Susan Dalgety: Free music tuition for all our children!

Culture secretary Fiona Hyslop
Culture secretary Fiona Hyslop
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I am tone deaf. I have a voice like an out-of-tune toad, and I have never mastered a musical instrument.

Even the effort of playing Au Claire de la Lune on the recorder was too much for my pudgy nine-year-old fingers.

But at least I got the chance to have a go.

Next week, the Education Executive of West Lothian Council will make a decision about what musical tuition it will keep in its schools, and whether it will charge parents.

READ MORE: Composer James MacMillan takes aim at ‘prejudiced’ cuts to music tuition

I don’t envy the councillors’ tough decision. Like all Scottish councils, they have to make big cuts to local services over the next few years to keep their finances on track. West Lothian alone has to reduce its spending by £65 million over the next five years.

Musical tuition is not a statutory right. Councils do not have a legal obligation to teach young Jack or Jill how to play the violin or bang the drums.

In fact, West Lothian is one of the few councils left in Scotland that – for the moment – does not charge for lessons.

READ MORE: Outcry at threat to limit music tuition to wind and brass

It would be music to all our ears if the Culture Secretary and West Lothian MSP Fiona Hyslop invested some of her significant budget in free music tuition for all Scottish schools.

Parents shouldn’t be forced to choose between having to buy new shoes for their child or letting her continue her drum lessons.