Young piano students make the grade with a perfect 100 score

Pupils of well-know Derry music teacher Ray McGinley have passed their piano exams with an amazing perfect score.

The pupils sat Step 1 and Step 2 as well as Grade 1 exams via the London College of Music.

The four girls, Aoibhinn ni Dhonghaile, Rosa O’Reilly, Kady Cavanagh and Grace Lyttle hit the perfect score when they presented their pieces to the examiner last week.

The 100 per cent score is such an unusual phenomenon that it is rarely if ever given and Ray McGinley recalled how she had been reprimanded by an exam board in the past for awarding full marks.

“What can you do if a child presents everything perfectly, you have to give full marks and these pupils were obviously so well prepared that the examiner couldn’t deduct any marks from them,” said Mrs McGinley.

“They are very talented girls but also work very hard and all credit must go to their parents for taking them to lessons and making sure that they practice as well.

“All of my pupils did an excellent job with their exams this year and every single one passed with distinction; I’m very proud of them all.

“The discipline of learning an instrument and the daily practice that comes with that will help with all of their other studies and the exams they take can be used on UCAS applications and it is always an addition to a CV.

“Of course it’s also about personal enjoyment and meeting new friends,” she added.

Ray, who has been teaching for more than 50 years, is showing no signs of hanging up her teaching hat just yet. and now heads up a school of music and drama at her Northland Road home.

A life-long love of music and a passion for teaching has seen the McGinley School grow from strength to strength and its pupils more often than not take the top prizes at the annual Derry Feis.

But Ray McGinley’s ethos is about more than awards and prizes and she has filled literally thousands of children with confidence and pride in their ability to play a musical instrument.

“I love to see them progress and learn and I don’t want to let go of that,” said Ray.

“People keep saying to me that I should retire but the truth is that I don’t want to.

“Don’t ask me what age I am because I won’t tell you,” she laughed.

“As well as the school of music and drama I do a lot of voluntary work, including teaching a choir which sings at St Eugene’s Cathedral every other Sunday.

“I also work as an examiner fo the London School of Music which takes me up and down the country but recently I’ve cut back on that because I just don’t like travelling alone anymore.

“All of my three teach music and I’m very proud of that too. Between us we teach piano, viola, violin as well as the cello.

“The youngest, Ruth, is about to release her first album and is a concert pianist as well as a teacher.

“Teaching music is also about handing out praise to the children and I love that aspect of it. I love to tell them how well they are doing and how great they are.

“Then they can leave the lesson feeling great not just about what they have learned but about themselves too.”