Instrumental music teaching is under serious threat due to austerity budgeting, increased use of charging and under-valuing of the service. Members play a vital role in defending these services, and so too do parents’ organisations, who have recently spoken out powerfully in support of music education. Here we share some recently captured parents’ perspectives.
Connect (formerly the Scottish Parent Teacher Council) submitted evidence to the Scottish Parliament Education and Skills Committee’s Music Tuition Inquiry which said, “Learning to play a musical instrument brings many benefits to a child…every child should have the opportunity discover this for themselves. Yet many families struggle financially to afford the lessons, whether or not they receive support. However, fees are not the only barrier.”
Their online survey drew a large response and comments such as:
“We are seeing a distinct move in music tuition for those who can afford it only which is very disappointing.”
“I am not considered poor enough to receive help with the payment of fees but as a single parent, I just can’t afford it.”
“Varies between schools for availability. Disappointing that children not getting opportunities my older kids got at a different primary.”
The National Parent Forum of Scotland (NPFS) also submitted evidence to that inquiry, which said “We appreciate the budgetary pressure local authorities are under, but do not believe that charging for music tuition is ever appropriate.”
The NPFS submission concentrates on the real-life impact of music charges. Parents said:
“I am sad and angry that my son will no longer have the opportunities and benefits.”
“She felt a little excluded as all other learners continued this year as their parents could afford it.”
“[My child] decided not even to take a letter to bring home to us because it was ‘a lot of money’. I only found out about the availability through a conversation with a friend.”
We know that many members as well as being IM or Classroom Teachers are also parents, and may wish to defend the service for their own children as well as those of others. In their capacity as parents, members can take various campaigning actions to defend music education.