Dame Evelyn Glennie, the Scottish virtuoso percussionist

“All children should be offered free music tuition – the immense benefits to their lives, careers and social skills are very well documented. Teaching music at school can no longer be a lottery but an essential part of our learning process.”

Nicola Benedetti, leading violinist

“The capacity for having some relation to music, whether that means as an informed listener, or with having a rhythmic understanding, or with someone who can sing, or someone that has a natural feel for an instrument, the diversity of what constitutes a ‘musical child’ would stretch to most kids.

“That kind of creativity and openness, combined with being challenged by something difficult, that’s where music is so uniquely placed because it combines the two absolutely opposite parts of the brain and gets them firing at the one time. It’s so obvious to me, that it is something that it should be for everybody.”

Corrina Hewat, Scottish harpist and composer

“I would never have played the clarsach, never even dreamt of it as a possibility, had it not been for the free lessons I received as my family could not afford lessons.

“I learned the fiddle, the piano, and the clarsach.

“I hired an instrument and I was grateful that was possible as again, it was something far outwith my family’s resources. I gained new friends and a new world to inhabit, I learnt to communicate through music and write music.

“I learnt to immerse myself in music which helped me throughout my teenage years, living in the Highlands in the middle of nowhere!

“It empowers and supports growth and well-being, it builds confidence and self-esteem.

“Learning to coordinate fingers and brain, working with others, learning the art of listening and respecting others - music is so much more than ‘just music lessons’ and I’ll be forever grateful. Music tuition should be available and free for all ages. It’s part and parcel of being human - living and breathing, expressing ourselves. What would we be left with when the music stops?”

Katherine Wren, viola player for the RSNO

“I have been teaching violin, viola and music theory as long as I have been performing, both privately and for Perth Council as well as the RCS outreach programme, “Musicworks.” Time and again I have seen the huge benefits music tuition brings to young people of all backgrounds, regardless of the level they achieve.

“It’s not just about producing the professional musicians of the future - learning music enhances self-esteem, especially important for those who may not excel academically or in the sporting arena, it provides an emotional outlet for those who find it difficult to express themselves verbally and it helps children build social groups.

“Nowhere has this been more evident to me than during a period of work in Greenland, a country closely allied to Denmark, which places a huge emphasis on free and cheap musical tuition for all.

“In a country with a blend of ethnic groups and disparate languages (Danish, Inuit and children of migrant workers from countries such as Holland and Russia) as well as its fair share of social problems, it provides an opportunity for children to learn together through the shared, universal language of music, coming together in orchestras and bands where they can play (in all senses of the word) together and create something beautiful that they can be proud of.

“Without free access to music tuition, we risk making this joyous aspect of human experience the preserve of the well-off.”

RSNO Principal Trombone Dávur Juul Magnussen

“There is ample evidence that listening and playing music teaches the brain to work on complicated and abstract tasks. It trains us to use several areas of our brain at the same time.

“A great benefit in itself. However, what heartens me the most when I teach is seeing how music develops a whole range of soft skills in children. Soft skills which are under threat in our modern society.

“I regularly see right in front of me children learning how to work as a team and learning to communicate well. How to express themselves confidently while at the same time being able to accept others points of view. Music does this particularly well since it happens tacitly as a side-effect of producing good performances.

“Elite music training is not just for elite musicians and should be available to everyone for at least part of their life.

“More than that, it should fit in to a great breadth stimulating activities in any person’s life. Countries and cultures all do this in many ways, but Britain has for a long time been a role model for others. It is a position we should strive to uphold.”

Tudor Morris, director of the City of Edinburgh Music School

Talent is not handed out by postcode. The cultural history of Scotland has been permanently enriched by the creative genius of individuals from less advantaged backgrounds.

But, how many more would have done something with their talent had they been born to a different household? And, more worryingly, how many talented musicians will go unheard in the future as a result of local authorities charging for music tuition?

As with any cultural endeavour, music-making takes a great deal of time and consistent work to get to the stage where a young person can confidently understand, interpret and perform music.

If a young person lives in a community that values, and freely gives time and effort to do this they will thrive. However, this leads to small pockets of culturally advantaged communities.

If we in Scotland believe that music-making is a cultural entitlement for everyone according to their individual needs and talent, then instrumental tuition must be made available to all fairly and equally.

The problem with charging for music tuition is not about just a few people affording a relatively small payment. It is the fact up to half of the normal uptake will probably fall away due to that payment, and the whole culture in that area will be affected. It will, once more, be weighted towards the bourgeois.

