Parents vote for musical instrument lesson charges

Parents in West Lothian are keen to keep their kids' music lessons, even it means paying for them. Picture: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Parents in West Lothian are keen to keep their kids' music lessons, even it means paying for them. Picture: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
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Parents in West Lothian have voted to save string and percussion tuition - even if it means bringing in charges for all youngsters learning instruments.

The local authority recently proposed to axe the two types of musical instruments, saying it was the only way they could keep music lessons free.

However, a survey of families carried out following the intervention of the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, who had expressed concern that children’s human rights had been breached and urged the Council to carry out a consultation, has found that 53.34 per cent voted in favour of the introduction of charging across all disciplines in order to save strings and percussion tuition.

The campaign to retain full instrument provision in West Lothian has been supported by famous names including percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie, the composer John Rutter and the violinist, Nicola Benedetti.

West Lothian is one of many Scottish councils which are cutting back - or charging higher prices - on instrument tuition, amid widespread budget cuts for local authorities.

Yvonne Hall, spokeswoman for the Save Our Strings campaign, said: “We are absolutely thrilled by this result. This shows just how important IMS is to families in West Lothian and it is a clear message to the Council to not cut our strings and percussion tuition.”

She added: “However, this still needs to be accepted and voted on by the Education Executive next Tuesday. As a campaign team, we will be pressing for the Education Executive to respect the vote by the affected families and work towards minimising the required charges. We will also be encouraging them to work with us to develop a Charitable Trust for the management of the Instrumental Music Service going forward because we believe this model will give us the best opportunity to develop, not dismantle, music tuition in West Lothian.”

A West Lothian Council spokesman said: “Thank you to all the young people and their families who took part in the survey and engagement exercise. Your views are important, and will be considered by the members of the education executive.

“We are one of very few local authorities in Scotland, who still offer free instrumental music tuition, with the majority of councils now charging for lessons. Instrumental music is not a statutory service.”