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Keep music alive in Borders

We are writing to express deep concern over the proposed cuts in non-curriculum-based music teaching in the Borders. Despite the huge contribution for Standard grade music, Higher music, modules and Sixth Year Studies in the subject, instrumental tutors are still considered non-curriculum based.

People who have made the decision should be present at the practical examinations for the Scottish Examination Board which are held in every secondary school in March so that they can see the contribution made by every instructor and bear witness to the high standard of instrumental teaching in Border schools.

In addition to curriculum-based work, instructors make a huge contribution to secondary schools through the work they do with bands, orchestras and ensembles, all of which are of such high profile in school life, bringing considerable pleasure, sense of achievement and challenge to pupils.

Without weekly tuition these groups will not exist. Every member of the ensembles is dependent on a weekly lesson to learn to play their instrument and to receive help with the learning of the music for the ensemble, band or orchestra. The actual rehearsal of the group brings all the parts together.

Private tuition is expensive and demands the purchase of an instrument. Border children, regardless of their parents' income are entitled to the opportunity to learn to play an instrument. Current contributions allow for this. If instrumental teaching is discontinued in schools, most teachers will move to similar posts elsewhere or to cities where it is easier to make a living as a private teacher. Then there will be little or no opportunity for Border children to learn to play an instrument even privately.

We know that some very hard decisions have to be made because of the actions of the Scottish Office. However, the decisions will be taken by Scottish Borders Council. The convener of the council speaks of amputation. With amputation there is no reversal. Our plea is - do not amputate our much valued instrumental service. Keep music in schools and in the community alive.

JANE RIMMER (and 14 others) Spion Kop Selkirk

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