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Release of New Report on Music Education in Scotland Highlights Concerns

What’s Going on Now? (WGON) is a major examination of music education and youth music making in Scotland and builds on research published in 2003 titled ‘What’s Going On?’.

Child sits at piano

What’s Going on Now? (WGON)

The Musicians’ Union (MU) have been heavily involved in the new research project which was commissioned by the Music Education Partnership Group and pulls together findings and recommendations for music education in Scotland.

The research includes a range of data on music education from specially designed surveys, collation and analysis of existing data on music education and three detailed case studies.

The findings highlight ongoing concerns over the charges for instrumental music and the unmet demand from young people looking to access instrumental music in schools – something that the MU has been regularly campaigning and lobbying on.

Key statistics

Some key statistics include:

  • In 2017-18 60,000 young people received tuition from the Instrumental Music Services, which represents a 10% increase since the last research in 2003
  • In 2016/17 around 244,00 young people took part in the Youth Music Initiative
  • The proportions of pupils receiving tuition through the Instrumental Music Service varies widely between local authorities but the average number has stayed roughly constant from the last research in 2003 of around 8-9%
  • Since 2003 the number of local authorities charging for instrumental music has risen from 15 to 25 and the average fee has risen from £102 to £220 with the maximum fee increasing from £308 to £524
  • There is estimated to be an unmet demand of 100,000 young people that would like to access their Instrumental Music Service

The statistics above lay bare the alarming increase in fees over the last 15 years. The MU has been actively campaigning on the disparity between local authorities and what is being described as the ‘postcode lottery’ with regards to paying for music tuition.

Recommendations made by the report

The report itself makes four key recommendations:

1. Common guidance for Instrumental Music Service across all Local Authorities

2. Change perceptions of music and its purpose to widen the understanding of the personal, social and community benefits of making music

3. To realise the potential of music in schools by developing a programme of activity to build on the Youth Music Initiative

4. Facilitate new experiences and opportunities through increased partnership working of formal, non-formal, public and private agencies

New report uncovers very worrying statistics

Caroline Sewell, Regional Organiser, MU Scotland & Northern Ireland responded:

“We wholeheartedly welcome this research which picks up from research produced in 2003.

"The findings highlight some important information and quite frankly, very worrying statistics regarding the sharp increase in the number of local authorities now imposing charges for instrumental music tuition and the worrying rate at which the charges themselves have increased.

“It has never been more important for the value of music and learning an instrument to be fully recognised – there is endless research which supports the positive impact learning an instrument can have on other areas of academic study and that we are facing a poverty related attainment gap in Scotland.

“Yet, our poorest students face an insurmountable fiscal barrier, ensuring that instrumental learning remains increasingly for those who can afford it.”

Read the full report on the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland's website.

Published: 28/03/2019

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