Music lessons are vital if Scotland is to produce musicians as talented as Ian Bairnson – Steve Cardownie

It was concerning to learn that the number of school pupils taking instrumental music lessons has dropped by more than a quarter during the pandemic.

Opportunities for pupils to try out instruments have been 'severely limited' by the Covid pandemic  (Picture: Juan Barreto/AFP via Getty Images)
Opportunities for pupils to try out instruments have been 'severely limited' by the Covid pandemic (Picture: Juan Barreto/AFP via Getty Images)

In just 12 months, the number fell by 14,604 to 41,604 in the 2020/21 school year, according to a report from the local government Improvement Service.

The report states that recruitment of new pupils was “difficult or impossible” as instructors found it difficult to enter primary schools which were restricted due to the pandemic and the opportunities for pupils to try out instruments were “severely limited”. Let’s hope that it picks up again.

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Although I think that I can appreciate good music, my own musical prowess was limited to playing the kazoo. I can say, however, that I went to Leith Academy with someone who was to become a talented Scottish musician, Ian Bairnson.

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The '˜magic' career of Pilot's David Paton

He was a session musician when he joined up with Dave Paton and Billy Lyall in 1973 to form Pilot where he made a major contribution to their hit single, Magic.

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Although he also played the saxophone and keyboards, he is mostly known as a guitarist and was associated with The Alan Parsons Project, Kate Bush, Bucks Fizz, Junk and Keats and of course, Pilot, also playing the guitar solo on Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights.

As a session musician he has played on more than 100 albums, incorporating many different styles.

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Unfortunately, Ian has been diagnosed with a progressive neurological condition which affects his communication skills and as a result of which he no longer performs in public. Sad news indeed.

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