Providing help for free school meals pupils and Scottish Qualifications Authority music students is politically meritable, but in reality, if a student has not received free instrumental tuition before S3 they will not be in a situation to be able to consider it.

Another consequence is that certain instruments are becoming rare or even extinct because other instruments are, by their nature, more accessible, affordable and easier to teach in groups and classrooms.

Pupils in independent schools will be able to continue much as they are, but undoubtedly pupils from low-income households will feature in the musical culture of Scotland less and less. Instrumental tuition is expensive, and not a matter of life and death, but to deny it to all is to create an unfair cultural landscape in Scotland.

Stuart MacRae, leading Scottish composer

“Yes, I would definitely support free music tuition for all school pupils.

“Learning an instrument was the most enriching, enjoyable and challenging part of my education.

“I started flute lessons at the age of 12, which was a little late, but if it hadn’t been for free tuition, and music ensembles supported by the council, I wouldn’t have been able to have a career in music now.

“This is the most important point: participating in music should be for everyone, not just those with the means to pay for it - it’s a part of developing ourselves and our culture, and linking us to the wider world.”

Alison Thornton, president of the Educational Institute of Scotland

We believe that music tuition should be free to all children who wish to take part. It is alarming to hear of children dropping out of music lessons because they simply cannot afford to take part.

These young people are missing out on two fronts: on the many benefits that are intrinsic to learning a musical instrument, and on the wider cognitive, social and

emotional, including mental health, benefits which impact positively on achievement and attainment in school beyond the curricular area of music.

The benefits to be reaped from learning a musical instrument are lifelong. The disadvantage resultant from being denied access to this valuable learning is also, therefore, lifelong. This is unacceptable injustice.

It is hard to see how this aligns with the agenda to pursue ‘excellence and equity’ across the Scottish education system that the Scottish Government has articulated over recent years.

We would argue that rather than striving to enhance excellence and equity, it appears that many local authorities’ budgeting decisions are reducing young

people’s opportunities and increasing inequality. This cannot continue.

We find it very concerning that concession policies are so variable and that children’s access to music tuition can depend so greatly on family income, which part of Scotland they live in and how their home authority has defined its approach to expanding access.

Learning an instrument should not be characterised as extra-curricular. This thinking has contributed to gross under-investment in music education in recent years and inequitable access to music tuition.

It is clear to us that if music tuition charges continue to rise, that pupils’ subject choices will increasingly be guided, indeed curtailed, by a financial rather than an educational motive and that children from lower income families will have less access to qualifications in music than their more affluent peers. That is not equitable.

We firmly believes that universal comprehensive education is a public good and therefore should be delivered as a public service free at the point of use, and that

charging for aspects of education is incompatible with the principles of comprehensive education.

Donald Shaw, Capercailie musician and creative producer of Celtic Connections

“Every year Celtic Connections arranges free education concert hall performances for schoolchildren featuring headline acts.

“They are a real affirmation of the value of free music tuition.

“It seems extraordinary to me that after years of numerous verified studies that confirm the additional value of music in children’s lives – increased social cohesion, numeracy skills, language skills and improvement of integration with other children – that we would even consider losing the facilities and budgets for free music tuition.”

Dr Kenneth Taylor, headteacher of St Mary’s Music School

Music has unique powers to communicate, bring happiness and wellbeing, to empower, individuals and groups, to improve organisational skills and depth of thought, it rewards a lifelong appreciation and inspires the human spirit.

There is an extensive body of literature available which highlights the transferable skills the study of a musical instrument can bring: social skills, fine motor skills, patience, persistence, dedication, the study of the abstract language of music which in itself develops a range of cognitive functions.

For these reasons we believe the Scottish Government should plan to systematically develop opportunities for music-making to flourish throughout our society.

Scotland should have a world leading framework for music education – the benefits of investing in future generations would be exciting and hugely positive. Equally, the continued failure to address the matter of funding for music education in Scotland, would have profoundly damaging and negative consequences.

A consistency of provision across the country is something that needs to be achieved. It is simply unacceptable for children to be excluded from the study of music on grounds of cost due to a ‘postcode lottery’.

It never has been sensible, reasonable or pragmatic to entrust the music education of Scotland’s young people to 32 local authorities who have had other funding allocations to consider and who, quite understandably, have developed different approaches and policies towards providing music teaching over the past few decades.

We would contend that it is more affordable and generally easier for a Scottish child to engage in sport than in music, but we would argue that developing young people’s skills in music is every bit as important in a well-rounded education in order to promote development and wellbeing. A country that is not actively developing music and the arts is neglecting the very fabric of its culture.

