STATEMENT ON WEST LOTHIAN COUNCIL'S PROPOSED ENDING OF STRINGS AND PERCUSSION IN SCHOOLS
The Linlithgow Folk Festival Association is grateful to West Lothian Council for all that it does and has done to promote music in the county, and in being one of the few local authorities to provide free tuition for school pupils. Their support for orchestras, ensembles, bands and groups can be seen in regular successes in festivals and competitions, and in the many happy young performers.
We are however very concerned that West Lothian Council intends to stop all tuition for string and percussion instruments, and close down all the related orchestras and groups.
This includes the West Lothian Folk Group under the direction of Norrie Maciver, lead singer with Skipinnish, who are performing in Linlithgow in June, as part of the celebrations marking 20 years of the Linlithgow Folk Festival. It also includes Linlithgow and Bathgate school orchestras, the Linlithgow and Bathgate Junior Strings and the Sinfonia.
We understand the difficult financial pressures on the council, and that no service can be immune from the need to find savings. However, it is unacceptable to select one or two music disciplines and remove all provision for them while others remain unaffected. Sacrificing over 550 young people to keep tuition free for the remainder is wrong.
This will have a devastating impact on them, especially those who are already committed to SQA exams in Music in those instruments. For a great many of them, music is not a hobby. Music is their life.
Parents and carers are asking to be able to pay a fee to keep tuition going, as happens in most other local authorities in Scotland.
We call upon West Lothian Council to put a hold on the planned cut and consult with parents on a model for the Instrumental Music Service based on fairness, and on alternative sources of funding including charging families who can afford it. This would mean everyone can keep doing what they love.
In our 20th year, we ask a very important question - What would traditional music be without fiddles and percussion?