Youth brass bands have doubled in five years

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The number of youth brass bands has almost doubled over the past five years with Scotland now home to the biggest dedicated festival in the world.

The Scottish Government has taken credit for a revival of the 200-year-old musical tradition, which grew out of Scotland’s once-thriving industrial trades.

Brass bands have been on the wane since the 1960s, with the decline of traditional industries, leaving just 74 by 2007. But government support has contributed to the creation of a further 55 bands with places for an additional 1,700 young musicians.

The government’s youth music initiative (YMI) has also led to the Scottish Youth Brass Band Championships growing to become the biggest youth brass band event in the world.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s championships in Perth, Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “The YMI is all about creating opportunities for young people to get involved in music – and the Scottish Brass Band 
Association has given an additional 1,700 young brass and percussion players the opportunity to play regularly in ensembles in every corner of Scotland.

“Thanks to this dramatic revival, the Scottish Youth Festival of Brass has grown to become the biggest youth brass band event in the world. It is due to successes like this that I have protected funding for the Youth Music Initiative at £10 million 
a year.”

George Burt, president of the Scottish Brass Band Association, said: “We are very grateful for the support from YMI over the past five years, which has enabled us to deliver a very cost-effective development programme, enabling young people to play in ensembles and progress seamlessly through stages of excellence that will give them a musical experience for the rest of their lives. Scotland is the envy of the world for what we have been able to achieve.”

YMI is delivered by Creative Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Government.