Cross Border Orchestra of Ireland & Louth Leader – Leaders in Music Education

Count Us In is supported by Louth Leader Partnership

Count Us In  is a FREE instrumental tuition programme for young people aged between 8 and 12 years.

Free music lessons are offered in Violin, Cello, Double Bass, Clarinet, Trumpet and Trombone.

The programme is suitable for beginners but may also be of interest to young people who have a foundation in piano.

Participants are provided with an instrument on loan and free weekly group lessons.


Expert Tutors work with our CUI students

Count Us In is a pioneering project modelled on the Venezuelan system of music education which is regarded as the best in the world.

It is based on group tuitionas research shows that young people are more receptive to learning and more motivated in a group situation especially when they are part of a committed team who strive together to achieve excellence.

All children and teens should have the opportunity to take music lessons and experience the social, emotional, and academic benefits that come from learning an instrument, particularly in a group setting.

The CBOI has been involved in music education for almost 26 years, and is in a unique position in that musicians trained under ‘Count Us In’ can go on to become members of the Orchestra.

We are delighted to have 53 teenagers participating in our Count Us In programme

By being part of this amazing organisation, members develop a great sense of achievement, self-confidence and ambition; and experience the enormous pride that comes with being a valued part of a successful, dedicated team.

COUNT US IN JUNE 21 UPDATE: The 53 young musicians who are taking part in our FREE music education programme have also been engaged in on-line learning since March 2020. They are Each members receives a free instrument on loan and free group lessons. Lessons are given in Violin, Cello, Double Bass, Clarinet, Trumpet and Trombone. Despite the disruption caused by COVID-19, these young musicians have continued to make great progress and the programme is a huge success in terms of delivering quality music education.


SAFETY: Safety measures are currently being put in place at the Coláiste Chu Chulainn in accordance with Government guidelines. We will do everything possible to ensure the safety of our members and families. Orchestra members and families should take note of the following:

  1. If you are unwell or displaying any symptoms of Covid-19 stay at home.
  2. The school is well supplied with hand sanitisers which must be used on arrival and after touching any surface.  We also advise all Members to bring their own hand sanitiser and use it regularly.
  3. MEDILINK: A Team from MediLink will attend to check everybody’s temperature on arrival and make sure all safety procedures are in place and being adhered to.
  4. CONTACT TRACKING: For contact tracing purposes, a register of everybody attending including contact details must be held by us and a copy given to the school Principal after each rehearsal. Everybody who comes into the building must be registered. For this reason, and to keep numbers below 100, parents are asked NOT to come into the school. (An exception will be made for new parents and members attending the introductory meeting  at 11am on Sunday 11th Oct.)
  5. SOCIAL DISTANCING should be maintained at all times. You are advised to: limit your contact with others during breaks, keep your close contacts to a small number of people. The 2 meter rule will be adhered to in rehearsals and lessons.
  6. MASKS & VISORS: Woodwind and Brass players should wear a mask when they are not playing e.g. on arrival and departure and during breaks. Everybody else must wear a mask at all times. TUTORS: Are advised to wear masks and visors. If it is possible for musicians, you should also wear a visor.
  7. SCREENS: In addition, we are having screens custom made which will be used to section off Woodwind and Brass players from Strings.
  8. We will ensure that our rehearsal space and break off rooms for lessons are well ventilated. Windows will be kept open.
  9. A one-way system will be implemented and pathways will be kept clear
  10. Musicians should not share pens/pencils/music/music stands/chairs/water bottles/cups. All equipment including chairs will be sanitised before and after use.
  11. A Covid Isolation Room has been set up
  12. We may need to reduce the duration and number of rehearsals, or have split/sectional rehearsals. You will be advised of this if it is necessary
CUI group joined CBOI rehearsal



CUI students get the opportunity to rehearse with the Cross Border Orchestra of Ireland. The emphasis is on ensemble learning and playing


Rehearsals and lessons are held in the state-of-the-art facilities at Coláiste Chu Chulainn, Dundalk.

















CUI group joined CBOI rehearsal

Aoife Dennedy

Tutoring: Cello

Aoife Dennedy is a professional cellist based in Dublin. She works as a freelance cellist across Ireland and has played with many art- ists including Michael Mublé, Josh Groban, Westlife, Alesha Dix- on, Phil Coulter, Ham Sandwich and Nathan Carter to name a few. She also performs regularly at weddings, private events and cor- porate functions with her quartet “The Leinster String Quartet”.

A Keen orchestral musician, she has played with the NI Op- era, RTE Concert Orchestra, Wexford Festival Opera Or- chestra and Symphonia Cymru. Aoife holds a BA in Mu- sic Performance from The Royal Irish Academy of Music and a Masters in Music Performance from the Royal Northern College of Music


Marie Claire Brody

Tutoring: Violin

Marieclaire graduated with a Masters in Classical String Performance from The University of Limerick in 2018 under the guidance of Katherine Hunka, leader of the Irish Chamber Orchestra. She was awarded the RTE Lyric FM String Scholarship to complete her studies. In 2012 she graduated from the Cork School of Music with Bachelor of Music Honours under the guidance of renowned violinist Ruxandra Petcu-Colan. She has also completed postgraduate studies in violin performance with the DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama. She is currently studying violin with Raquel Castro in Barcelona, Spain. Marieclaire has participated in many solo and chamber master classes with violinists Baiba Skride, Catherine Leonard, Debbie Diamond, the Vanburgh Quartet, Aoife Nic Athlaoich, Robin Panter, Rita Manning and the RTE Con Tempo Quartet.

