Happy New Year from The Music Rooms

We are SUPER excited about what lies ahead in this new year… but it would be wrong to move on without passing comment on what an absolute belter of a year we had in 2017.

And we really did! When we look back over the year it’s hard to believe that we managed to cram in so many amazing achievements…

#1 Amazing Students

It goes without saying that at The Music Rooms we teach some exceptionally talented young people. Our hard working students are what it’s all about and we are lucky enough to also see some of them achieve fantastic results in their music exams. Well done to each and every one of you… we couldn’t be more proud!

#2 Dedicated Teachers

And of course we have our amazing staff are to thank for bringing so much joy and magic to each and every lesson. We have a huge catalogue of very happy students at The Music Rooms and we couldn’t achieve this without your enthusiasm and dedication.

We have also been lucky enough to expand this past year and have had some more super talented teachers join our team. A huge Welcome to our newest members!

#3 Charity Gig

We delivered yet another knockout performance at our Music Rooms Charity gig. And with a record attendance too! This event is very close to the heart of The Music Rooms and could not be made possible without the relentless efforts of both students and teachers alike. Thank you to everyone who took part and made it such a brilliant night.

#4 The Voice Auditions

Testament to our success… In June ITV came to The Music Rooms to host auditions for The Voice UK. This was massively exciting for us… check out the new show which starts this Saturday 6th January!

#5 Future Star

In September we gained a future star student… and Rodneys World shone even brighter. Congratulations to Rodney and Sinead on the birth of beautiful baby Lucas. What a cracker! We’ll keep a special spot reserved in Junior Jammers just for him 😉

#6 New Branch

And then we grew our premises too… a shiny new Music Rooms branch based in Coleraine. We have been so excited to expand our network of schools across Northern Ireland and share our passion for learning and teaching music. A huge thank you for all the support we received on our new venture.

#8 Christmas Single

And what an incredible ending to such a wonderful year?! Our very own Music Rooms Christmas Single. We had SO much fun recording this. And we even managed to make the News!! What a proud moment for the whole team 🙂


2017 has been awesome. Keep up the amazing work everyone! And thank you again for making The Music Rooms such a joy to be a part of 🙂

Music for Happiness

As we make the move into winter… with shorter daylight hours and less sociable weather conditions, it is important to remember the things that help to keep our spirits up during these cold, dark months.

music for happiness


There are many of us who struggle through the colder seasons, and scientific evidence suggests that higher production of the hormone melatonin, due to minimal daylight exposure, actually causes lethargy and symptoms of depression.

Most people who have experienced the Winter Blues will be aware of the basic lifestyle habits that can help to alleviate these symptoms of seasonal affective disorder.

It also goes without saying that Music as a remedy to any bleak period in life can work wonders to improve your frame of mind. Studies have officially found levels of the mood-enhancing chemical dopamine to be up to 9% higher in response to periods of peak musical enjoyment.

With this in mind, The Music Rooms has compiled a list of 5 fundamentals to boosting Happiness… with the added benefit of how and why you should incorporate music into these daily practises

#1 Direction & Productivity

Set goals, write lists, be productive either within your career or personal life… listening to classical music or music without lyrics can actually improve productivity, making repetitive tasks more enjoyable. And in noisy open-office environments, music has proven as an escape with overwhelmingly positive results on workload.

music for work

#2 Awareness/ Mindfulness

The addition of music to your meditation or mindfulness practise can help you to stay focused, while simultaneously helping you to connect with music as a source of strength and energy. Music can be a powerful way to experience the present moment. Allowing you to dilute your stress levels.

music for mindfulness

#3 Keeping Active

Health and fitness are common mood boosters. But exercise in either Summer OR Winter can require some serious motivation… and what better way to motivate than by listening to music. Upbeat tempos can also distract the athlete from their bodily awareness, allowing the body to push itself physically further.

music for exercise

#4 Resilience & Bouncing Back

If you’re going through a tough period it can be difficult to see a way through it. When your brain is struggling to switch off and relax… Music, at a very basic level, is an excellent distraction. And at a more advanced level, music as a form of therapy can help you to regain a sense of connectedness emotional awareness.

music for resilience

#5 Trying New Things

Practising and making music can be a more powerful anti-depressant than prescribed medication or even a regular therapy alternative. Keeping the brain active and stepping outside of your comfort zone is another great distraction and the progress and feelings of achievement gained from a new skill such as music are unsurprisingly beneficial for shifting your frame of mind from negative to a more positive focus.

beginners guitar

Why not test it out for yourself?! Try listening to upbeat or ‘happy’ music everyday for at least a week and take note of any changes you experience in your mood.

