Irish rock giants U2 and the American Ireland Fund have come together to launch a program that will give young people in Ireland the chance to learn a musical instrument or get vocal lessons. 

The fantastic foursome have ponied up €5 million ($7.1 million), while the AIF will chip in with €2 million ($2.85 million) to make sure the program, which will be administered by non-profit music services organization Music Network, will run until 2015.

“Being around music at a young age was important for us and we were lucky to have it at school. We had been looking for some time for a way to get involved in an initiative in music education in Ireland,” said the Edge on behalf of the band.

“After talking to various people in Ireland about what to do, we came to the conclusion that the Music Network scheme is really well thought out and that we, in partnership with the Ireland Funds, should just get behind it.”

Chair of The American Ireland Fund Loretta Brennan Glucksman is delighted to be involved in a project that will enhance its core values. “Our goal is to stimulate philanthropy in Ireland and the scheme falls under two of our funding priorities – education and culture,” she said.

“We are thrilled to be part of a project which will bring the Music Network Scheme nationwide as it is a proven success and has wide-ranging support from Government as well as the music education establishment. We believe that the program will make a huge contribution to music education in Ireland."

Music Network has much experience in running this type of developmental program and the scheme is set to begin in 2010, with emphasis on popular, traditional, classical and jazz music.

“The study that we carried out in 2003 identified serious gaps in Irish musical education and we have been working since then to advocate for a practical solution to address these gaps,” said Chief Executive of Music Network Deirdre McRea.

“The pilot schemes, run in Donegal and Dublin over the last four years with Department of Education & Science support, have demonstrated that our model is a viable one and we now look forward to rolling out the scheme successfully on a nationwide basis."