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Musicians’ Union Responds with Anger to Plan by Midlothian Council to Sever Music Tuition in its Schools

The Musicians’ Union (MU) has expressed its consternation at the announcement by Midlothian Council that it is set to entirely axe all musical instrument tuition in its schools - bar for children who are studying for Higher or National Five exams in the subject. This will make it the first local authority in Scotland to take such unwelcome action.

It is believed that the proposals, which would see no children below S4 level at high school offered instrument tuition, will be disclosed next week in advance of the Council’s budget meeting on 12 February.

Caroline Sewell, MU Regional Organiser, said:

“We are hugely concerned on hearing today’s news from Midlothian Council.

“This is devastating for the cultural future of the area, the instrumental teachers especially, as three-quarters are set to lose their post under these proposals, and of course for the children who are set to lose a vital opportunity to learn an instrument purely because of their postcode.

“We have grave concerns that this could create a domino effect in other local authorities, some of whom are charging exorbitant amounts of money, which many parents simply cannot afford.

“Moray Council, for example, has just stated its intent to increase charges to £699 a year, which is the highest in Scotland. This fiscal barrier to learning is not sustainable and creates an environment where the ability to learn an instrument is only reserved for those who can afford it.”

Caroline continued:

“This creeping eradication of instrumental music provision will not only have a devastating impact on numerous children’s learning, development and opportunity, but also affect the professional opportunities available for the dwindling numbers of our instrumental teachers and ultimately the wider musical and cultural output of Scotland.”

Horace Trubridge, MU General Secretary, said:

“The research we released last year showed how access to music tuition was increasingly becoming the privilege of only those can afford it.

“The news from Midlothian is therefore extremely disappointing as it will be the young people who are unable to afford music lessons who will be affected the most.

“Music education should be part of any young person’s broad and balanced curriculum and it is very disappointing to hear that councils are now making these decisions in order to be seen to balance budgets.”

Research released by the MU in October 2018 showed that children from low-income families are half as likely to learn an instrument. Read more about the MU’s call for every child to have access to free instrumental music lessons in schools.

Published: 04/02/2019

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