Check out our Music for Happiness playlist. It makes us feel pretty chirpy anyway 😉

Awesome Halloween Music

halloween music 2

20 of the VERY BEST Halloween songs to add to your Halloween Music Playlist.

Pumpkins are carved. Faces are painted. Apples… bobbing. Tricks are prepped and treats are by the door.

Something Wicked this way comes… and we Dare even the Scroogiest of Halloween Scrooges not to do a little BOO-gy to some of these fright night classics.

Halloween Music at it’s absolute best…


Ghostbusters – Ray Parker Jr

Thriller – Michael Jackson

People are Strange – The Doors

Don’t Fear the Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult

Red Right Hand – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

This is Halloween – Marilyn Manson

Lotion – Greenkeepers

Cry Little Sister – The Lost Boys

The Killing Moon – Echo & The Bunnymen

Aisha – Death in Vegas

Never Let Me Down Again – Depeche Mode

1979 – The Smashing Pumpkins

Halloween – Misfits

Heads will roll – Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Dark Night – The Blasters

The Unheard Music – X

Bela Lagosis Dead – Chvrches

Frankenstein – Tokyo Police Club

Poison – Alice Cooper

Rock & Roll Queen – The Subways


Shadows of a thousand years rise again unseen. Voices Whisper in the Trees, Tonight is Halloween!






The Music Rooms Top Female Musicians

Recently I watched a documentary called So, which band is your boyfriend in? about the imbalance of gender equality in Music. 

the music rooms blog post


This isn’t something that tends to be at the forefront of our minds… after all we see plenty of Female artists dominating the charts, don’t we? Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, Adele… surely this is static proof of gender balance?!

If you scratch the surface, however, there is in fact a somewhat grim layer of sexism enveloping the music industry even today.

In a study conducted by Female Pressure an international collective of female artists, women comprise only 9.3% of artists listed on music label rosters.

This shocking data, if accurate, suggests that female presence in music is hugely overshadowed by male presence, to the sum of over 90%!!!

As a small show of solidarity to Women in the Music Industry… and in homage to our own female music teachers and students here at The Music Rooms, we have composed a list of our Top Inspirational Women in Music, in no particular order. 


Ellie Rowsell (Wolf Alice)

London born Ellie is the front woman (guitar & vocals) of the alternative rock group Wolf Alice. 

“There are and always has been a number of women in rock music to look up to and admire, but not nearly enough and I do feel we still have a long way to go in encouraging young girls to pick up a guitar or drumsticks and get involved in rock / alternative music.”


female musician



This 3 piece band of American Pop Rock Sisters insist that… “We’re a band. Not a girl band!” 


Icelandic artist Bjork has been described by some as a restlessly experimental creative force. 
She has recently written an open letter addressing the sexism she claims to have received, stating that female artists are criticised if they don’t “cut our chest open and bleed about the men in our lives.”


Sinead O’Connor 

Irish singer/ songwriter Sinead is said to have cut her hair off in response to male record executives who’d been trying to goad her into wearing miniskirts, into appearing more traditionally feminine.


Patti Smith

Nicknamed the “godmother of punk” and famed also for her work in Poetry and influences on bands such as U2 and Garbage. Admittedly not overly zealous about the feminist movement Smith says… “As far as I’m concerned being any gender is a drag”


Sleater Kinney

American Rock trio Sleater Kinney are renowned for their feminist and left-leaning political views.

“Culture is what we make it/ Yes it is/ Now is the time/ To invent it”


female musicians


Emily Haines (Metric)

Lead Singer, songwriter and keyboardist of the Canadian Rock band Metric.


“sadly I think it continues to be the case with women where as an artist you are only going to be compared with other women”


Australian singer-songwriter, producer and music video director… Sias refusal to be critiqued on her appearance has seen her perform live on Late Night with Seth Myers, lying face down on a bed as Lena Dunham danced around the stage.


Shirley Manson (Garbage) Singer, songwriter and lead vocalist of the rock band Garbage. Manson is known for her feminist views and rebellious attitude…

“I think any woman that breaks conventional rules, stereotyping, is fighting the good fight,”


Hats off to ALL Musicians. Men, Women, Children. Because gender equality is not a Woman issue, it’s a Human issue.


