Musical instrument tuition campaign to be taken to Scottish Parliament

Many councils now charge children to learn instruments at school.
Many councils now charge children to learn instruments at school.
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A former member of indie band Belle and Sebastian is to join campaigners fighting for free musical instrument tuition in Scotland’s schools to speak to MSPs at the Scottish Parliament tomorrow.

A petition, which has 9,860 signatures, will be considered by the Public Petitions Committee at its meeting tomorrow morning. Mick Cooke, who played trumpet in the Glasgow-based band until 2013, will address the committee alongside campaign head Ralph Riddiough.

A number of council areas recently introduced - or increased - fees for children to learn musical instruments at school, with one council pushing charges up higher or group lessons than a private lesson would cost outside of school. Clackmannanshire council said in June it was to double the cost of lessons to £524 a year – or £17.50 per half hour class - prompting parents to cancel their child's tuition.

A total of 23 councils now bill parents for musical instrument lessons, with annual prices currently ranging from £117 in Inverclyde to £318 in the Highlands, while a few charge a fee for the annual hire of instruments.

Mr Riddiough said: “It is a widely recognised fact that there are enormous educational benefits to learning to play a musical instrument and so the investment will pay rich dividends in terms of closing the attainment gap and stretching our most gifted students - in short, providing a powerful tool to ensure we are ‘getting it right for every child’.”

“These benefits should not be vulnerable to cuts and charges. They are too important, and should be available to, and accessible by, all children in Scotland, not only some. Fees are divisive. State schools should be inclusive.”

A flash mob of musicians, conducted by Blair Parham, MD of the Scottish Fiddle Orchestra, is due to appear outside of the parliament tomorrow morning.