So play on

28th November 1997 at 00:00
It was dismay and anger that I read Peter Cope's article "Just pick up a fiddle and play" (TESS, October 24). Dismay that a distorted scenario was presented as being the norm and anger at the sound of yet another axe being ground.

According to the author only instruments which play the tune should be taught. Surely a little thought would lead to the realisation that every instrument can be played solo. To take an example, tuba players do not spend their lives playing band or orchestral parts. In a lifetime of teaching I have heard solos played by every standard orchestral instrument with the players coming from ensembles for their moment in the limelight.

The claim is made that classical music is the sole ingredient in the repertoire of school instrument pupils.

This is quite untrue. Teenagers would vote with their feet if presented with an unvarying repertoire.

To claim that Scottish pupils feel an immediate kinship with Scots traditional music is ingenuous. All styles of music are new to a first-time player and in most cases equally accepted. Teachers are keen to find new material as they become as bored as pupils with a restricted choice.

The most jaw-dropping statement is that "the goal implicit, or explicit is to produce a concert player". Every teacher knows instinctively when a pupil of high potential comes their way, but equally realises that the majority will not be of that calibre. The player with professional aspirations puts in the hours of practice voluntarily, while the majority do enough to keep the teacher off their backs.

To imply as Mr Cope does that moves towards concentration on Scottish ethnic music would raise participation levels above 10 per cent in school populations is also misleading. Sadly this figure occurs largely because of the availability of instruments and time allotted to instruction time in schools.

At a time when council spending cuts have placed instrumental teaching in schools in jeopardy, it is disappointing to read an article which contains so many errors, which the uninformed might be misguided enough to accept at face value.


Principal teacher of music

Auchmuty High School


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