The Music Rooms Blog

Putting ‘Charity’ into our Music Rooms’ Charity Gig – Why? Part 2

Thanks for all the lovely feedback on part one of my blog. Aside from some (to be anticipated) cynicism from our local maestros, I think everyone got my point. I started a music school to try and give everyone with a love/desire or passion for music the opportunity to pursue it and I wanted to give them opportunities that I didn’t have. Opportunities to learn outside of the box and develop, by playing along with others. Our charity gig supports both of these ideas and makes them a reality.

Bringing charity into the ‘gig’ aspect made sense for me and my former business partner, John, when we first birthed the idea five years ago. Initially our motivation was a staff member who’s beautiful daughter was born with spina bifida, undetected in any pregnancy scans. We approached him and he said he wanted to give the money to the ward in the royal Victoria hospital that saved his daughter’s life. With the money we bought portable dvd players for all the beds in the ward so that the kids of the ward, who often endured some lengthy stays in hospital, had something to help them pass the time.

Fast forward the clock four years. I’m sitting in the Allen Ward of the Royal Victoria Hospital with my baby girl and a nurse brings in a DVD player. My daughter Mary loved her wee dvd player at home and we quickly rigged it up. I suddenly realised where that DVD player had come from.

Putting ‘Charity’ into our Music Rooms' Charity Gig – Why? Part 2 The Music Rooms


I filled with emotion and was bursting with pride all at the same time. Not because of something I’d done, because of something every single person had done by purchasing a ticket and attending the event that night.

Everyone knows the story of what eventually played out with my beautiful baby. Many of you have walked the journey with me, cried with me and supported me immeasurably. Last year’s charity gig was in her memory. It was the only focus I could use to effectively get through the night without a complete breakdown. This year she will be remembered too as we support two charities, one that gave her a life fit for a queen – The NI Children’s Hospice and one that would have given her every opportunity possible had she lived beyond 27 Feb 2016 – The RNIB.

Not many people know, Mary was registered blind. Seems crazy that she loved her DVD player and we often debated the subject with the doctors but her diagnosis was complete blindness. The Music Rooms have for the past six years worked very closely with the RNIB and seen first-hand the opportunities they give to children and adults with partial or complete sight loss. The NI Children’s Hospice is a ‘must’ for children and the families of children with life limiting illnesses. Mary spent her final days here and we spent many happy times here as a family throughout her short life as she was given respite. This year we are supporting both these wonderful charities through our ticket sales and raffle on the night.

Isn’t it amazing that the proceeds from the charity gig back in 2012 eventually came back full circle? I am not going to try and distance myself from this event being personal. It always has been for me. Yet this isn’t a plea or a cry out for sympathy. This is the reality of how supporting these events can actually make a difference. Your support last year made the lives of some extremely sick children a lot better. We have booked out the whole theatre this year. Help us fill it. In return we will give you a night to remember.

For tickets visit or call the Braid on 02825635077.

The Music Rooms Charity Gig – Why? – Part 1

I grew up with two passions in life. The first was football and the second was music. When Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs and eventually even Ballymena didn’t come in to sign me, I realised that I needed to focus my attentions elsewhere.

Rodney Beggs, The Music Rooms

The Music Rooms Charity Gig – Why? – Part 1 The Music Rooms


Music initially didn’t happen for me at school as it does for many others. I got overlooked because I wasn’t ‘properly trained’. The school orchestra needed a drummer, I went along, played the piece but I couldn’t read the music – so I wasn’t good enough. The song they were playing was a march – I could play a march with my eyes closed, and did so that day – but I was rejected.

I continued to pursue music on my own outside of school – In church, in bands, with friends and by teaching myself. We practiced in church halls, garages, old hen houses and played the odd gig, looking back we sounded shocking at the start but the key was we stayed together and we played together.

I went on to teach myself the guitar and as I became more confident started to sing. I walked out of my first job as I wasn’t willing to be walked over by terrible management, and terrifyingly went home to my parents to tell them. This wasn’t the done thing. On the way home that day I called a friend and asked him if he could get me a gig. I needed something to go home to tell my parents, some sort of a plan.

I got a gig that Friday night in Gillies at the Galgorm Resort and Spa. I spent the week learning a set and played my first solo gig that Friday evening and this time got paid for it. That was 14 years ago.

