regular showcases such as: Acoustic Sessions, Local Community Festivals, Music Clubs & Gigs.


Identification of focus / interest in chosen music form, Basic creative skills acquired in range of musical forms, Performance experience via community / public events, Confidence in creative musical expression, Identification with musical / creative self, Greater capacity to work individually & collectively, Greater responsibility & connection to the programme, Appreciation of importance of coming to lessons and of practice.

On the Road

A Skills-Oriented Music Programme for 11 to 14 Year Olds

Programme Profile

This skills-based music programme emphasises self-directed learning. Young people are encouraged to take a more focused approach to music making, experimenting with original material. The focus is on skill acquisition, introducing new technical elements. There are two key structures: Music Circles and Music Lessons. Music Circles create a jamming space. The teenagers in On The Road are introduced to the Jammers Space, which is a weekly music space for Older Teenagers as part of Lines of Flight.

RYP Music Programme


Lesson Planning, Guitar Lessons, Scales, Chords & Theory, Notation: Standard & Tab, Preparation for Junior Certificate Practicals, Song Writing & Song Work Shopping, Composition, Bass, Keyboards, Percussion, Performance: Staged / Phased, Recording.


Local performances at key points in the programme such as Acoustic Sessions & yearly concerts in Dolphin and Fatima. Showcases are crucial for experiencing live performance & contribute enormously to community understanding of RYP’s approach to arts development. Events include: Music Clubs, Acoustic Sessions, The Big Sparkle, Summer Festivals / PA Mics and Music Club.


Enhanced skills in chosen musical forms, Enhanced performance skills via a range of community / public events, More robust identification with artistic/musical self, More independence and commitment to the particular Music Form.

Lines of Flight

A Music Leadership Programme for Older Teenagers

Programme Profile

In Lines of Flight, The Jammers is for older teenagers and young adults with a dedicated interest in music. Its key principle is participation and skills like stagecraft are developed as well as confidence in performance. Music is also explored as a vehicle to critically engage young people in addressing educational, social, cultural and economic inequalities. Using Ground Control as a learning platform for mentoring and performance, we focus on self-directed learning, developing musical artistry and original works and fostering leadership capacity.

RYP Music Programme


Vocational Development, Support for Training, Guitar, Percussion, Introduction to Exams For Popular Music Programme, Song Writing Workshops, Recording: Introduction to Software, Introduction to Music Production.


For both Encounter and Showcase opportunities such as the Spirit Building Workshop Series & the F2 Centre Music Clubs, which facilitate encounters with musicians, support young people to engage with their passion for music and provide somewhere to enjoy the social space for music.


Enhanced capacity in different elements of music and performance, Enhanced capacity among Youth Leaders in music-based programme planning and delivery, Leadership model for young people participating in community-based music practice, Increased levels of access to third level arts education.

our critics speak!

Where & When

The RYP Music Programme has formally existed for a number of years. In 2004 experiments began with voice and singing, moving to interest based groups with young people. The Homework Clubs started working with different musical forms from percussion to guitar and keyboard. By 2006 guitar and keyboard music lessons were established in Dolphin and Fatima Homework Clubs. This Music for Me Programme was supported by Common Ground, a local arts organisation. Lessons continue today as a foundation for the overall programme, engaging approximately 40 children and young people weekly. The Rialto Jammers was established as a participatory jamming space for young people who were either attending instrument lessons or showing a keen interest in music. Children, young people and adults can perform and engage with local musical talent and invited guest musicians through the Rialto Music Club. The Music Working Group has developed a programme architecture with clear progression routes that support and encourage young people’s interest and engagement with music. A recent initiative such as Ground Control for older teenagers encourages a broader distribution of young people’s work through recording and documentary processes. Relationships have been established with Kylemore Music School towards creating new pathways for young people interested in pursuing further music education.

Rialto Youth Project Music Programme

Key Values


Voice in Society

We are committed to being a great place to find your voice and gain the confidence to let your voice be heard beyond the local, in the wider society and within spaces where decisions are made.


Working with Young People Where They’re At

We believe in working with young people where they’re at. This requires flexibility and creativity. Our programme can change to meet the needs of the person rather than the other way around.


Choice and Opportunity

We believe in offering real choices to young people and supporting them to make choices that are right for them. We’re committed to creating possibilities for young people to access life opportunities and to grow within their community.



We engage, empower and support young people to build their own capacity. We believe in self-empowerment and working to empower young people. We believe in young people’s capacity to make good decisions and transcend imposed limits.

RYP Music Programme

I was so moved to hear the stories, told indirectly through song, over years in some cases. I hear voices growing, modes of expression becoming ever more complex and then maturing to simplicity once more. Some are no longer on the programme and I’m so glad they got the chance to have a go. As we all know, those “seed moments” from early childhood can even get you up off the ground many years after they happened: none of this has been wasted time.                                              

Mark Ellison, Musician & Facilitator RYP Music Programme




Programme Coordination

The Rialto Youth Project’s Music Programme is coordinated by the Music Programme Working Group, which is made up of 4 Youth Workers and 2 musicians. This Working Group meets twice monthly to plan, develop and review the programme. In addition to coordinating the Arts Working Groups, the Arts Team Co-ordinators meet weekly to ensure a shared approach to planning and reviewing the RYP Arts Programme.

The Rialto Youth Project’s Information Management System (IMS) assists in the Music Programme planning and review. The Information Management System stores Individual Learning Plans (ILPs) for every young person from 10 years of age upwards. It also stores Programme Session Sheets, Summaries and the Logic Model Planning Tool. These tools enable us to plan and develop the Music Programme with young people. The IMS also allows us to extract quantitative and qualitative data, enabling us to plan and support our work from a strong evidence base.

Rialto Youth Project and the Arts

The RYP Music Programme is one of 5 core developmental arts programmes. RYP is also engaged in many long-term collaborative arts projects, seasonal festivals, performance events / exhibitions and conferences that attract hundreds of local participants and multiple audiences city-wide and nationally. There is also an active EU and International dimension to key aspects of the work of RYP and the Rialto Arts Plan (2012 – 2016). The Rialto Arts Plan sets out a vision for a new and innovative model of local arts development, to be delivered through key strategic partnerships organised at local, city and national level.


Nichola Mooney

Rialto Youth Project,
St. Andrew’s Community Centre,
468 South Circular Road,
Dublin 8.

P: (01) 4531638
E: Nichola