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Scotland’s music tuition demise laid bare

The demise of music tuition in Scotland’s schools will be laid bare at a Holyrood committee tomorrow.

Experts will describe the impact of escalating costs to parents as “chilling”, while others warn of a “cliff edge” in relation to “prohibitive costs” for less well-off families.

The Education and Skills Committee will be presented with a series of submissions from stakeholders about the rising costs of music lessons in school, as well as the “postcode lottery” from council to council.

MSPs will be shown statistics that show the number of music tutors working in schools has almost halved since 2007, from 1043 to just 667 last year.

As a result, fewer pupils have studied music over that period of time.

Tudor Morris, director of the City of Edinburgh Music School, said in his submission: “Undoubtedly, pupils from low-income households will feature in the musical culture of Scotland less and less. That prospect is chilling to me.”

The organisation Connect (formerly the Scottish Parent Teacher Council) pointed to survey findings which show 86 per cent of parents felt playing a musical instrument boosted their child’s self-confidence, while 83 per cent valued it for the teaching of self-discipline and personal responsibility.

The Music Education Partnership Group stated: “School is where most children encounter their first learning opportunity in music. Diminish this core and everything else will suffer. And this core, with relation to the instrumental music component, is in clear and present danger.”

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland said: “This leads us to reflect on the future, and to foresee the cliff edge that is an inevitable outcome of instrumental tuition fees that prove prohibitive for certain sectors of society now.”

One music teacher of 13 years even said, had the current system been in place when they were at school, they would never have been in the position to learn an instrument.

And an anonymous parent from Clackmannanshire, which has been repeatedly highlighted as one of the most expensive council areas for music tuition, spoke of how their son was forced to give up learning because of the prohibitive costs.

They said: “Unfortunately, as like most others, this wasn’t affordable to us at this time, so we had to tell our son that he would no longer get instrumental lessons. Our son, being of primary school age, couldn’t understand why he could no longer have his lessons and got increasingly bewildered and distraught. As we couldn’t pay for lessons, our son was advised to hand his instrument back to the school, which was heart-wrenching to make him do as he kept crying.”

Scottish Conservative shadow education secretary Liz Smith said:

“This shows a range of people – experts, music tutors and parents alike – coming together to expose the demise of music tuition in Scotland’s schools over the last decade.

“There’s a clear link between the drop in tutor numbers and the decline in pupils picking up an instrument, and the spiralling charges are making that worse still.

“It’s time for all political parties to look at the evidence and take these stark warnings on board.

“Learning a musical instrument can create a wealth of opportunities for young people which they would otherwise be denied.

“If education really is the SNP’s top priority, and closing the attainment gap a key strand of that, this situation has to be addressed immediately.”



Notes to editors:


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