Scotland on Sunday’s campaign receives an overwhelming response from readers

I AM a music tutor based in Drymen. I’m originally from Lochgelly, Fife. I was taught by the local brass band and also received free tuition from the local authority including fully funded residential courses.

I now teach primarily in private schools but have worked for various authorities throughout Scotland, including East Dumbartonshire, North Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire and Perth and Kinross. I went to the RSAMD for five years and am a part-time teacher, part-time freelance musician.

I’m massively supportive of your campaign. I have seen first hand, good young musicians no longer being able to continue their education due to financial circumstances. I’ve seen professional teachers, people who have spent huge amounts of time learning to do their job professionally and comprehensively, teach pupils for free just to avoid letting talent go to waste. If it was another subject perhaps there would be more of an uproar, but that doesn’t mean something can’t be done about the gradual execution of the musical soul of the country.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Kenny Letham, Drymen

I was involved in music education for over 35 years as a principal teacher of music in a big secondary school in Aberdeen and I saw enormous changes in the provision of instrumental music in that time. When I started in the mid 1960s the provision was scanty with all instruments available in the senior secondary schools, while in the junior secondary sector we had brass band tuition, which was good.

Gradually, with the introduction of comprehensive education, the spread of cover became much better and in the 1970s and 1980s we saw a very high standard of performance in both solo and ensemble work. However, as things became more difficult, fees went up and the chance for music for all became more of a dream than a reality. We were able to arrange free lessons under the umbrella of what we now know as SQA.

The provision of instrumental instruction for all children is neither realistic nor feasible but the need for some sort of national standard of both provision and charging would be desirable. This is a very worthwhile cause and I hope that SoS has success in putting pressure on local authorities and the Scottish government.

Neil Meldrum, Aberdeen

As a child I learned to play cello in Aberdeen and I played all the way through school and achieved a Grade 8 with merit. I had many fantastic experiences playing in various instrumental groups from trios to symphony orchestras. I travelled to the USA with my secondary school orchestra and had many residential experiences in Scotland.

I am now a parent and my children are both lucky enough to be benefiting from East Lothian’s instrumental tuition policy. They both recently started to play in the Fiddlesticks Orchestra in Dunbar and enjoy the experience of playing music with others. I feel that there are many benefits from learning an instrument and I would like to see more children given the opportunities that my children and others in East Lothian receive.

Lesley McPheat, Dunbar.

I have to say I’m appalled and disappointed. I brought my daughter back to Scotland as I believed she would get good exposure to music and culture through being here, but school has become as mechanistic as anywhere else in the world. I even went to see a Gaelic school to see if she could get more exposure to music there and they don’t even have funding for it there. I will have to pay for it somehow. Can’t even find Scottish dance/step dance lessons anywhere near me. There’s plenty of American hip hop and modern derivatives but can’t get Scottish culture, music or dance in Scottish schools.

A concerned parent.

Pupil this morning: “Got some bad news, I’m actually gutted. My mum and dad can’t pay for trumpet lessons as they can’t afford it along with my piano outside school.” And what can I respond with?

An instrumental music teacher

My 6-year-old has been taking piano lessons since February. It has helped her develop, but its very expensive and has hit me hard in the pocket. I’d recommend parents ensure their children get lessons rather than the new hip clothes and trainers. I feel it’s better for a child to have an experience than gifts. Music lessons you can carry with you forever.

Richard Ayre

Fife has a tutor in some primary schools who is teaching the bagpipes. This has achieved a great deal in the last six months of being introduced. It is free in the Cowdenbeath area and six players have managed to get into our band and go on to compete in the world championships this year.

Dusty Miller

Love this campaign. It could make a real difference.

Shona Main

All kids should have an entitlement to music education in school including free musical tuition regardless of council authority. Come on Mr Salmond – make it so!

Al Barnard

Haven’t we been here before? The Youth Music Initiative came out – remember Jack McConnell saying all children should have access to at least 1 year free music instruction by P6 way back in 2003 or 2004?

The Scottish Government’s YMI fund continues and supports free music instruction in schools.

If you want all instrumental music to be free in schools then let’s not reinvent the wheel – the discussions on how to make

it happen are well documented between Creative Scotland who manage the Youth Music Initiative fund, the Govern-ment and local authorities.

Iain Fraser

Great campaign! I am a woodwind teacher who applauds all efforts to give QUALITY tuition to all children.

Gwen Kelso


@brucerisk: This is an excellent campaign! Music and music makers have been part of ­human life since time began! #listentothepoets #smile

@DrakeMusicScot: So important for children with disabilities & support needs to have the same musical and develop-mental opportunities too.

@Pauline_McNeill: Superb. Well done SOS we need champions for right to learn musical instrument, stop it being elite subject.

@emmadrum: Tuition MUST be free. Any charge is too much for some families: if you have no money, the number on the bill is irrelevant.

@Alison2812: Councils underestimate benefits of music tuition – intellectual, discipline, teamwork.

@ladamson01: As a former beneficiary, great campaign. Power of music for all not to be underestimated.