Let the music play on
The strategy warns that the availability of music tuition will be pivotal if it is to meet its aims of encouraging more youngsters to make music and developing their talents to the full.
The TESS reported on September 15 that music and home economics were now the two biggest shortage subjects in secondary teaching. Nevertheless, the first ever long-term national strategy for music education in Scotland was launched amid optimism that the Scottish Executive is likely to meet its commitment of providing all primary-age children with a year's free music tuition by P6 through its Youth Music Initiative (YMI), launched in 2003.
An announcement on whether that target has been reached is expected by the end of the year, but Culture Minister Patricia Ferguson indicated the signs were positive.
The youth music strategy will, however, expand beyond primary education into early years and secondary and hopes to bring all providers together to blur the distinctions between the various learning environments. It is the culmination of extensive consultation by the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama on behalf of the YMI, which is administered by the Scottish Arts Council and was set up by the Scottish Executive in 2003.
David MacDonald, the SAC's youth music manager, said he hoped the strategy would expand the YMI's work inside and outside schools, but warned: "Our biggest hurdle is ensuring that there is enough quality tuition available for young people and that young people themselves can take a hand in organising the opportunities available to them."
Funding for qualified teachers and tutors in a broader range of music options is likely to come from the pound;37.5 million budget the executive has allocated to the YMI up to 2008. Databases will be created of the facilities available in each area and there will be more support for under-represented genres.
A regional and local "battle of the bands" is just one idea suggested to maintain youngsters' autonomy while encouraging them to get involved in music outside school.