The Music Rooms Charity Gig – Why? – Part 1 The Music Rooms

Throughout these past 14 years I identified that there had to be other kids who are rejected and overlooked by musical snobbery. There are others who have untapped potential that needs unlocking. So I decided I was going to teach them. I was going to take the ability they had, use the music they love and get them to play together with others. Firstly they played with me and maybe another student as we weren’t very big in our operation.

But then my best mate and I started The Music Rooms and we made sure that students would have an opportunity to perform in front of people and play along with others. It was this experience that gave me the confidence to pursue music further, playing with my mates since I was 14, playing a load of nervous gigs with them and trembling at my first solo gig when I was 21, but it shaped me.

For the past four years we have been giving our students the chance to do just that. There was nothing around like this when I was growing up and perhaps If there was I’d have tried less on becoming the next George Best and more on becoming the next George Harrison.

We have sold out the ground floor of The Braid Arts Centre the past two years and this year we have booked out the whole theatre. That’s 400 seats. I can guarantee you will be amazed by the talent on show and will come away entertained and blessed by some wonderful students – young and old. Check out the pics to see just how well we got on last year.

For tickets tel visit or tel The Braid Arts Centre – 02825635077


Music Exams

Let’s face it. No one really likes exams, they can be scary. And music exams are no different. Luckily Music Rooms’ student Amber Monahan is here to give us her advice for practising for and taking music exams.

Music Exams The Music Rooms



To prepare for exams it’s best to practise as much as possible. Try to practise every day even if only for a short time.

Practise the parts you find difficult instead of the parts you like or even try the piece as a whole. The only way to improve is to correct mistakes and make sure the piece is at a standard you are happy with.

Practise for fun. It will seem less of a chore and will enhance your ability. If you find you are not enjoying playing that much, try to make it fun by finding songs you like.

Perform for people at every opportunity. You will find it becomes easier the more often you do this and you will be less nervous in the exam. You will be less aware of the examiner and more able to concentrate.



Wake up early before your exam to go over your pieces. You will feel more confident if you are prepared and warmed up.

Choose your session skill based on what you are best at. If you are good under pressure and can learn quickly I would suggest the playback option. If you are creative and can think quickly I would suggest improvisation.


It’s not as bad as you think

The examiners are really friendly and they want you to do well. It sometimes helps to remember this.

Always try to stay calm. Even if the exam goes badly you are able to retake it. With this in mind you should be able to keep the nerves at bay as even if something does go wrong you can relax knowing that you will always be able to take the exam again.




Buying a musical instrument for a child

The Music Rooms’ Guide to buying a musical instrument for a child

It’s a big decision and can be a large expenditure of money, but getting the right instrument and making sure you get value for money is not as easy as you might think.

There are many places to go to purchase a musical instrument. Either in person at department stores, music shops and even toy shops or online from a host of sellers.

When it comes to actual physical stores there are many options and a world of difference in the quality you can expect.


Buying a musical instrument for a child is an important purchase

Buying a musical instrument for a child The Music Rooms

As music professionals at The Music Rooms you might think we are being biased towards proper music stores, but our passion comes from developing musical talent and in many cases instruments from non-musical stores make it very hard for young students to learn properly. Actually making the job of learning more difficult.

Music is not the speciality of these shops and as music is a specialised pastime, it’s only natural that they can fall short. 

Buying a musical instrument for a child from a toy shop or general department store can be a false economy. On one hand it seems you are getting a cheap instrument from a well known store. But unfortunately if you buy a musical instrument from a toy shop, you are really buying a toy.

These instruments can be hard to play and probably won’t stay in tune. You will more than likely end up buying a proper instrument anyway as you watch your child’s musical development being held back – making your overall spend much more than it should be.

Buying a musical instrument for a child The Music Rooms

If you are thinking of going down the online route when buying a musical instrument for your child, our advice would be to go for a music retailer.

But bear in mind that the major downside of purchasing online is that you have no way of seeing the quality of the instrument and indeed playing it.

While online shopping has revolutionised the way we shop, some items really lend themselves to holding, using and seeing in person before buying, which is why your local music shop is great.

If you do decide to go online, go for a music shop selling on the web and not a toy shop or department store selling online. This way is the quality will be assured, with reputable music shops taking pride in sourcing quality instruments.

We have lost count of the times people have come in to The Music Rooms to buy a guitar or drum kit to replace the “cheap” one they got online or in a toy shop which just wasn’t right.


“Having the proper musical instrument will mean a lot to your child’s musical development, we would urge you to spend a little extra in getting them the instrument that is right.”


