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Music lessons in huge demand

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
Front
Music lessons in huge demand

A MASSIVE expansion of instrumental music tuition is clearly hitting the right note with youngsters in Dumfries and Galloway.

The number of school pupils now receiving additional instrumental music lessons has rocketed by nearly 250 percent in the past five years.

Last year there were 1936 pupils involved in learning how to play everything from violins and piano to bagpipes and brass – compared to just 750 pupils in 2018/19.

These impressive figures were published in a report on the region’s instrumental music service and youth music initiative provision, which is due to be presented to councillors at today’s education committee.

Melanie Henry, education support officer, wrote in the report: “The vast majority of lessons are delivered in person through group lessons (four pupils per group). Online provision is proving successful for a small number of pupils with existing skill base.

“However, feedback suggests that it is more challenging for beginners and those who are sitting SQA examinations who can need more focused input.”

At all qualification levels, pupils are expected to learn playing two instruments. At National 3, 4 and 5 levels, voice, keyboard, percussion and guitar are delivered by classroom teachers.

But if pupils wish to select an instrument other than these, the pupil will be given access through the instrumental music service.

This has been especially valuable for pupils working towards Higher and Advanced Higher Music in supporting the performance part of their learning.

Annan Academy has the highest number of pupils taking advantage of the instrumental music tuition, with 143 students involved last year. Dumfries High School is next with 135 pupils.

Castle Douglas High/Dalry Secondary had 94 pupils receiving this additional instrumental tuition last year, Kirkcudbright Academy had 76, while Dalbeattie High had 34.

The expansion of music service provision has been made possible thanks to collaborative working with a range of community partners and organisations.

The council report states: “Examples of partnerships include working with Stranraer Brass to support their band and junior band. They have attended several competitions and Stranraer Brass Ensemble were the winners of Scottish Young Musician of the Year – Ensemble Section in 2022 and 2023.

“The music service work closely with The South West of Scotland Piping and Drumming Academy (SWSPDA) who provide piping and traditional drumming lessons in school, as well as group sessions at North West Community Campus monthly.

“They were successful in forming a Dumfries and Galloway Schools’ Pipe Band for entry in to the yearly Scottish Schools’ Pipe Band Championship, coming second in their class.

“Trustees of the Dumfries and Galloway Youth Orchestra have recently handed over the running of the orchestra to the music service.

“Dumfries and Galloway Regional Choir, Jazz Orchestra and Wind Band have also had a relaunch delivered by the music service for pupils from across the region.”

Annan and Eskdale, Front

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