Sally Beamish, composer

“There are many fabulous musicians working in Scotland who simply wouldn’t be there, were it not for free instrumental lessons in the 60s and 70s.

“But learning an instrument is not usually about becoming a professional musician. It develops social skills, self-motivation and discipline.

“There are no short cuts; and the sense of satisfaction for a child who has mastered an instrument to a level where they can play with others in orchestras and bands is very powerful.

“Reading music is closely linked to maths skills, and opens up a world of potential - for instance joining amateur choirs and bands. It’s about creativity, confidence and participation. Instrumental tuition should not be an optional luxury for those who can afford it. It should be available to all.”

Jeffrey Sharkey, principal of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Over time, Scotland has been an amazingly musical country. It’s in the blood to be involved in all types of music in all manner of places from grand concert halls to bars and living rooms. But now we are in danger of a losing a generation who don’t have regular access to quality lessons

Beyond the fundamental life enrichment that music-making brings to both performer and audience, the skills acquired through learning the craft are as well-documented as they are varied, from enhanced listening skills and longer attention spans to greater capacity for collaboration and emotional intelligence- the very skills society desperately needs right now.

Furthermore, at the highest levels, the future quality of Scotland’s orchestras, ensembles and its international reputation as a musical nation is at risk if primary-age children cannot access instrumental tuition due to the barriers posed by fees or access to good teachers. Fast forward a decade and young people denied good musical foundations and routes to progression now may simply not be able to demonstrate a skill level sufficient to secure entry to Scotland’s national conservatoire, which should be a matter of shameful regret for us all.

While the recent Scottish Government’s Education and Skills Committee inquiry into Music Education in Schools has been a welcome and much-needed recognition of the scale of barriers to young people accessing consistent quality instrumental music education, it must also be a call to action for all parties and players invested in the future of our young people.

Scotland needs urgently to find a way of enabling sustainable access to and progression in music education. This doesn’t just benefit individuals. Scotland’s future cultural health and general well-being, as well as her economy, require our next generation to be equipped with all the creative skills and benefits that good arts education – particularly music – can offer.

Sean Shibe, Scottish classical guitarist, winner of the RPS Young Artist of the Year award in 2018

“Classical musicians are always talking about declining audiences, that they are disappearing or not enough, and education is a factor in that.

“It is so easy to get rid of this education, but it is so hard to come back from. If you don’t teach music, certainly classical music, to people at a young age then it is a really barrier to understanding it later. If this report from MSPs looks like a first step in the right direction, then it could really help.”

Andrew Dickie, committee member of the Scottish Association for Music Education

Music can have a powerful effect which features in everyone’s life and is a highly effective emotional, psychological and educational tool. General music learning is part of the curriculum structure in Scotland and leads to qualifications at the same levels as all other school subjects.

As part of that learning, young people have a great opportunity to enhance their educational experience and personal development through instrumental learning. We strongly support the provision of instrumental music tuition in Scottish schools, recognising that it is an essential part within the qualification structure.

Music tuition in schools across Scotland has seen many challenges over the last few years. In too many instances there is evidence of departing instructors not being replaced, or redeployed in other ways and those who are left are spread across a wider allocation. This ever tightening collar is now choking the system, starving it of the very oxygen required to maintain a once thriving sector which, at one time, offered a higher level of equity and opportunity for all our young people.

Even only to consider the well documented mental and physical health benefits of being involved in music, it is vital the service is properly maintained and supported. Moreover there are all the other well researched benefits.

Music instruction is not merely about learning how to play an instrument. It is a gateway to a large network of social and community interactions that can make the difference between one life path or another.

In rural communities it gives young people a skill that allows them to be involved in activities in and out of school. In cities it gives young people a positive outlet for social interaction, in many cases protecting them from the vulnerability of having ‘nothing to do.’

The financial constraints on councils are understood, but there is a need to adopt a long term vision. Scotland’s music education system is the envy of many countries, particularly those European countries where children can only find instruction outwith school. It is essential to work to preserve what we currently have, more importantly however, to invest in the music services, they offer so much more than what most see on first glance.

Scotland deserves better, at this worrying time - its culture needs careful hands as does the nurturing of its young people - participation in instrumental music can be the glue that holds this together for an equitable and stronger culturally endowed society.

Gary Innes, founding member of Mànran BBC Radio Scotland presenter

“I think it is imperative that every child is given the opportunity to learn music in schools for free. Music and the arts are a cornerstone of Scotland’s culture and for me it seems incredibly detrimental to rob the next generation of the chance to develop their artistic minds which could ultimately put into question the future of our creative industry.”