Defending Instrumental Music in 2015

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Earlier this term we became aware of spending cuts and proposals that struck at the heart of instrumental tuition and orchestral music in Perth and Kinross.

Working together with the Young Musicians Parents Association, and on your behalf, we expressed our concern at the proposed cuts in funding to the Instrumental Music Service (IMS); the prospect of substantial fee increases; possible cuts in staffing levels; possible loss of residential music camp; and the proposal to move IMS to a separate trust.

As a committee we believe that these proposals will have a detrimental impact on PYO, its current and future members and we asked that Perth and Kinross Council would seek to meet with us to discuss their plans.

We believe that:
• fee increases make music more elitist and less ac- cessible to those from low income families.
• a reduction in pro- vision will mean fewer children having the op- portunity to play musical instruments in PYO and other music groups. It will also lead to fewer children having the opportunity to play unusual or expensive instruments, such as oboe, bassoon, French horn and double bass. There is already a shortage of players for some instruments.
• a reduction in staff numbers would also put extra strain on the remain- ing staff who already give up a lot of time to help with PYO and other instrumental music groups.
• the loss of music camps would be a great sadness for many children. For some children music camp is the first time they have been away from family overnight and gives them their first experience of independence. It would also reduce standards as enormous progress is made at music camps when there is time to practise intensively over several days instead of just a couple of hours per week.
•if IMS were to be run by a separate trust, it would no longer be a priority for the council. We are also concerned that it could detrimentally affect children who want to learn a musical instrument as part of National 5 or Higher music. Currently Instrumental Music tutors are an integral part of the school system, helping to deliver the Curriculum for Excellence. This would be more difficult if they were no longer employed by Perth and Kinross council.
• the Instrumental Music Service is already oversubscribed with children who want to learn a musical
instrument. If provision is decreased many more children will be disappointed and will miss out on the great opportunity of learning to play an instrument and the experience of playing in an orchestra.

PKC Response
In response Perth and Kinross Council sought to reassure us that there were no plans to increase fees or reduce the level of instrumental tuition in the area.

Perth and Kinross Council leader, Councillor Ian Miller writes (11th Febru- ary 2015), “in its February 2014 budget the council agreed to review the way in which a number of its services are delivered and how these might be delivered or commissioned in the future…. the review is at an early stage and a number of options and models are being investigated”.
He added, “a report will be taken to the Council later this year to enable elected members to consider the initial findings and recommendations for further actions”.

Get your voice heard
It is only at this late stage that plans would be set out for consultation with the key stakeholders affected by the proposals.

Respond to the IMS music survey on http:// pkc.Music-Tuition.sgizmo. com/s3/

The survey is open to anyone who has an interest in music provision in schools. It can be made available in other formats and IMS staff can provide paper copies for those unable to access the online link.; let the school know about your children’s repeated success and growing confidence as a result of being involved with the orchestra; speak to your local councillor
and let them know too, about what a great service we have in Perth and Kin- ross; support your children at their performances.We must be seen to value the musical treasures that we have.

The current consulation period runs ends until April 24th don’t miss the opportunity. Write to Helen Smout, Service Manager, Culture, Cultural and Community Services, Perth and Kinross Council, Pullar House, Perth PH1 5DG, HSmout@pkc.gov.uk

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