THIRTY years ago today, Frank Sinatra strode across a Glasgow stage, and performed a musical master class. His first Scottish concert in 37 years saw him transform Ibrox Stadium into a blue heaven.

It was all there: The rich vocal delivery, the immaculate phrasing, the bustle of a boxer dismissed as past his prime. And then there was the repertoire; exemplifying the best of the American popular song.

The audience seemed to lift him that sun-kissed July evening. He not only floated along on their goodwill, but soared beyond it, exuding an energy belying his 74 years. We were even treated to a rarity: A Sinatra encore.

As a teenage jazz fan, I knew I was listening to a musical original, much imitated but never equalled. I also knew he was not, in the purest sense, a jazz singer. But the mythology of The Voice had a timeless appeal, even for a school kid.

In a generational nod at young attendees, Sinatra joked: “For those too young to remember me, I’m the American Andy Stewart.”

But if there was a kernel of truth in the joke that went: What has 500 legs and 12 teeth? The front row of a Frank Sinatra concert, it sure ain’t true now. Today Sinatra’s legacy as the greatest interpreter of song influences young performers. This country has many inventive vocalists. most would be hard pressed not to include a Sinatra standard in their repertoire.

As recently as 2019 BC (Before Covid-19) I heard a magnificent young vocalist sing the long-neglected standard Can I Hear a Waltz? The band swung, but the singer was drawing on every Sinatraism in the book.

My musical tastes stretch from Gilbert and Sullivan, to their modern-day equivalent, Eminem. Yet only now, whule I've been in lockdown, have I had the time and opportunity to learn harmonica blues. The music department in my school was a dead loss, the teachers diabolical. How many are similarly failed by an education system that delivered no musical instruction?

My friend Jimmy Reid, the UCS work-in legend, said to me, “Have you ever thought how many great musicians were born into families of maybe seven or eight, living in a two-room and kitchen, in the thirties, and never saw a piano?” He used the example of his musical hero, Louis Armstrong. Sent to a reformatory as a child, he was given a cornet. Without incarceration would Satchmo have stood a chance of becoming a musician?

It isn’t just a class issue, it is also a cultural one. Too often enthusiasm is viewed with thinly-veiled suspicion. If, like me, you come from a background where you wouldn’t recognise a compliment in the unlikely event one ever came your way, encouragement means a great deal. “Ach, don’t praise yourself.” serves as a credo as well as a reprimand. A put-down that dampens aspirations.

Mentors? With luck families will provide one or two. If not, the teaching profession might step in and unlock latent talents. What if both are lacking?

Recently I conducted a vox pop of musician pals. Most had parents who paid for private tuition. If, in a post-Covid world, smaller class sizes become mandatory, might that allow more targeted teaching?

Wouldn’t it be a positive by-product of this tragic pandemic if some of us emerged from lockdown with a fresh passion and aptitude for musical instrumentation? Just maybe the flourishing of creativity will transform a place that was Sinatra’s kind of town 30 years ago. . .

Excuse me while I go learn the harmonica tabs for Fly Me To Dunoon.

Brian McGeachan is an author and playwright. His books include They Rose Again and The Cardinal. His plays include Twisted and The Johnny Thomson Story.