Sounds Good! Summer Camp

It was the summer of 2009...

The Black-Eyed Peas had reached No. 1 in the UK charts with "I Gotta Feeling".

Cinemas were full of film-loving kids queuing to see "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" and buying popcorn for "Ice Age: Dawn of Dinosaurs".

Meanwhile, many grown-ups were mourning Michael Jackson's sudden death and were piling into cinema screens for Oscar-winning film "Hurt Locker".

2009 was also the summer a 19 year-old Michael T. Dawson set up a new music camp for kids.

“Thanks for you all, Elliot had a fab week and will remember his trip to the recording studio for years to come!! So proud of all the guys and girls today [at the Recital]. They were fantastic! Would recommend SOUNDS GOOD to all my friends and their kids. Thanks!” - Lorna (Parent)

Eleven years on, the camp has introduced hundreds of kids to the fun world of music-making. Many of these kids have gone on to pursue music tuition at Fingal Academy of Music, have completed Leaving Cert Music, and are now pursuing music as grown-ups themselves.

In 2009, Michael was quoted in the national media:

'Every child has the capability to sing and perform. All they need is confidence and a little coaching, which is what this camp hopes to provide.'

This focus on accessibility has been key to the growth of Sounds Good!. The team has a strongly-held belief that music is for everyone. Nobody is unmusical and everyone can enjoy making music. There are lots of different ways to get involved with music and it doesn't matter how young you are, whether you already know an instrument, or what language you speak.

There is a wealth of research demonstrating how the study of music can benefit a child's learning, health and happiness. Here are just a few reasons we love teaching music!

  1. Playing music improves memory - Memorisation is an important aspect of musical learning and aids neurological development

  2. Music helps develop language and reasoning skills - The part of the brain that deals with language and reason also deals with music

  3. Increased coordination - Making music is like sports in that it can improve motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

  4. Students develop higher standards in their work - Learning music requires practice, so it rewards students who hone their craft.

  5. Music students learn self discipline - Every day, time must be set aside for practice. Kids must exercise self-discipline to master their instrument.

  6. Students have better exam results scores - Studies have shown that students who have a musical education score higher in exams.

  7. Making music builds teamwork - In much the same way as sports, music teaches children the value of teamwork and collaboration. Kids who perform in orchestras or bands learn to work together during rehearsals and performances. They inevitably build strong friendships along the way.

  8. A strong sense of accomplishment - Even the smallest piece of music leaves a student proud of their accomplishments.

  9. Music develops creative thinking - Children who study the arts learn to think creatively. This will help them address problems without apparent solutions and consider multiple approaches when faced with a challenge.

  10. Music develops a child’s imagination and intellectual curiosity - Teaching children music while they are young helps create a positive attitude towards learning.


The safety of our students and our staff is of utmost importance to us.

In light of the COVID pandemic, our summer camps will include some additional obligations in order to ensure a safe and happy environment for all involved.

We will facilitate hourly hand-washing and all musical activities throughout the camp will be delivered according to official regulations.

We are committed to providing a fulfilling, friendly and fun camp to all of our students, and are very much looking forward to getting started.

Our summer camps are expected to go ahead this year, subject to the latest available advice from the government and other relevant authorities.

We are in the process, in collaboration with our COVID officer, of making a clear set of guidelines for hosting a series of fun and educational music camps, and the guidelines are under very regular review.

Due to the ever-changing nature of the situation, and the associated Governmental advice, we will continue to monitor events nationally and internationally and we will modify our guidelines on an ongoing basis in compliance with all safety requirements.

In the event that a camp needs to be cancelled, relevant fees will be refunded.

The dates for the 2020 camps are:

BALBRIGGAN 20 - 24 JULY 2020 & 27 - 31 JULY 2020

MALAHIDE 10 - 14 AUGUST 2020

Since 2009, we have been running our Sounds Good! Music camps and we’ve loved every minute of it. Our team's experience comes from a variety of community music activities, choral training and pedagogical research.