Guitar Tips For Beginners

From Hendrix to Van Halen… Guitarists are the ultimate musicians to strive towards.

beginners guitar

The appearance, the lifestyle, the talent and the ease with which the play. All things which inspire many to pick up a guitar in the first place.

But the beginning is a far cry from the blues of B.B. KING.

There are many things to consider before embarking on this musical quest. We’ve listed some of the most crucial below…

#1 – Getting the right size Guitar is an important place to start, especially for a child. If your guitar is too big your muscles will already be overworked just from stretching the arm over the guitar. This will make it considerably more difficult to practise playing chords.

#2 – Tuning your Guitar before you begin is just good sense, particularly for beginners. Playing on an out of tune guitar isn’t exactly motivating as you’re unlikely to recognise any improvements. Electronic tuners are inexpensive to buy, although it is a good idea to train your ear for perfect pitch if possible.

#3 – Like anything that involves exercising muscles, warming up is necessary. All guitarists do this, professionals included. Ask your tutor to run through some simple exercises you can practise at home or find some online.

#4 – It’s always beneficial to have professional lessons when learning to play the Guitar. But practicing ONLY in your lesson will make for extremely slow progress. For best results it is ideal to practise at home for at least 30 minutes per day.

#5 – Learning Guitar Theory is often considered the boring part… but it would be a mistake to avoid it. Learning your theory will teach you to understand what you’re playing and hearing. You will progress at a faster pace and also have the ability to write your own Music.

#6 – Every guitar player is guilty of wanting to play the songs they love the most. But practising the same songs repeatedly and avoiding fresh material, will stall the learning process. It is good practise to try your hand at playing new songs every couple of weeks. It might be helpful to keep track of your progress using a log. Ask your tutor to provide one of download a template for free online.

#7 – Practise playing songs at a slow pace. Playing too fast too soon will only lead to sloppy form.

#8 – Learning to play any instrument can be very frustrating, but it is also incredibly rewarding. You will need an abundance of patience. Keep in mind that is never a quick process. Don’t expect miracles… but progress WILL come with persistence.

#9 – For young beginners especially, incorporating a reward into the practise can be encouraging and relieve any build up of frustration. Speak to your tutor about designating 5-10 minutes of the lesson to playing an electric guitar, freestyling and generally blowing off a bit of steam.

For more advice on taking your first steps towards playing the Guitar contact The Music Rooms for a chat.

The Benefits of Music Lessons

Everybody knows that learning to play an instrument is hugely rewarding not to mention fun… but what about the other benefits of music lessons?!

playing the violin

… and there are MANY!!! We have listed just a few of them for you here…

#1 Academic – Research has found that practising to play an instrument increases IQ, creativity and the potential to develop in linguistics.

The brain is forced to work harder and this reflects in the development of skills in other areas too.

#2 Social – Group music activities create a sense of community. It also encourages team work and acceptance of cultural diversity.

#3 Patience – Learning to skilfully play an instrument takes time and discipline.

In a world where so much gratification is required instantly… it is important to teach children that patience, in music and in general, is most definitely a virtue.

#4 Self Confidence – Since there are no shortcuts in music lessons, students learn to accept criticism constructively and then experience the joy of improvement.

A sense of security in themselves is cultivated which translates to life as self-confidence.

#5 Illness – Music is, by nature , relaxing and has been proven to lower stress hormones.

It is an excellent combat for anxiety and depression in children, which are both sadly on the rise.

Not only can music lessons help target mental illness, they can also help to alleviate the trauma of some physical illnesses too…

guitar lessons

The benefits of music lessons are endless. What are you waiting for? Sign your little one up now!


Putting ‘Charity’ into our Music Rooms’ Charity Gig – Why? Part 2

Thanks for all the lovely feedback on part one of my blog. Aside from some (to be anticipated) cynicism from our local maestros, I think everyone got my point. I started a music school to try and give everyone with a love/desire or passion for music the opportunity to pursue it and I wanted to give them opportunities that I didn’t have. Opportunities to learn outside of the box and develop, by playing along with others. Our charity gig supports both of these ideas and makes them a reality.

