SCOTTISH rock group Frightened Rabbit have thrown their weight behind Scotland on Sunday’s Let The Children Play campaign to scrap fees for instrumental music tuition, claiming the band wouldn’t exist had they not received free music lessons at school.
Brothers Scott, 31, and Grant Hutchison, 28, the band’s singer/guitarist and drummer respectively, learned their instruments at Selkirk High School and say they would have never have become full-time musicians without it. The band, who have released three albums, recently completed a sell-out tour of the US.
“Frightened Rabbit would not exist without the music tuition we received,” said Grant Hutchison in a video recorded exclusively for ScotlandonSunday.com. “What I learnt from six years in high school is invaluable.”
Scott Hutchison added: “I don’t know what I’d be doing – in fact I hate to think what I’d be doing – without it.”
Scotland on Sunday’s Let The Children Play campaign is aimed at scrapping tuition fees for instrumental music lessons in schools. A postcode lottery system across Scotland’s local authorities means children in 24 out of 32 Scottish councils are currently being charged between £95 and £340 a year for instrumental music lessons, with five councils also charging children who sit SQA music exams, even though playing an instrument can count for up to 60 per cent of the exam.
The Hutchison brothers learned to play their instruments at a school which now charges children £125 per year to receive instrumental lessons and imposes a £58 instrument hire on top of that. They were joined by their mother, Marion Hutchison, a retired teacher who also believes strongly that children should not be charged to learn.
“The discipline of practice is really beneficial, it gives you something to focus on [while growing up],” she said. “It’s a great leveller. It’s really not something that any child should be charged for. It’s very unfair.”
Scott Hutchison added: “To be charged to have access to something like that is ridiculous. It seems it’s a basic educational right.”
The band are embarking on a UK tour next year and will release their latest album, Pedestrian Verse, in February.
Grant Hutchison said: “It’s an important thing in music that should never be lost which is the inclusivity of everyone being able to pick [an instrument] up regardless of your financial status or your academic intelligence in other areas. And to have massive fees for someone trying to learn to play the drums, to not get the opportunities we’ve had from it, is ridiculous.”
Since launching in September the campaign has attracted a wide range of celebrity support.