Dr Majella Boland is an experienced music educator with knowledge across all sectors of the music education system. She taught individual and group piano as well as theory in Walton’s School of Music and has also taught Leaving Certificate music to students taking it as an extra subject. She currently lectures keyboard harmony and musicianship in UCD where also mentors musicianship and keyboard harmony tutors. She has also lectured theory and analysis in UCD and has set and marked Bachelor of Music university entrance exams. Majella has been a member of the external panel of examiners for group piano at Maynooth University as well as a marking assistant on musicology modules. She lectured harmony in TCD during which period she was nominated lecturer of excellence and has also taught musicology in both St Patrick’s College DCU and UCD. Recently, Majella joined the piano faculty of the Sandford Park School Music Department.
Majella has in-depth experience with private music exam systems operating within Ireland; she has taught both the ABRSM and RIAM theory and piano syllabuses. In 2013, she became a marker for the RIAM theory and harmony exams, joining the RIAM instrumental examining panel in 2014. In conjunction with these roles, she recently held the position of Senior Examiner (2015–19) which included project managing RIAM publications, as well as training and working with examiners. During her time as Senior Examiner, Majella made significant contributions in support of music educators: in 2016 she introduced editing the junior piano albums with performance directions; in 2017 she introduced the grace period for RIAM exams; in 2018 she founded ‘The Musicianship Clinic’; in 2019 she added and compiled the section ‘General Theory’ to syllabuses to address common theory pitfalls in exams; and having worked with RIAM instrumental staff, RIAM Local Centre examiners and teachers, she restructured the syllabus to enhance its usability as well as the exam experience.
Majella combines her research and music education background to explore approaches to improve education services. She has spoken on the benefits of musicianship in music teaching at the RIAM Teaching & Learning Network conferences, as well as the role of a syllabus versus a curriculum in music tuition. She has liaised with postgraduate students pursuing various aspects of research about Irish music education including exams as goals, standardisation, different types of music making, and exam statistics. At the Society for Music Education in Ireland (SMEI) conferences Majella has discussed the gaps between the various music education sectors and the role and responsibility of an exam system in music education; she also discussed the role of musicology in shaping a music syllabus at a Society for Musicology in Ireland (SMI) conference, exploring possibilities for collaboration between sectors to strengthen links between practice and research.
Majella’s work in music education is grounded in musicology. In 2013, she was awarded a PhD from UCD, specialising in nineteenth-century piano music, in particular on John Field’s piano concerti. In the same year she was a recipient of the Louise Dyer award for her work related to music in Britain. She has been Honorary Secretary and member of council of the SMI, a council that addresses issues concerning music as an academic discipline nationally and internationally. She has written for Oxford University Press Blog, contributed chapters and articles to books, journals, and encyclopaedias, has written book and CD reviews, co-edited the postgraduate journal The Musicology Review, was founding editor of the SMI Newsletter, and has been commissioned to write programme notes for the highly-acclaimed concerts run by The Music Network. She has chaired and sat on the organising committee of a number of musicology conferences and has featured on the award-winning radio documentary Last Thoughts (a documentary about John Field) as well as on other radio documentaries about the composer and about music education in Ireland that featured on Lyric FM. Majella has been invited guest lecturer at university musicology seminar series around Ireland and has delivered presentations at over twenty conferences nationally and internationally.
Majella is passionate about teaching and music education and founded Music Literary Ireland (MLI) to bring together a diverse and quality music education experience in one platform, as well as to strengthen lines of communication between sectors. Her workshops are underpinned by experience in research, teaching, lecturing, examining, examiner and tutor training, and arts administration. Through MLI, Majella’s goal is to support teachers to be their best professionally, to contribute to music education on a national level, and to work towards standardisation in music education. In August 2015, Majella decided to take up a 2nd instrument, the cello, a decision which has enhanced her understanding of the student learning experience and the value of musicianship when learning an instrument; she is currently on grade 6.