Count Us In is a free instrument tuition programme for children run by the Cross Border Orchestra of Ireland (CBOI) and is an important feeder programme for CBOI. Children receive an instrument on loan and a free weekly group lesson. 90 children currently participate. Count Us In is modelled on the Venezuelan system of music education which is regarded as the best in the world and is based on group learning and performance.

Group lessons take place in Coláiste Chu Chulainn, Dundalk on Sunday mornings from September throughout the school year.  Lessons are given by our team of outstanding tutors.

CUI is most suitable for children aged 9 – 12yrs. You should only apply to this programme on behalf of your child if:

  • You are serious about learning music
  • You have a genuine ambition for your child to become a confident musician and a contributing member of the CBOI in the future 
  • You can commit fully to the schedule of lessons on Sundays 
  • You understand that it will be essential to practice daily at home with your child in order to keep up with the class
  • You understand that this is LONG-TERM. We don’t want anybody joining to ‘try it’ for a few weeks and then give up, thus depriving a serious student of the opportunity. This should be discussed at home.


  • Parents may be required to attend lessons with their son/daughter.
  • Classes will commence in September or when there are adequate numbers.



    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.

















    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.