Bringing charity into the ‘gig’ aspect made sense for me and my former business partner, John, when we first birthed the idea five years ago. Initially our motivation was a staff member who’s beautiful daughter was born with spina bifida, undetected in any pregnancy scans. We approached him and he said he wanted to give the money to the ward in the royal Victoria hospital that saved his daughter’s life. With the money we bought portable dvd players for all the beds in the ward so that the kids of the ward, who often endured some lengthy stays in hospital, had something to help them pass the time.

Fast forward the clock four years. I’m sitting in the Allen Ward of the Royal Victoria Hospital with my baby girl and a nurse brings in a DVD player. My daughter Mary loved her wee dvd player at home and we quickly rigged it up. I suddenly realised where that DVD player had come from.



I filled with emotion and was bursting with pride all at the same time. Not because of something I’d done, because of something every single person had done by purchasing a ticket and attending the event that night.

Everyone knows the story of what eventually played out with my beautiful baby. Many of you have walked the journey with me, cried with me and supported me immeasurably. Last year’s charity gig was in her memory. It was the only focus I could use to effectively get through the night without a complete breakdown. This year she will be remembered too as we support two charities, one that gave her a life fit for a queen – The NI Children’s Hospice and one that would have given her every opportunity possible had she lived beyond 27 Feb 2016 – The RNIB.

Not many people know, Mary was registered blind. Seems crazy that she loved her DVD player and we often debated the subject with the doctors but her diagnosis was complete blindness. The Music Rooms have for the past six years worked very closely with the RNIB and seen first-hand the opportunities they give to children and adults with partial or complete sight loss. The NI Children’s Hospice is a ‘must’ for children and the families of children with life limiting illnesses. Mary spent her final days here and we spent many happy times here as a family throughout her short life as she was given respite. This year we are supporting both these wonderful charities through our ticket sales and raffle on the night.

Isn’t it amazing that the proceeds from the charity gig back in 2012 eventually came back full circle? I am not going to try and distance myself from this event being personal. It always has been for me. Yet this isn’t a plea or a cry out for sympathy. This is the reality of how supporting these events can actually make a difference. Your support last year made the lives of some extremely sick children a lot better. We have booked out the whole theatre this year. Help us fill it. In return we will give you a night to remember.

For tickets visit www.wegottickets.com/event/401548 or call the Braid on 02825635077.

The Music Rooms Charity Gig – Why? – Part 1

I grew up with two passions in life. The first was football and the second was music. When Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs and eventually even Ballymena didn’t come in to sign me, I realised that I needed to focus my attentions elsewhere.

Rodney Beggs, The Music Rooms



Music initially didn’t happen for me at school as it does for many others. I got overlooked because I wasn’t ‘properly trained’. The school orchestra needed a drummer, I went along, played the piece but I couldn’t read the music – so I wasn’t good enough. The song they were playing was a march – I could play a march with my eyes closed, and did so that day – but I was rejected.

I continued to pursue music on my own outside of school – In church, in bands, with friends and by teaching myself. We practiced in church halls, garages, old hen houses and played the odd gig, looking back we sounded shocking at the start but the key was we stayed together and we played together.

I went on to teach myself the guitar and as I became more confident started to sing. I walked out of my first job as I wasn’t willing to be walked over by terrible management, and terrifyingly went home to my parents to tell them. This wasn’t the done thing. On the way home that day I called a friend and asked him if he could get me a gig. I needed something to go home to tell my parents, some sort of a plan.

I got a gig that Friday night in Gillies at the Galgorm Resort and Spa. I spent the week learning a set and played my first solo gig that Friday evening and this time got paid for it. That was 14 years ago.


Throughout these past 14 years I identified that there had to be other kids who are rejected and overlooked by musical snobbery. There are others who have untapped potential that needs unlocking. So I decided I was going to teach them. I was going to take the ability they had, use the music they love and get them to play together with others. Firstly they played with me and maybe another student as we weren’t very big in our operation.

But then my best mate and I started The Music Rooms and we made sure that students would have an opportunity to perform in front of people and play along with others. It was this experience that gave me the confidence to pursue music further, playing with my mates since I was 14, playing a load of nervous gigs with them and trembling at my first solo gig when I was 21, but it shaped me.

For the past four years we have been giving our students the chance to do just that. There was nothing around like this when I was growing up and perhaps If there was I’d have tried less on becoming the next George Best and more on becoming the next George Harrison.

We have sold out the ground floor of The Braid Arts Centre the past two years and this year we have booked out the whole theatre. That’s 400 seats. I can guarantee you will be amazed by the talent on show and will come away entertained and blessed by some wonderful students – young and old. Check out the pics to see just how well we got on last year.