Marieclaire is 1st violinist with the Amoroso Quartet and as a former member of the CBOI has always had a keen interest in orchestral playing. Most recently she has played with the Irish Chamber Orchestra during their 2018 December tour. She lead the Esker Festival Orchestra on their 2017 tour. Marieclaire has played and toured extensively with many orchestras in Ireland including the Hibernian Orchestra, Fishamble Sinfonia, SinfoNua and the Academos ensemble with the Irish Chamber Orchestra.

As a session violinist Marieclaire has recorded and performed with many artists such as Lisa Hannigan, Hermitage Green, We Lived in Cities, I Am Niamh and FIELDS. Marieclaire has a great interest in teaching and has been on staff with the Irish Chamber Orchestra’s Sing Out With Strings programme and is currently teaching the CBOI Dynamic Strings project.

Bernie Balfe

Tutoring: Clarinet

Bernie Balfe is a clarinetist, saxophonist and vocalist with an eclectic musical experience ranging from Classical and Choral, to Jazz and Rock. As an educator with Music Generation Louth she works as an instrumental and musicianship instructor. Bernie holds a BMus Perf Hons degree from DIT and an MA in Music from DkIT.

Philip Fergusson

Tutoring: Trumpet

Philip is currently a ‘district coordinator’ with the SELB. Philip is an exceptional music educator and teaches all Brass instruments preparing students for ‘Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music’ examinations, ‘GSCE’ and ‘A-level’ practical examinations. Philip has conducted many ensembles and orchestras including the highly respected Belfast Brass. Philip is an outstanding solo and ensemble performer and has worked with most of the big Operatic Societies in Northern Ireland as well as the Ulster Orchestra.



Dan Bodwell

Tutoring: Double Bass

Daniel Bodwell studied classical double bass with Anthony Bianco at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and jazz double bass with Detlef Baier at the Hochschule fuer Kuenste, Bremen. Currently residing in Ireland, he performs regularly with Frankie Gavin and De Danann, the RTE Concert Orchestra, Quiet Music Ensemble, Declan O’Rourke, Jerry Fish, Duke Special, the Nigel Mooney Quartet, Mary Coughlan, the FrancescoTurrisi Trio, Julie Feeney, the Sue Rynhart/Daniel Bodwell Duo, and the New York based Micah Gaugh Trio. With the Crash Ensemble, he played the Dublin and New York premieresof Donnacha Dennehy’s ‘Grá agus Bás’ featuring Iarla Ó Lionáird and the Dublin premiere of Dennehy’s ‘That the Night Come’ featuring Dawn Upshaw. Recent recordings include Declan O’Rourke’s ‘Gold Bars in the Sun’, Mary Coughlan’s ‘Scars on the Calender’,Dave Flynn’s DFF: ‘Pouric Songs’, Sue Rynhart’s ‘Crossings’, Quiet Music Ensemble, Nigel Mooney’s ‘The Bohemian Mooney’, Nina Hynes’ ‘Goldmine’, Crash Ensemble: Donnacha Dennehy’s ‘That the Night Come’, Ian Wilson’s ‘Double Trio’, Francesco Turrisi’s ‘Si Dolce e il Tormento’, David Lyttle’s ‘True Story’, and the Dubliners 40th Anniversary. 


Barry McBrien

Tutoring: Trombone, Tuba, Horn & Saxophone

Barry McBrien is an accomplished trombonist based in Dublin having played professionally for over twenty-five years. He works regularly with the Dublin City Jazz Orchestra and The Hot House Big Band. On the classical front he has worked with The RTE Concert Orchestra and The National Symphony Orchestra. He has preformed and/or recorded with Oasis, Van Morrison, Gene Pitney, Sinéad O’Connor, The Corrs, Jack L, Englebert Humperdinck, The Lighthouse Family, Mary Black and Slide Hampton.

He was also a member of The Late Late Show house band for two years.


Gareth Hughes

Tutoring: Double Bass

Gareth Hughes began his professional music career in 1998 and has since played bass guitar and double bass with Elton John, Lionel Richie, Ronan Keating, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Dane Bowers, Russell Watson, Gilbert O’Sullivan, Marti Pellow, Rodney Crowell, The 4 of Us, Kieran Goss, Gareth Dunlop, The Celtic Tenors, Juliet Turner and many more. Amongst numerous musicals, Gareth played in the Irish première of ‘RENT’. As a member of the Friday-Seezer Ensemble Gareth performed in the theatrical productions of ’Ice Liebe Dich’ and ‘Is That All There Is?’, and recorded the soundtrack to ‘In America’ and a unique interpretation of ’Peter & the Wolf’. Gareth has taught double bass, bass guitar and cello for the Education Authority of Northern Ireland since 2011. In this capacity, he teaches pupils from 8-18 years of age and is a co-leader of ‘Music Makers’, the junior string orchestra for the EANI Southern Region.