In 1993, Bob developed the Cork Academy of Music as a voluntary organization to provide a school of music in the north side of Cork City and provide training in music skills to a certified qualification standard.
The north side of Cork City always had a music tradition, but, from Bob’s experience he was aware of a fall off in standards due to the changing trends in music. He also observed a decrease in people’s ability to read music. Bob felt there was a need to confront this. Cork at this time also had very high unemployment, with the north side being a particular black spot. Bob set out to try and turnaround people’s lives and to let them see that education was a way in which they could change their circumstances.
The Cork Academy of Music was established as a voluntary initiative in 1994 to provide an access route to music education for people who are socially, economically or culturally disadvantaged.
It aims to provide training in music skills to residents of the north side of Cork City, helping to raise the educational expectations and awareness of its students and working with them to realise their full potential in life.
To date the Cork Academy of Music boasts over 2000 successful students who have achieved internationally recognised standards through the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. Over sixty students have successfully completed 3rd Level Education and a number of past students have progressed to Post Graduate Level in Universities in Ireland and abroad. Former students have returned as tutors of music, and many have obtained gainful employment in the Music Industry.
Alongside its teaching programme, the Academy provides music and singing classes to local schools in Cork City and County as part of its outreach work as well as a new initiative targeting young people at risk and early school leavers. It provides them with the opportunity to gain a FETAC Level 4 Major Award in addition to tuition in Music skills and performance. The results achieved by the Academy are an example of how, with non-exorbitant sums of money, disadvantage can be overturned and people can reach their full potential.
Bob has also been instrumental in the development of an International Jazz Summer School which is now in its 7th year. This course brings students from throughout Europe to Cork and has developed into a cultural event for the city. Bob is a recipient of The Community and Voluntary Award and the AIB Better Ireland Award. He was also awarded a Gold Medal and Citation for his work in the community, alongside an All Ireland Inspirational Life Award which was presented by Mary McAleese.