Local Music Shop Plus Points

  • Proper musical instruments – giving your child the best chance to learn
  • Aftercare available – if you need help after you purchase, staff will be happy to help
  • Professional musicians behind the till – the advice is free!
  • Can arrange lessons for the instrument
  • Ability to trade up once your child outgrows the beginner instrument or 
  • Quality instruments sourced

Your local music shop will place an emphasis on both quality and price. They can advise and arrange lessons. They can repair your instrument if needed and also take your instrument as a trade in.

You may also be surprised that the price of a properly designed musical instrument which is fit for purpose isn’t much more than the toy. This is money well spent in our opinion.

We love music, we want to promote music and make make music fun for everyone, so hopefully this is helpful in choosing where and how to buy your instrument.


Call us today to discuss purchasing an instrument or drop in to our shop to chat.


If you liked this, you might also find our post on Buying a Guitar for a Beginner helpful.

What age can my child start music lessons?

Given that music is such a positive and enjoyable activity for kids, it’s not surprising that many eager parents ask the question ‘what age can my child start music lessons?’

As a parent you will know that all children are different. So unfortunately, it is not as easy as giving one set age. Some children may show an aptitude for music very early on while others develop their musical prowess much later.

What age can my child start music lessons? The Music Rooms

To help you decide if your child is ready, think about the factors and skills that are required in music. The main ones being:

  • Dexterity
  • Co-ordination
  • Timing
  • Pitch
  • Concentration

With concentration usually having a big impact. Younger children can lose concentration very quickly.


So, what age can my child start music lessons?

We know an age benchmark is helpful. So, to give you an idea, the youngest we have started is 5 years old. But bear in mind most kids have joined us later than this and have turned out to be incredibly talented (some who were not ready at five have gone on to start at 6/7 years old – when they were ready)

Our Advice – Come and try for FREE

As we’ve already said, every child is different, so our advice is to come along to see how they get on. We are happy to give a free lesson for younger students to see if they are ready. We will give you honest feedback and our opinion on whether they are ready or not.

What you don’t want to do is put them off music. Or force them into music when they are not ready. Our professional teachers will be able to use your free lesson to assess the child and see if they are ready.

We have shorter lesson options available for kids an younger students and this might be something that could be beneficial.

Junior Jammers

If your child is too young for lessons then we also have the option of our successful groups for kids – Junior Jammers.

Junior Jammers is our pre-instrument club for kids aged 3-6 years old. The main focus of the group is to have fun.
In Jammers the kids learn about rhythm and singing, while tying out a few instruments.
Junior Jammers develops musical skills in a fun and less pressured environment. The kids love this fun intro into music!

Hopefully this helps answer your questions on the subject of when to start and please give us a call if you have a child who is interested in starting into the wonderful world of music.

Call for a friendly chat or have a look at all the wonderful music lessons available at The Music Rooms.

How often should I practice music?

As professional music teachers, ‘ How often should I practice music? ’ is a question we hear an awful lot. Like anything else in life the more you practice the better you will become. We know you want to get the most out of practice and we know traditionally it might have been a pain, so we’ve compiled some Music Rooms techniques and tips to make it as enjoyable and effective as possible. You may be glad to know that we don’t recommend endless hours upon hours of gruelling slog.

How often should I practice music? The Music Rooms


  • You need to have a focus

A good music teacher (like the awesome ones at The Music Rooms) will only ever give you three to four things to focus on in any given week. If you don’t have a clear idea or focus on what you are trying to improve on with your practice sessions then the whole idea of practice could seem overwhelming. So if your are picking out things to go over yourself, only choose a few such as two scales and a certain difficult chord and set a time frame of say a week to focus on these items and get really good at them. Clear focus within a definite time period is the key here.

  • Frequency is crucial

You may be surprised to hear that practising three to five minutes everyday is much better than doing a whole hour but only doing it once a week. This is because the benefit of practice lies in the familiarity. This daily repetition allows us to memorise our notes, chords and rhythms.

Remember, the aim is not to chalk up hours spent to get a tick from your teacher, it is to improve on your instrument and this comes from building on each skill your learn. Your brain and muscles will learn from repetition even if this is only five minutes everyday.

Some people find practising for 15 minutes every other day works best for them. That’s fine too, but never have a two day gap between practice sessions.

  • Are you up for the challenge?

