Giving a piece of our MINdDS - our outreach activities

The MINdDS research project evolved from the very successful training programme ‘Music4Children’ which was set up in 2011 by Dr McMullan and primary school teacher Mr Padraig Wallace. The programme, which has received both national and international attention celebrates learning music through fun and creativity, and takes its inspiration from contrasting cultures, musical genres and most importantly, the children themselves. The course encourages confidence building, independent thinking and playful interaction making learning music a positive experience.

I don’t think any of us at Down Syndrome Cork, every imagined when we started with Eva and the puppets at Music4Children, the amazing impact it would have on our kids. The amount of benefits these sessions have on auditory processing, language skills, speech, shared experience with parents, attention building, turn taking, literacy skills and most of all fun is astounding’ (Alison Wilson – Down Syndrome Cork).

Dr Eva McMullanDepartment of Music UCC, and Director of Music4ChildrenPadraig Wallace, Primary School Teacher and Director of Music4Children and Esther-Anna-BennettMusic Therapist

Taught by Dr Eva McMullan, Padraig Wallace and Esther-Anna-Bennett, the positive effects of music on children with DS has been noted locally by both parents and teachers who have reported increased attention and self-monitoring.

Mia really loves going to her music class and is so proud to be a part it. She really enjoys the structure and warm up song and especially the puppets! it has given her so many opportunities to build her confidence such as speaking in front of the group and singing & signing in front of an audience. She is learning lots of skills like turn taking, patience and social skills through interacting with her peers.  And of course, she is learning about and appreciating music in a fun, interactive and recognizable way even for me! That is thanks to Eva and Esther’s patience, kindness, interactive and entertaining class. (Sharon Forde, Mia’s Mum)

In the News!


MINdDS Outreach activities:

Since the official launch of the MINdDS research project on International Down Syndrome Day March 21st  2019 by President Patrick O’Shea – there have been several related outreach initiatives which have helped raise awareness, enthusiasm, and encouragement for research on Music and the Brain.

FUAIM CONCERT SERIES: This is Why we Sing 

‘This is Why we Sing’ was sponsored by the esteemed FUAIM Concert Series (Department of Music UCC)  and held in the Aula Maxima. Featuring John Spillane, Conal Creedon, the UCC Choir, the Crosshaven Community Choir, Children from Mitchelstown Primary School, members of Down Syndrome Cork, and Sally Cole as soloist. This concert brought together children and adults of all abilities to promote the significance of music engagement in their lives.

John Spillane with members of Down Syndrome Cork outside the Ala Maxima before their performance with the UCC Choir 


'This is Why We Sing' FUAIM Concert Finale

 CORK OPERA HOUSE: Outreach Christmas Series 2019

Invited by the Cork Opera House Outreach Christmas Series 2019,  Dr. McMullan conducted the music group at Down Syndrome Cork in two concerts that formed part of the Opera House Outreach Christmas series in 2019.

Backstage in the Cork Opera House, Dr Eva McMullan with members of Down Syndrome Cork in advance of their performance as part of their Christmas Outreach Concerts in December 2019

VIDEO: BEST FRIEND STAY SAFE: created to raise awareness of the vulnerability of children and adults with DS to COVID-19

MINdDS Project leader Dr Eva McMullan produced an inspiring upbeat video ‘Best Friend’ Stay Safe! with the generosity of Brian Kennedy and featuring Dr Pauline Frizelle (School of Clinical Therapies) and the members of Down Syndrome Cork. This video was created during the difficult days of the Covid-19 lockdown to raise awareness of the vulnerability of children and adults with DS to COVID-19.

The video was an enormous success brightning the days of all viewers. The MINdDS team and video contributers received acknowledgement from the President of Ireland President Michael D. Higgins, and President of UCC, Professor John O’Halloran. Directed by Conor Slattery and released on International Friendship Day July 30th 2020, this video also received much coverage from the University and National media.


 'Best friend stay safe!  Brian Kennedy and members of Down Syndrome Cork International Friendship day 2020 

See below links for media coverage links;



Christmas 2020 was to be a bit different who knew!! But even the Covid-19 Pandemic restrictions did not deter Dr McMullan, the UCC Choir, the Crosshaven Community Choir, the Music4Children Choir, members of the Down Syndrome Cork and Dr Pauline Frizelle (School of Clinical Therapies UCC) spreading a message of hope during the pandemic in Christmas 2020.

Performing Somewhere in my Memory composed by John Williams and arr. by Audrey Schnyder and featuring soloist Sally Cole, their video received over 4.5k views.

   Christmas 2020 'Somewhere in my Memory'  featuring soloist Sally Cole

 STOMPING OUT LOUD! Music and the Brain

To highlight to policy makers and those in government that music is not just a creative outlet, but as an integral factor in brain health,  MINdDS founders Dr Eva McMullan and Professor Yvonne Nolan created ‘Stomping Out Loud! Music and the Brain’ a collaborative video featuring body percussion composed by Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas from the percussion group STOMP and an Allen Billingsley arrangement of the Pentatonix cover of Fleet Foxes’ White Winter Hymnal.

Dr. McMullan is passionate about the positive effect that music has on mental well-being, all the more topical now in the current global context of the COVID-19 pandemic where worldwide individuals are vulnerable to social isolation and mental illness. McMullan and Nolan created the video to “empower those that are suffering with mental illness with a knowledge of the power of music!”. While also “encouraging collaborative research projects across these disciplines. ‘Stomping Out Loud! Music and the Brain’ showcases how all ages and demographics are receptive to the transformative power of music underscoring the need for deeper research in the area.”

Supported by APC Microbiome UCC, this collaborative video brought the UCC Choir together with researchers from APC Microbiome and the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience to raise awareness of the importance between Music and the Brain.

Special thanks are owed to the residents of Haven Bay Care Centre, Zach Sexton, Livvy McElligot, Brian Morrissey, Siun, Darragh and Cillian Morrissey, Laoise and Clodagh Kennedy, Mary and Danny Morrissey, Oscar and Louis Slattery, and of course former rugby international Frankie Sheahan for endorsing the video.

  ‘Stomping Out Loud! Music and the Brain'  performance of  'White Winter Hymnal’    

Some of the media coverage which the video received can be found in the below links: 

Arts and Health

Irish Examiner: Cork musicians STOMP with legendary percussionists to show effects of music on brain

 TIMBRE: The Irish Music and the Brain Research Group

Catherine Jordan (Chairperson), Dr Eva McMullan (Outreach/Events Office), and Dr Claire Howlin (Communications Officer) at the launch of TIMBRE (The Irish Music and the Brain Research Group, October 2019).


Actively promoting the need for more detailed research into Music and its impact on the brain, prominent researchers in the field formed TIMBRE; The Irish Music Brain Research Group.

TIMBRE is an inclusive interdisciplinary research network with expertise in neuroscience, psychology, therapy, music practitioners, and education.  Their aim is to build a research framework across Ireland that explores the relationships between music and the mind, from both highly theoretical and applied perspective, combining musicianship with advanced research methodologies.  MINdDS leader Dr. McMullan, is their Outreach and Events Officer.

TIMBRE welcomes new members; interested researchers, teachers, parents and members of the public.

Contact TIMBRE:  WebsiteTwitter Facebook

Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience

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