In recent months, children all across Ireland - and the world - have been missing their friends, yearning for social activities and searching for fun activities to keep them occupied and learning!

Sarah thoroughly enjoyed the camp and the great mixture of singing, songwriting, introduction to instruments and games… Many thanks again for a fun-filled week.” - Nina (Parent)

This year, parents have been working so hard to juggle all the new and diverse challenges of 2020. We want to take a moment to doff our caps and salute all you parents for your patience, resilience and creativity over the past few months.

Always I could see caring and positivity and encouragement, really enjoying music from all leaders in very busy group of children with different ages and personalities and interests. Well done, thanks again!” - Laura (parent)

Staying inside seven days a week due to an enforced lockdown, with only momentary outdoor breaks, inevitably brings its own frustrations.

In Sounds Good, we have planned a creative and playful programme of activities in a safe and responsible environment, and our team cannot wait to celebrate music with all the children!

“ Thank you so much for everything you did for my son! He came out of his shell so much this week” - Deirdre (Parent)

In 2017, children on the "Sounds Good Music Summer Camp had the opportunity to record in Windmill Lane Recording Studios, one of the most iconic studios in the world. During the 2018 summer camp, Camp Director Dónal Kearney told the Fingal Independent:

'We love encouraging children to make music. Writing a song is all about the process, the skills and the relationships that the children build in that process. Indeed, previous camp participants have recorded their own albums of original songs. No doubt it's the start of a prolific portfolio for many of the young songwriters we work with, and a fond memory to look back on.'

Sounds Good! has an exciting history of musical experiences. Each camp is different and depends on the trending pop songs of the time. Unfortunately, the Sounds Good! Easter camp was cancelled this year due to Covid-19.

However, the dates have been set (all going well) for Sounds Good! Summer Camp 2020.

The camp team will be working hard to ensure extra precautions are in place in response to the public health risks caused by Covid-19 (detailed above).

'My daughter loved going to camp each morning. The final recital was very impressive and showed us all the hard work put in by everyone.'

Over the years, the kids have worked with lots of professional music educators, all of whom brought a range of skills and experience to each camp. This year is no different.

The team at the Irish Institute of Music & Song will be working hard to ensure every child and family feels welcome and safe during this year's summer camps.

“I could see how caring and organised you all were. My girls loved it!” - Tatiana (Parent)

Dónal Kearney has been Camp Director since 2016. Dónal has been a vocal coach with National Youth Choirs of Northern Ireland Youth Choirs, National Youth Choirs of Great Britain, and is a certified Community Music Leader with Musicians Without Borders. He has performed in sixteen countries across three continents and has recorded internationally - from Tokyo to California.

Sarah May Rogers has been successfully running camps in Balbriggan for years. She is a multi-instrumentalist who teaches piano, violin, ukulele, tin whistle guitar, singing and musicianship. She loves bringing her wealth of international performance experience to her work as an inspirational educator for kids during Sounds Good!

Lea Försterling holds a MA in Arts Policy & Practice from NUIG. She studied singing under Virginia Kerr and Regina Nathan at RIAM, toured the world with the Maynooth University Chamber Choir, and has been a member of other acclaimed ensembles, including ANÚNA. She loves teaching piano and singing at Fingal Academy of Music.

Rebecca Gilbert is a talented multi-instrumentalist, conductor, arranger and teacher. She puts her knowledge of child development together with her passion for music education to deliver Pre-Instrumental music lessons and Sing to Your Baby classes. She is a founder member of both Lady Barbalade and Honey Tones, Ireland's top Barbershop Quartets, and is the founding Director of Blingmasters, Ireland's highest ever scoring Barbershop Chorus. She loves getting kids singing, no matter how young!

Michael T Dawson has studied the very latest ideas in educational theory while completing his Doctoral studies at University of Southern California. He brings all this amazing knowledge to these insanely fun music camps!

All kids on the camp are encouraged to:

  • Bring your instrument along with you, if you play one already.

  • Bring a packed lunch, including a drink each day along

  • Sun cream, should we go outdoors on a nice day

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