Turnaround on music tuition cuts

Town and County Hall
Town and County Hall

A heart-felt plea by Forfar Academy pupils resulted in a U-turn by Angus councillors at the local authority’s recent full meeting.

The delegation attended the meeting to try to change elected members’ minds about introducing a 36 per cent cut to instrumental music staff, as previously agreed by the children and learning committee.

Implementing the proposals would have saved the council £198,500 per year, but that was defeated by a 15-14 vote after Arbroath councillor David Fairweather tabled an amendment asking councillors not to accept the proposals and seek savings elsewhere.

A group of pupils handed over an 80-signature petition against the move and seniors Aiden Harvey and Geordie Cryle addressed the meeting directly, saying they felt the cuts could jeopardise pupils’ development and impact on the less well-off who would have to seek more private tuition to compensate.

Aiden said: “For those of us taking National 4/5, Higher or Advanced Higher music exams, having one-to-one tuition with a specialist in their instrument is often invaluable, and something that class teachers often do not have time to do while managing a full class of pupils and the various other parts of the qualification courses.

“We fear that if your cuts go ahead, we as pupils will not be able to perform as best we can do and, as a result, the authority as a whole could see a fall in the quality of the passes in exams.”

Geordie detailed the personal cost of private tuition and warned that targeting guitar and piano specifically could impact on young people’s chances of studying music at university and the cost of private

Forfar councillor Colin Brown, who supported Mr Fairweather’s amendment, congratulated the pupils on their presentation and pointed out that “the piano and the guitar are the two most popular instruments that youngsters want to play at home oo in company”.

He added: “If you were at Angus Council’s Young Musician of the Year, the final was between a pianist and a guitarist for a second year running and they were fantastic.”

He also cited the quality of an amateur show he saw recently in Kirriemuir which he said was down to “the grounding within our schools’ music departments”.