Music Teaching in Scotland’s Schools – Is New Ruling More Hot Air or a Wake-Up Call?

It is pleasing to see that the Scottish Government’s Education Committee has ruled that music tuition in our schools should be provided free of charge to pupils, writes the Editor.

Pleasing, but unless the administration puts money where it matters it will just be another blast of well meaning hot air.

It is a fact that pupils learning a musical instrument, and that includes pipers and drummers, do better at their other subjects. Numerous studies worldwide have confirmed this.

Yet music is still seen by accountants and their political masters as the go to place when budget cuts are required.

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The Holyrood committee recommended children should not have to pay fees to learn a musical instrument ‘in principle’, but admitted it could not force local authorities to change their policies.

One Scottish council has seen nearly 70 per cent of pupils receiving music tuition dropping out following the introduction of charges.

Hard-pressed parents simply cannot afford recent increases. Less well off families are being hardest hit.

Clackmannanshire council revealed last June a doubling the cost of lessons to £524 a year – or £17.50 per half-hour class. 

If schools are letting pupils down then it points up the positive teaching work being done by our pipe bands and also that of the Scottish Schools Pipes & Drums Trust, the South West Scotland Academy and Argyllshire Piping Trust to name three hardworking bodies. I hear there are good things happening in East Ayrshire too. All power to them all.

Another big boost to pipe band education will come with the opening of the RSPBA college in the newly-refurbished premises in Washington Street – hopefully later this year.

The new Principals of Piping and Drumming will be aware of the need to provide as much affordable tuition as possible.

Piping Press would like to hear from parents who have children whose piping or drumming lessons at school have been affected by recent cuts and increases in fees in Scotland’s schools.

But also from those who have a word of praise for the lessons their kids receive from the more enlightened local authorities. It won’t all be bad news. Email us at

If there is sufficient response we will compile a league table of local authorities who do most for the national music.

West Lothian Schools Pipe Band

At the moment those who run teaching programmes and bands – North Lanarkshire and West Lothian spring to mind – would be in the top two places.

But what is happening in Ayrshire, Highland, Edinburgh, the Borders, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Fife, the Western and Northern Isles?

It is only by making as much noise as possible about discrepancies, about the uneven distribution of music teaching, the post code lottery that our children face, that we will be able to do something about it.

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1 thought on “Music Teaching in Scotland’s Schools – Is New Ruling More Hot Air or a Wake-Up Call?

  1. In my experience, it is the councils that are letting the pupils down, not the schools. My son’s high school in West Fife is keen to start its own pipe band, but there are no funds available. There are 3 pupils that I know of that are studying piping for Nat 5 exams and are not receiving any tuition at the school because they don’t have the resources and cannot acquire them. I even suggested to the Council that my son’s pipe band could be ‘adopted’ or attached to a school in the region. The Council wasn’t interested. They declined to help us find a new PM and DM too.

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