For tickets tel visit www.wegottickets.com/event/401548 or tel The Braid Arts Centre – 02825635077


Music Exams

Let’s face it. No one really likes exams, they can be scary. And music exams are no different. Luckily Music Rooms’ student Amber Monahan is here to give us her advice for practising for and taking music exams.

music exams



To prepare for exams it’s best to practise as much as possible. Try to practise every day even if only for a short time.

Practise the parts you find difficult instead of the parts you like or even try the piece as a whole. The only way to improve is to correct mistakes and make sure the piece is at a standard you are happy with.

Practise for fun. It will seem less of a chore and will enhance your ability. If you find you are not enjoying playing that much, try to make it fun by finding songs you like.

Perform for people at every opportunity. You will find it becomes easier the more often you do this and you will be less nervous in the exam. You will be less aware of the examiner and more able to concentrate.



Wake up early before your exam to go over your pieces. You will feel more confident if you are prepared and warmed up.

Choose your session skill based on what you are best at. If you are good under pressure and can learn quickly I would suggest the playback option. If you are creative and can think quickly I would suggest improvisation.


It’s not as bad as you think

The examiners are really friendly and they want you to do well. It sometimes helps to remember this.

Always try to stay calm. Even if the exam goes badly you are able to retake it. With this in mind you should be able to keep the nerves at bay as even if something does go wrong you can relax knowing that you will always be able to take the exam again.




Buying a musical instrument for a child

The Music Rooms’ Guide to buying a musical instrument for a child

It’s a big decision and can be a large expenditure of money, but getting the right instrument and making sure you get value for money is not as easy as you might think.

There are many places to go to purchase a musical instrument. Either in person at department stores, music shops and even toy shops or online from a host of sellers.

When it comes to actual physical stores there are many options and a world of difference in the quality you can expect.


Buying a musical instrument for a child is an important purchase

buying a musical instrument for a child

As music professionals at The Music Rooms you might think we are being biased towards proper music stores, but our passion comes from developing musical talent and in many cases instruments from non-musical stores make it very hard for young students to learn properly. Actually making the job of learning more difficult.

Music is not the speciality of these shops and as music is a specialised pastime, it’s only natural that they can fall short. 

Buying a musical instrument for a child from a toy shop or general department store can be a false economy. On one hand it seems you are getting a cheap instrument from a well known store. But unfortunately if you buy a musical instrument from a toy shop, you are really buying a toy.

These instruments can be hard to play and probably won’t stay in tune. You will more than likely end up buying a proper instrument anyway as you watch your child’s musical development being held back – making your overall spend much more than it should be.

buying a child a musical instrument

If you are thinking of going down the online route when buying a musical instrument for your child, our advice would be to go for a music retailer.

But bear in mind that the major downside of purchasing online is that you have no way of seeing the quality of the instrument and indeed playing it.

While online shopping has revolutionised the way we shop, some items really lend themselves to holding, using and seeing in person before buying, which is why your local music shop is great.

If you do decide to go online, go for a music shop selling on the web and not a toy shop or department store selling online. This way is the quality will be assured, with reputable music shops taking pride in sourcing quality instruments.

We have lost count of the times people have come in to The Music Rooms to buy a guitar or drum kit to replace the “cheap” one they got online or in a toy shop which just wasn’t right.


“Having the proper musical instrument will mean a lot to your child’s musical development, we would urge you to spend a little extra in getting them the instrument that is right.”


Local Music Shop Plus Points

  • Proper musical instruments – giving your child the best chance to learn
  • Aftercare available – if you need help after you purchase, staff will be happy to help
  • Professional musicians behind the till – the advice is free!
  • Can arrange lessons for the instrument
  • Ability to trade up once your child outgrows the beginner instrument or 
  • Quality instruments sourced

Your local music shop will place an emphasis on both quality and price. They can advise and arrange lessons. They can repair your instrument if needed and also take your instrument as a trade in.

You may also be surprised that the price of a properly designed musical instrument which is fit for purpose isn’t much more than the toy. This is money well spent in our opinion.

We love music, we want to promote music and make make music fun for everyone, so hopefully this is helpful in choosing where and how to buy your instrument.


Call us today to discuss purchasing an instrument or drop in to our shop to chat.


If you liked this, you might also find our post on Buying a Guitar for a Beginner helpful.