Leader: Music tuition for kids can’t become lottery

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There is a statue outside Craigmillar Library which tells an inspiring story.

It depicts a woman handing a violin bow to her young son who is eager to take it and start playing music.

The woman is Dr Helen Crummy who became celebrated as one of the founders of the internationally recognised Craigmillar Festival. The statue captures a particular moment in her life.

In the 1960s, Dr Crummy was refused school violin lessons for her son, but simply wouldn’t take no for an answer. Angry at the lack of opportunity for her son, she worked with other mothers at Peffermill Primary School to change the school’s policy and then establish the festival to take the arts to a wider local audience.

Thanks in large part to Dr Crummy we have a proud tradition of extending the opportunity to learn music to children across the Capital, irrespective of their background.

Every parent will agree that the Three Rs are the most important part of their children’s education, but that the chance to learn a musical instrument should not be an expendable extra.

All the research shows that playing an instrument helps a child progress in many ways, apart from the sheer joy that it can bring throughout their life.

Seeing the number of children taking classes falling to below the target set by the city is obviously a concern. It is too early to tell whether or not it is a serious one.

The pressure on school budgets has seen some specialists spreading their work across more schools than before and there is an obvious risk that provision will become a lottery depending on which school your child attends.

The trend must be monitored and action taken if it continues.

Fifty years after parents had to campaign to ensure their children got the chances that most of us now take for granted, we must be vigilant that we don’t slip back.