Page last updated at 19:10 GMT, Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Value of instrumental music tuition debate

Labour MSP Iain Gray called on the Scottish government to open the door to free music tuition for all of Scotland's pupils, which led to an announcement of a review by the minister for skills and learning.

Mr Gray made the plea during his member's debate on the value of instrumental music tuition on 28 November 2012.

According to Mr Gray, 24 of Scotland's 32 local authorities charge up to £340 per year for instrumental music tuition and he said every child in Scotland should have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument.

In a heartfelt speech, the former Scottish Labour leader painted a picture of how music and song enriches the lives of even those in the most war torn countries in the world.

He recounted time he spent in Cambodia immediately after the fall of the Khmer Rouge, he said "the people of Cambodia were opening schools of dance and music but they understood the Khmer Rouge killed the musicians first".

He conjured up familiar memories for many parents expressing the pride when they see their children on stage, instrument in hand, "conjuring beauty out of thin air."

But he came back to his main point, the message that school is not just about exams, learning an instrument is enriching for pupils and he warned removing free tuition makes "our ambitions for our children very narrow indeed".

Learning and Skills Minister Alasdair Allan closed the debate saying "I absolutely agree music and learning to play a musical instrument can play a key role in a child's education."

Mr Allan stressed that no child should be denied the chance to develop their musical talent due to their background.

He said provision of instruments provided in schools varied across Scotland as did charging for musical instrument tuition.

The minister said: "This government is committed to working with local authorities to find a way forward in this matter.

"We need to establish greater clarity regarding the position on charging for instrumental music tuition around the country and our first priority is to examine the position for pupils undertaking SQA national qualifications."

Mr Allan said Scotland on Sunday's Let the Children Play Campaign had raised a number of important issues as had the debate at Holyrood.

He said: "I am committed to to finding solutions to the issues raised by the campaign."

The minister added: "The matter of the provision of instrumental music tuition in schools, something which varies widely in Scotland and is a complicated matter, is one that the government is committed to examining in detail."

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