Music can play a critical role in a child’s development

THE launch of Scotland on Sunday’s Let the Children Play campaign is very welcome indeed. Young people spend more time listening to, talking about, or making music than any other creative pursuit.

The Musicians’ Union, alongside many others, is concerned about the future of instrumental music services across Scotland as cuts and the introduction of fees has impacted on the accessibility of lessons.

For many young people access and participation in music-making is only available through school. Music can play a critical role in young people’s development, not simply in encouraging creativity and musical development, but also building self-confidence and emotional well-being.

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Learning an instrument and making music should be at the very heart of our young people’s education.

Sheena Macdonald,

regional organiser

Musicians’ Union Scotland & Northern Ireland

WE are a family who have greatly benefited from the generosity of West Lothian. My daughter, Sarah, is about to start a B Ed (Mus) at RCS thanks to the funding she
received as a youngster and the encouragement of the instrumental services team in West Lothian.

We have never paid a penny for her tuition through primary and secondary school and when Sarah was accepted for RCS Junior Conservatoire they also paid a third of her annual fees while she was there.

My young sister lives in Larkhall, one of the most needy communities in Scotland, and I was amazed to find that my niece Sophie needs to pay for her tuition if she takes up playing an instrument. One family, but the opportunities could not be more different.

Isobel Lockhart,


I THINK one of the major barriers to getting free instrumental tuition is that music is seen as an elitist, difficult activity for the talented minority.

Many people tend to think that playing an instrument is much trickier than it actually is. I would compare it to learning to swim or ride a bike or drive a car. When you start out it seems impossibly difficult, but with a bit of perseverance and the right help/tuition (and this is where you do need specialist teachers) it’s something that almost everyone can do. We’re not all going to be Evelyn Glennie or Nicola Benedetti any more than we’re all going to be Jensen Button or Bradley Wiggins, but that shouldn’t stop us taking part.

I don’t understand why the research you quoted in your article is so systematically
ignored. It is expensive to provide instrumental tuition, but surely the results must be worth it. Isn’t El Sistema proof enough? Why are only children in Raploch getting the input that all children deserve?

Let’s have free instrumental tuition for everyone.

Cathy McCallum,

managing director,

Musical Steps

St Andrews