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New model for instrumental music to be considered

A revised model of instrumental music provision for West Lothian is set to be considered by the council's Education Executive.

04 April

Members of the committee will meet on 17 April to consider a paper drafted by council officers, which recommends free music tuition for Brass, Woodwind and Piping is maintained.

The professional recommendation of council officers is that maintaining free music tuition for Brass, Woodwind and Piping would provide opportunities to learn and play a musical instrument for the greatest number of young people within the available £0.5 million budget, and allow the continuation of the greatest number of bands and ensembles.

A West Lothian Council spokesperson said: "We are looking to introduce a revised, sustainable model of instrumental music provision in West Lothian, maintaining a substantial level of tuition for a significant number of young people. 

"We are one of very few local authorities in Scotland who still offer free instrumental music tuition, with the majority of councils now charging for lessons. We plan to spend around £0.5 million per year on instrumental music, which is not a statutory service therefore does not have to be provided by the council.
"We already only offer tuition in a limited range of disciplines, and focusing on fewer disciplines will allow us to maintain free tuition, promote access based on ability to play rather than ability to pay, and maintain the majority of bands.

"The council is facing estimated budget savings of £65million over the next five years, so it is essential we make savings across the council to allow us to balance our budget. The money we receive from the Scottish Government is significantly less than what we need to cover rising costs for our growing young and older populations in particular."

The precise configuration of the new model of instrumental music tuition would be an operational matter for officers to determine, and the implementation of the new model would be undertaken according to the council's Workforce Management Policy.  

Officers would seek to maximise the opportunity for pupils to continue their instruction in the remaining disciplines to be offered, and this would be a factor in the deployment of staff.


The Transforming Your Council consultation, launched on Monday 19 October 2017, included a proposal to integrate a reduced instrumental music provision into the mainstream curriculum.

A meeting of the Council Executive meeting of 6 February 2018 voted to instruct officers to develop an alternative proposal which would retain a substantial level of music tuition and support the maximum number of bands. 

A further meeting of West Lothian Council on 13 February 2018 then agreed to a budget of £0.5 million for a revised model of instrumental music provision maintaining a substantial level of tuition, a saving of £493,000.

The proposals were then discussed by the council' Education Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel (PDSP) on 13 March 2018, with the comments made part of the report to be discussed at the Education Executive on 17 April.

At a special meeting of West Lothian Council on Tuesday 3 April, a motion to consider charging for instrumental music lessons and maintain all instrument disciplines was not considered. The motion was ruled out under the council's Standing Orders, as the matter was already under consideration.

The paper being considered by the Education Executive on 17 April sets out the research carried out and discussions which have taken place previously, as well as details of alternatives sources of funding for instrumental music service, which includes charging for tuition, sponsorship and fund raising.

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