LIKE Brian McGeachan, I well remember Jimmy Reid’s love of jazz, and his laments for the “lost Mozarts”, unrecognised and undeveloped by the restricted education imposed on most working-class children (“Let’s help musical talent to flourish post-Covid”, The Herald, July 10).

However, unlike Brian I was able to benefit, not only from parental encouragement (even when delivered in the classic Glaswegian form – “no bad…”), but from an inspirational music teacher, the late Bob Reid, at Knightswood School in the 1960s. His approach to the art of teaching created generations for whom music became the centre of their lives, as practitioners – amateur and professional – or as appreciative listeners.

Many of us referred to him as our mentor, rather than our teacher, as he seldom instructed: he showed you how to be a musician through his personal example of creativity, insight and commitment to hard work. In our innocence, we thought that it was normal for a music teacher to orchestrate the school shows, adjusting musical lines to meet the skills available – not only the usual Gilbert and Sullivan, but Carousel, Oklahoma and even West Side Story, guiding school age performers through its notorious rhythmic intricacies.

Highers and O-Grades were the by-products of these activities rather than tick-box objectives – we would be pressed into service as music copyists, learning the importance of layout, legibility and accuracy as well as acquiring the dark secrets of instrumental transposition. The fact that one then had to sit in the orchestra beside colleagues coping with the results was itself a telling lesson. Many of us who went on into higher education in music were astonished to find that these skills were not always the norm in Scottish schools.

As I prepare to retire as a Professor of Music from the University of Glasgow at the end of this month, I reflect that these 50 years as player, composer, instrumental instructor and teacher would never have been possible for a boy from the “schemes” but for the luck of being in the right place at the right time. However the gulf between Brian’s school experiences and mine still exist – there is inspirational work going on in many schools, but all too often there are places where youngsters are being asked to tick the right boxes, but not being stretched to their full potential. This has been the evidence of my own eyes and ears visiting dozens of schools over the years as a practitioner and more recently in observing the enormous disparity between prospective students applying for GU music degree courses – not in their abilities or potential, but in the quality of their musical experiences and opportunities.

This is not an attack on the teaching profession: the situation reflects the constant relegation of music and the arts to the fringes of education. Whenever financial crises, or politically-motivated “re-organisations” of local government occur, they seem to allow the parochial philistines to descend, often dismantling instrumental services, or access routes to the visual arts and drama built up over decades.

We already see that some in the establishment have a vision of a post-Covid education focusing on “literacy and numeracy” – the “Three R’s” in trendier jargon. But - and wishing well to Brian as he channels Sonny Boy Williamson or our own Fraser Speirs – here’s my essential "Three Rs": Rhyme, Reason…and Rhythm.

Prof Bill Sweeney, Glasgow G12.