Always ask your teacher for something that will challenge you. This will give you the motivation to practice more. If the items you are practising are not challenging, you will begin to see practice as a bore and not a challenge. You will also benefit from a sense of achievement when you crack it if the items you have focussed on have pushed you to succeed.

How often should I practice music? The Music Rooms

  • Practice makes perfect

If you follow the three simple concepts above when it comes to your music practice you should see a vast improvement. You need to practice not for lengthy periods of time but often, you need to be challenged and you need to have around three to four items which you can focus on over a set period of say a week so that your practice sessions have a defined purpose.

Musical practice should be enjoyable and a means to develop and progress your musical skills and journey. As we said above you only need to do five minutes per day on something that is challenging for you, which is more than doable for anyone and is certainly not as terrifying as a dreaded hour of practice. If you can get into the mind-frame of wanting to do it because it makes you better rather than having to do it and seeing it as a chore you will reap the rewards.

Happy practising!

For professional music lessons or to ask us more about music practice and improvement please get in touch with The Music Rooms today.

Rehearsal Space Antrim Now Open

The Perfect Practice Room for Hire…

The Music Rooms Rehearsal Space Antrim is now open and taking bookings.

Rehearsal Space Antrim Now Open The Music Rooms

Rehearsal Space Antrim Now Open The Music Rooms

The state of the art facility at our Antrim venue uses cinema sound-deadening technology and is equipped with the best gear.

It’s the perfect place for bands or artists to practice in peace, without neighbours or family getting annoyed by the noise.

Competitively priced to encourage local talent, you can book the space from £20 for two hours.


The equipment supplied includes:

  • Mapex 4 piece kit (cymbals not provided)
  • Marshall Stack (Lead 100 Mosfet head & cab)
  • Laney combo
  • Peavey XP Series Bass head & cab
  • Peavey PA amp
  • 2 x Cerwin Vega speakers
  • 2 x mics on boom stands


For all further info check out the Rehearsal Space page.

Call 0845 680 3405 to book your slot.


Our Rehearsal Space is…

Rehearsal Space Antrim Now Open The Music Rooms

The Music Rooms Demo Day and Breaking News!

It gives me great pleasure to firstly invite you all to our first ‘Demo Day’ in our music shop on Church St on Saturday 7th February 2015.

On the day none other than local guitar sensation, Simon McBride will be in the shop, playing and demoing the finest in locally made guitars and amps from IMC Custom Guitars and Dirty Dog Amplification. It will be worth the trip alone to hear this guy play guitar, but if you’re serious about your playing, this is an opportunity to check out these custom made guitars and amps and try them out for yourself on the day.

Also appearing on the day will be local singers and songwriters. We have the pleasure of The Gribbin Girls, Tiernan Heffron, Joe Rocks and Steven McBride joining us to showcase their talents and each will be playing a short acoustic set throughout the afternoon.

There will be free Tea/Coffee and nibbles served all day and proceedings will kick off from around 12.30pm.

Oh and I forgot to mention, The Music Rooms is proud to announce that it is now an official dealer of ‘Guild Guitars’. On Saturday 7th February we will have our first collection of these beautifully made instruments in the shop for you to come in and try out. Check out the list below of artists who play Guild Guitars to give you an idea of the quality now on offer…

Eric Clapton

Brian May (Queen)

Jeff Buckley

John Denver

Randy Travis


Stevie Ray Vaughan

Sheryl Crow

Tom Petty

Nick Drake

Paul Simon

Tim Buckley

Buddy Guy

Dan Auerbach

Fran Healy (Travis)

Bruno Mars



The Music Rooms Charity Gig 2014

Charity Gig 2014

It’s back and it’s bigger than ever. On Friday 7th November 2014, ‘The Music Rooms’ Charity gig in aid of the RNIB will take place in The Braid Arts Centre Ballymena and what a night we have planned for you.

The Music Rooms Charity Gig 2014 The Music RoomsThe ‘Main Act’ on the evening will be students from The Music Rooms. Each year at our Charity gig’s we try to involve our students as much as possible, giving them a platform to perform in front of great crowds, in great settings and with each other. This year is our best student representation to date. Alongside our ‘House Band’ (The Mentors) our students will be singing, shredding, strumming, tinkling, banging and generally ripping up the stage to the amazement of their audience. We are so proud of every one of them who has volunteered and agreed to this (even those who took some persuading) and can’t wait to see them in action.

