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Pupils suffer in music cuts

The announcement that Renfrewshire Council plans to cut its music instruction service from 17 to 10 instructors will seriously harm many children's prospects.

The existence of school bands, instrumental ensembles and choirs, far from being unusual in schools, is now commonplace. My own school has senior and junior bands, a stage band, instrumental groups and choirs. Whereas in the past, the music curriculum was dominated by singing, instrumental playing is now a core part of it and an essential requirement of Standard grade and Higher examinations.

The provision of tuition has transformed music in schools, and the subject is so popular that it is now one of the top five subjects chosen by pupils for certification. At an examiners' meeting two years ago, we were told that Scotland presents more pupils for certification in music than the whole of England. This may seem an incredible statistic, but it is due to decades of debilitating cuts to the music tuition budget in England.

Contrary to the impression that music tuition exists only for the "lucky few", in Scotland children from all backgrounds have been given the opportunity to learn an instrument, irrespective of how poor they are. In England, children from poor backgrounds have little opportunity to learn music, no matter how talented they may be.

Music tuition has enormous benefits for pupils, not just those aspiring to become performers. It can change a pupil's personality out of all recognition. Pupils develop an abundance of essential social skills playing in music groups, gain an enormous amount of confidence and, perhaps most important of all, learn a skill which they can use all their lives, no matter where they live.

As a result of council education budgets no longer being "ring-fenced", money intended for education is being diverted elsewhere. There are many examples of councils wasting money and advertising non-essential jobs. Why should those who are the least protected suffer - the children?

Duncan Mackay, Strathview Road, Bellshill.

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