Dr Majella Boland is an experienced music educator with knowledge across all sectors of the music education system. She has taught individual and group piano as well as theory in Walton’s School of Music, has been a member of the Sandford Park School piano faculty, and has also taught the Leaving Certificate music curriculum. She has lectured keyboard harmony and musicianship in UCD where she also mentored musicianship and keyboard harmony tutors. She has lectured theory and analysis in UCD and has set and marked the 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. From 2020 to 2022, Majella was the Music Development Officer for Music Generation dlr.
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 & 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 exam publications, as well as training and working with examiners. During her time as Senior Examiner, Majella compiled and analysed exam statistics, which facilitated her making significant contributions in support of music educators: she introduced editing the junior piano albums with performance directions (2016); she introduced the grace period for RIAM exams (2017); she founded ‘The Musicianship Clinic’ (2018); she added and compiled the section ‘General Theory’ to syllabuses to address common theory pitfalls in exams (2019); and having worked with RIAM instrumental staff, RIAM Local Centre examiners and teachers, she restructured and reformatted 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 conferences, exploring possibilities for collaboration between exam boards and academia to strengthen links between practice and research. In the capacity of Development Officer for Music Generation dlr, Majella worked closely with all members of the community with particular focus on socio-economically disadvantaged areas. She also collaborated with scientists and musicians for science week 2021, delivering an event to post-primary senior cycle students, where she explored the narrative around music and science, calling for both disciplines to be treated equally.
Majella is a strong advocate of research, which she continues through MLI. 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. She has written for Oxford University Press Blog, revised the John Field entry for Oxford Music Online, 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 in conjunction with conferences and briefing sessions, she has delivered over thirty presentations nationally and internationally, including addressing students at the 2020 SMI Postgraduate Careers Forum about PhD transferable skills in careers beyond academia. Through MLI, Majella continues to liaise with the music education research community. She undertook 3 surveys for private music teachers, music examiners, and 2nd-level teachers, results of which she hopes will provide greater insight to music in these contexts and which she looks forward to sharing with music educators in Ireland.
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 teaching, lecturing, designing modules and syllabuses, examining, examiner and tutor training, research, 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 3rd instrument, the cello, a decision which has enhanced her understanding of the student learning experience and the value of musicianship when learning an instrument.