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Tommy Smith
Instrumental Tuition

Ten thousand thanks for all your tremendous support

As we hit 10,000 signatures that emphatically oppose the proposed Edinburgh City Council destructive cut of 75% to our Instrumental Tuition Service, we step significantly closer to eventually hearing from a senior Council officer and the evidence they may communicate at a public meeting to whether they will expunge their apathetic overture.

The Edinburgh City Council Petition Committee, which consists of 10 members: 3 Labour; 3 SNP; 2 Conservative; 1 Green; and 1 SLD, all congregate on Thursday 21 January 2016 and trustingly will discuss and debate our petition with philosophic wisdom.

The committee is:

Cllr Jeremy Balfour [Con] phone: 0131 529 4083
Cllr Chas Booth [Green] phone: 0131 529 3182
Cllr Denis Dixon [SNP] phone: 0131 529 4988
Cllr Marion Donaldson [Lab] phone: 0131 469 3841
Cllr Paul Edie [Lib] phone: 0131 529 3172
Cllr Nick Gardner [Lab] phone: 0131 529 3282
Cllr Karen Keil [Lab] phone: 0131 529 3261
Cllr David Key [SNP] phone: 0131 529 3260
Cllr Alex Lunn [SNP] phone: 0131 529 4956
Cllr Lindsay Paterson [Con] phone: 0131 529 4970

Scottish singer, songwriter, musician and actress, Shirley Manson has written this heartfelt letter to the council, which I encourage you to read.

“Dear City of Edinburgh Council

It has been brought to my attention that you are proposing a 75% cut to the budget that funds Edinburgh’s instrumental music tuition and all of the Edinburgh Schools Orchestras and ensembles.

It is difficult at this time in our culture, where everything is weighed, measured and valued in financial terms or by how popular it is, for music education to be considered important or necessary.

However, it is crucial as a society that we safeguard as many of the beautiful, wonderful, nebulous things that bring joy and happiness to people all across the globe, that are of cultural importance.

The difficulty being that the cultural importance and the impact of music is often impossible to evaluate in simple monetary terms.

Unless music is presented in the particular form that generates massive amounts of money for the corporate world and proves itself wildly popular to an international pre-teen audience, it becomes so easy to dismiss.

I understand you are in a tough position. Setting budgets to run a city cannot be easy.

But I beg you to rethink your position on this proposal.

We are living in dark times. The news is at best depressing, at it’s worst, terrifying.

Music is an art form that transcends terror. It is the exquisite and beautiful opposing force to everything that is cruel and frightening in this world.
Please do not rob the school children of Edinburgh of the opportunity to engage with music, learn from it, fall in love with it, master it.

As a former pupil of Flora Stevenson Primary School and Broughton High School in Edinburgh, I have personally benefited directly from the musical tuition that was offered up to students in Edinburgh as part of our educational curriculum.

As a result apparently of displaying an aptitude for music I was picked out by my teachers for both violin and clarinet tuition. I played in my school orchestras and sang with both choirs.

I have gone on to enjoy a career in music that has lasted over 30 years. I’ve played all over the world and been exposed to so many experiences that I am so fortunate and grateful to have had.

There is not a day goes by when I don’t think how lucky I am.

Everywhere I have travelled I have spoken of the immense good fortune of being born in Edinburgh where I received a musical education that I quickly came to realize was exemplary.

I hope that the pupils of Edinburgh schools with an aptitude for music continue to be as fortunate as I was.

That is what I hope for them and for the great city of Edinburgh.

Finally…..I hope that anyone in Edinburgh with a love of music will repost this story of these proposed cuts, protest in their own voice where possible and lend their name to the petition of protest on Change.Org

I also urge any Edinburgh based papers to report on this story.

Perhaps if we all push together, we can make a change to this proposal.
After all, in the words of the mighty Patti Smith,
Love all, hate no one.”

Here are some other quotes from individuals who signed the petition:

“Free music tuition is a lifeline of help to so many children from very mixed backgrounds. It enriches life and broadens horizons.”
Michael Holton, Haddington, United Kingdom


“I don’t want school instrument tuition to be the exclusive preserve of the affluent middle class in Scotland. As if it wasn’t a big enough deterrent already for poorer households that families have to pay for a child’s musical instrument, this move will make it even less likely that a child from a poorer household will have the opportunity to play an instrument.”
Rebecca Reid, Edinburgh, United Kingdom


“My daughter has benefited immensely from free music tuition, both at primary and secondary school. Our primary school’s parents association regularly buys more instruments to allow the wind and brass band to grow.

Private music tuition is unaffordable and a luxury for many families. If this extreme cut goes through, so many kids won’t get a chance to receive music lessons and schools will be left with a pile of instruments and no one to use them!

The music tuition service is so much more than just weekly lessons – there are numerous performance experiences throughout the year, the experience and challenge of dedicated practice and the rewards that brings, boost to self-confidence and positive impact on mental health… there will be children who may struggle with other aspects of school, but excel at their music tuition.

How many young musicians will we lose? How many young people who wish to become a professional musician, but their families cannot afford lessons or to spend hundreds of pounds on providing instruments at home?

Learning to play an instrument should NOT become an elitist pastime.”
Jeda Lewis, Edinburgh, United Kingdom…

Image by Colin Robertson

Categorized: TS thoughts