‘No saving’ in closing famous Edinburgh music school

Music school students in Edinburgh. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Music school students in Edinburgh. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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Closing a world-renowned music school in the centre of Edinburgh to redistribute musical education elsewhere in the city will prevent children from accessing tuition across the country, according to a group leading the charge to save the institution.

Campaigners say Edinburgh’s cash-strapped council has been “deceptive” in its claim that shutting the esteemed City of Edinburgh Music School and re-homing it in four schools across the capital will allow greater access to musical education.

They also said the council had overlooked the fact the school provides a “national centre of excellence” for musically gifted children from all over Scotland.

The local authority hopes to save as much as £383,000 through the closure of the school, which helped launch the early musical careers of Garbage lead singer Shirley Manson and Celtic fusion star Martyn Bennett.

Lindsay Law, vice-chairman of the parent council at Broughton High and Flora Stevenson Primary, said: “The proposals put forward by the council are a cut to both the instrumental music service, which has a wide reach, and the national centre of excellence, which has a narrower reach because of the type of education it provides to children who are musically gifted.

“We feel the council are being deceptive in that the proposal that they are making will cut both services and neither increase equity or improve excellence across the city and will deny the rest of Scotland access to what was a national centre of excellence.”

Ms Law continued: “It’ll be damaging to pupils who want to come into general instrumental tuition. It won’t spread that any further than already exists. In fact, it will concentrate it in some localities, which means children may find it harder to access that tuition, especially if they have additional support needs or if they are in areas of the city where travel costs would cause an issue.”

The campaign to save the school has already received backing from alumni including jazz legend Tommy Smith and cellist Julian Lloyd-­Webber.

Pupils protested outside the city chambers over the weekend, holding an impromptu performance at the entrance to the building.

Tony Gutierrez, who has two children at the school, added: “I don’t know if the council realise how big a part this school plays in the lives of the children and parents around it. We relocated from Balerno so our children could attend, but some have come from ­further – England, across Europe. This is a huge part of their lives.”