The Society for Music Education in Ireland (SMEI) was established in June 2010 following extensive consultation and correspondence, and a series of planning meetings during 2009 and early 2010. The first meeting took place against the background of the 6th Annual Symposium on the Sociology of Music Education, held in Limerick, Ireland, July 2009. INA status was granted in August 2010, and immediately afterwards representatives of the group held a meeting at the ISME World Conference in Beijing.
SMEI’s first annual national conference took place in November 2010. The day-long event included the first general meeting of the organisation in which the constitution was ratified by a wider membership. The initial committee was elected to continue its work until the first AGM scheduled for May 2011. Officers of the committee were also formally ratified at this meeting. The annual conference also featured several research papers, a showcase event involving young brass players, and an interactive community music workshop. Overall turnout was in the region of 50 participants despite adverse weather conditions at the time. Several messages of support and goodwill were received from music educators nationwide, while greetings from ISME members the world over helped situate the SMEI event within the broader international context and network.
The SMEI committee took on a national advocacy role in January-February 2011 following a draft report published by Ireland’s Department of Education and Skills in which it was proposed, inter alia, to reduce curricular time allocated to music and other arts areas in order to allow more time for the development of literacy and numeracy skills. SMEI submitted a response to this report, contesting the bases of its primary arguments, and re-affirming the centrality of music and the arts in holistic education. The SMEI response was also circulated to all group and individual members.