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Top north-east music stars beat the drum to welcome free tuition

Dame Evelyn Glennie has welcomed the Scottish Government's announcement.
Dame Evelyn Glennie has welcomed the Scottish Government's announcement.

Leading lights from the world of music in the north-east have welcomed plans to make music tuition free to all pupils.

The move has been made possible due to £7 million from the Scottish Government meaning families will not need to splash out if children want to learn an instrument.

Education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said the cash boost would cover the 2021-22 academic year with hopes a funding model could be developed for the future.

Dame Evelyn Glennie is backing the Scottish Government decision to fund lessons for budding musicians.

Renowned percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie said there is “no better way” to help youngsters make a start than by introducing them to music.

She is widely regarded as the first person in history to successfully create and sustain a full-time career as a solo percussionist despite being profoundly deaf.

Dame Evelyn said: “This is brilliant news. There is no better way to give our young people the best start in life than to engage with music.

“I’m delighted the Scottish Government has made this crucial decision. We can look forward to nourishing families with this core element that glues society.”

Aberdeen University professor hails funding move

Paul Mealor feels music has helped during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Aberdeen University professor and royal composer Paul Mealor said he was “delighted” that fees would be waived in time for free music tuition in the next school year.

In 2012, a piece he wrote was performed by the choirs of Westminster Abbey and Her Majesty’s Chapel Royal, at the Westminster Abbey wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Professor Mealor said: “‘This is extremely welcome news. Music is for everyone, not just those who can afford to pay for lessons. Music has been proved to assist with many aspects of education, learning, concentration and wellbeing.

“I am delighted with the Scottish Government committing to this and hope it is the beginning of a greater commitment to arts and culture for all.

“After all, in lockdown along with watching sports on TV, drama, TV, music and literature have kept us all going.”

Columnist and vocal coach Yvie Burnett is ‘grateful’ the cash has been made available.

Aberdeen soprano and Press & Journal columnist Yvie Burnett has also backed the move and said she is “extremely grateful” it is happening.

She said: “It’s so lovely to have good news for families with children who want to learn an instrument from a young age that this will be funded and won’t be yet another financial burden on parents.

“So many children whose parents can’t afford to give them these opportunities would miss out and this might well open the door for careers in music for these kids.

“It can also give them confidence and life experience from participating in orchestras or music groups which is unrivalled.

“I’m extremely grateful that this is happening”

Additional funding for ‘core curriculum’ courses

Education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville.

As well as free music tuition, the Scottish Government is also providing an extra £6 million to scrap charges in so-called core curriculum courses meaning families will not have to pay for items like ingredients for home economics classes or theatre trips for drama studies.

Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said the cash – which fulfils pledges made in the SNP’s election manifesto – meant that youngsters’ education would no longer be limited by their family’s ability to pay.

She said: “My priority is to ensure the best possible outcomes for all of Scotland’s children and young people, whatever their background.

“All children should have the best start in life and the ability to take part in core elements of education should never be limited by a child’s ability to pay.

“Today’s announcement means families will not see bills for musical tuition or core curriculum activities in the new school year.”

Earlier this year, Moray Council announced it was slashing 30% off music tuition fees after bosses heard that many people had stopped playing musical instruments during the pandemic.

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