Young musicians protest against council plans to cut instrumental tuition

SCOTLAND may lose a whole generation of musical talent, in the wake of swingeing cuts by local authorities.

Tutors and their students will demonstrate over a proposed 25 per cent reduction in instrumental education, outside council headquarters in Fife on Thursday.

In a bid to save 400,000, Fife has announced major cuts to almost every area of its education service, including reducing music tuition by a quarter.

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Midlothian is to cut its music service by 48,000 this year, then 125,000 the following year and has proposed removing all instrument instruction from primary schools, while Shetland, which has never charged for instrumental lessons, will ask parents to contribute from August, and East Ayrshire is to introduce charging in a bid to save 50,000.

And Stirling, Highland and Perth and Kinross are all planning to raise fees, while Edinburgh plans to cut six full-time instrumental staff.

Accomplished musicians have said that without local authority music services, they would never have learned to play their instruments.

Kirsty Howe, 21, from St Andrews, has just won a place at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London after first picking up the French horn aged nine.

She said: "I started through Fife music instruction because it was brought to the school. That's the only way I would have picked it up. I just really enjoyed it and stuck with it.

"It was really Fife music instruction that made me decide to do music."

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She plans to be at the protest on Thursday and described the cuts as "shocking".

Rory Boyd, 19, first became a cellist at the age of eight through Fife's music service.

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He said he would never have won his place to study German and Dutch at Cambridge without music.

He said: "It was one of my Advanced Highers and I had to get three As and a B to get in and music was one of those subjects."

Boyd will be at Thursday's protest and also criticised the decision to make the cuts.

He said: "It's atrocious.

Fife has always had a proud tradition of music and it looks like that might change."

Meanwhile Scotland's celebrated percussionist Evelyn Glennie is backing a campaign by the country's largest teaching union, the EIS, to prevent cuts to music education.

Douglas Chapman, chair of Fife's education committee, said the council was still investing 1.2 million in music tuition, which he described as a "huge commitment".

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He added: "We will continue to explore opportunities including sponsorship, redesign of the music service and partnership working to keep music in our schools alive."