Also taking  the stage on the evening will be local folk act ‘The Coves’ fronted by local singer/songwriter, Rodney Beggs. Expect speedy banjo, silky harmonies and some obscure covers to songs that would seem less than synonymous with this particular line up.

Also appearing are a young local band, who have performed at many ‘Music Rooms’ events over the years called ‘One Way There’. We’re slightly biased because all the lads trained with ‘The Music Rooms’ down through the years but their energetic brand of pop and rock covers will have you moving and grooving in no time so be sure to catch these guys before their legion of young female fans means you no longer can!

Finally, It’s our absolute pleasure to again be joined by ‘The Counterfeit Notes’ (formerly The Stonehouse Band) who have performed at every ‘Music Rooms’ charity gig to date. The resident band from The local BT Blues and Rock Club have a fantastic sound and repertoire that is a treat for any listening ear. Fronted by local man Chris McGahey who seamlessly mixes fantastic vocals with mind blowing guitar licks, for the budding musician or the seasoned player, this is well worth the cover charge alone!

Sound like a great Friday night? I think so. Friday 7th November, Braid Arts, Centre, Ballymena, doors open 7pm. There will be a door charge on the night of £7 as well as a raffle with great prizes from local businesses. For more info please call 07837201058 or email

Summer at The Music Rooms

While most music schools go to sleep in the summer and take a break, at The Music Rooms we do it slightly differently. Not only do our one to one lessons continue, but we offer a world of fun and exciting classes, schemes and courses to keep the passions of music lovers and learners alive.

Summer at The Music Rooms The Music Rooms

Summer Schemes

Give your child a week to remember this summer by signing them up for one of our Summer Schemes. Beginner and Band Workshop Summer Schemes will be running in Ballymena and Antrim for children aged 6-11 and 12-16. This is an action packed week where kids of all music abilities (beginners and more advanced players) come together under the instruction of our professional music teachers. Singers, guitarists, piano/keyboard players, drummers, bassists and potentially other instrumentalists are all welcome. Everyone will get to experience the excitement of forming and playing in their own band. The kids get to name their band, we teach them to play songs and band craft. At the end of the week they record a CD, shoot a music video and put on a performance. The cost of the week long (Mon-Fri) Summer Scheme is £65.

Our week long Antrim Summer Schemes will take place in The Music Rooms Antrim 28th–31st July and  4th-8th August, and the Ballymena Summer Schemes will take place in The Braid Arts Centre 11th-15th August and again 18th–22nd August.

Phone now to book your place as spaces limited!

6 Week Summer Courses

If you have a burning desire to learn a musical instrument, become better at one or just do something different and fun for summer then we have 6 week courses that are right up your street. From beginners right through to more advanced players there is a course here to suit everyone – just check out the list below and call us to sign up today. Cost of the 6 week course is £60 (one session per week, minimum time of 30mins depending on numbers, mostly one-to-one).


6 Week Course Beginner Acoustic Guitar

6 Week Course Beginner Electric Guitar

6 Week Beginner Bass Guitar

Improve Your Guitar Playing in 6 weeks

Improve Your Lead Guitar in 6 weeks

6 Week Course in Blues/Slide Guitar

Improve your Fingerstyle Guitar in 6 weeks

6 Week Introduction Course Jazz Guitar (Ballymena Only)

6 Week Course Rock/Heavy Metal Guitar


Summer at The Music Rooms The Music RoomsDRUMS

6 Week Course Beginner Drums

Improve Your Drumming in 6 weeks

6 Week Course in Heavy Metal Drums (double bass, fills etc)

6 Week Introduction Course Jazz Drums

6 Week Introduction Course Funk Drums

6 Week Introduction Course Indie Drums (Killers, Kings of Leon, Biffy)

6 Week Introduction Course Improve your Drum Fills



6 Week Beginner Keyboard/Piano

Improve Your Keyboard/Piano in 6 weeks



Beginner Vocals

Improve Your Vocals in 6 weeks

6 Week Course on Singing and Playing together (Piano or Guitar)




Beginner Banjo (4 string or 5 string)

Beginner Ukulele

Beginner Mandolin

6 Week Crash Course in Music Theory

6 Week Course on Praise & Worship Piano Playing

6 Week course on Praise & Worship Guitar Playing



Call us TODAY to book your Summer Scheme/Summer Course  NOW – 07837201058

To receive the latest news from Music Rooms and Music Store Online sign up here: