Time up for music club

The Saturday Morning Music Club which has been running at the Anderson High School for 20 years held its final session yesterday.

The event was marked with a concert and coffee morning.

Conductor Alan Gifford cited the departure of fellow teacher Feri Bartai and a reduction in the number of pupils as the main reasons for the club’s demise.

He said there were “nane comin through” since individual tuition for pupils ended with brass, piano, fiddle and woodwind teachers leaving the profession and not being replaced.

This means that approximately 250 pupils are missing out on tuition, and the effect of the council cuts to musical education of a few years ago are having an effect.

Whereas in the past the club catered for 50 pupils it has reduced to the 30s and the numbers have been dropping every year since the educational cuts were implemented.

Mr Gifford said it is a shame as the club offered, as well as the music, social interaction among peers and increased confidence and experience in their playing.

He added that, “unlike sport music stays with you all your life”.

Club members have included Schools Music Festival Young Musicians of the Year and Young Fiddlers of the Year.

One of the beneficiaries of the club is Sophie Wishart who as well as benefiting from individual tuition, started playing fiddle before moving on to cello.

She said attending the club had meant playing in her first string group and she then knew what to expect when she played with an orchestra. There was the discipline of practising and playing but there were also funs.

She thought everyone should have the opportunity to take up an instrument within the educational system, and it was “a shame” that the club after all this time was coming to an end. She is hoping to go to Edinburgh University to study music.

Another student Sarah Keay, who also plays cello, has found the club invaluable and has been a member since primary seven.
She was “gutted it’s stopping”, saying it has been an “influence on tonnes of people”.

Sarah thought one-to-one tuition was invaluable as everyone learned at a different rate. She did consider music as a career but has opted to go in for accountancy at Napier University. Music will always be a great interest.

Finally Hannah Adamson, a Young Fiddler of the Year in 2011 and Senior Young Musician of the year in 2013, said the experience of playing together at the Saturday club was very useful when she went on to play in the National Youth Orchestra.

There is still free individual tuition for traditional fiddle, but not for violin. Hannah thought it is more productive to get the “best from both worlds”, the one complementing the other.

She is going on to study bio-medical science but her choice of university was swayed by the fact it had an orchestra she could play in.


Add Your Comment
  • John Tulloch

    • May 17th, 2015 17:20

    As long as the SIC’s education funding from government continues to be £10 Mpa short of what’s needed, this is the type of thing that we may expect to read about.

    Under an arrangement with the SNP Scottish government with COSLA, funding is allocated on a ‘per pupil’ basis, as opposed to a ‘needs’ basis. This obviously favours the big city councils who have much lower costs of providing services.

    Westminster has officially recognised the grossly higher costs faced by island authorities and it’s high time Holyrood caught up with them, instead of sending MSPs up here to fight for the parents, pretending its all the SIC’s fault.

    All the SIC can do is use their oil reserves and then the SNP Scottish government will have them where they want them.

    How many of these kids parents voted for the SNP on May, 7th?

    • Robin Stevenson

      • May 17th, 2015 19:36

      John, Please take a long hard look at the above picture, and imagine yourself playing “Another tune”?

      Do you seriously think that SIC council has [in some spooky way] been singled out for education cuts?
      EVERY council in Scotland is facing cuts with a lot more to come, as you’ll soon find out with Ozzys upcoming
      Tory budget, £12 Billion savings for this year alone, which in turn, will be a reduction of Scotland’s Block grant, thus a reduction to COSLA, thus a reduction to every council in Scotland.

      This is what YOU voted for, get on with it.

      I applaud the parents of these pupils who voted SNP, at least they had a hope of change.

      • Gordon Harmer

        • May 17th, 2015 21:25

        You forgot the frozen council tax which starves councils of much needed funds Robin.
        Frozen council tax which helps the middle and upper class home owner only while forcing councils to cut back on public services including education.

      • John Tulloch

        • May 17th, 2015 21:51

        Absolutely, Gordon. And, crucially, freezing council tax makes the councils more beholden to Holyrood for grant funding, which means they have to do what they’re told.

        That’s another reason why the SNP Scottish Government want to run down the SIC’s community wealth funds, once they’ve got the money, they’ll have the SIC on a ‘choke chain’.

      • Robin Stevenson

        • May 17th, 2015 21:53

        C’mon Gordon, get serious,…Hands up who’d like their council tax increased?…..from ALL walks of life, not just middle and upper class.

      • Gordon Harmer

        • May 18th, 2015 8:27

        Its not what we want Robin its what we need, councils have been starved of funding for 8 long years now and the only beneficiaries are the well off. This freeze has been a bribe to the better of to vote for the SNP, at an enormous cost to public services. I do not want to pay more but I do want my bins emptied and the roads salted in winter along with no school closures. So I would pay more and not just for the services I receive but also to make sure the people delivering those services are earning a decent wage and are not constantly in fear of their jobs.

      • Robert Duncan

        • May 18th, 2015 9:27

        I wouldn’t be opposed to a halt on the council tax freeze, but let’s not pretend that it is a progressive tax or that only the wealthy benefit from that move.

      • Robin Stevenson

        • May 18th, 2015 15:48

        I’m happy for you Gordon, that you’re in a position to pay more for your council tax if need be, however, we’re talking about the whole of Scotland, the low paid, the pensioners and those that aren’t in such a fortunate position as yourself. £1,200 pa may seem a drop in the ocean for you and others, but for some that’s the difference between feeding their families, or heating the house, or having to pay an extra £100 per month?…..Let me see…Bins emptied, salt on the roads….or starve?…Hmm!!!

      • Gordon Harmer

        • May 18th, 2015 20:27

        Here we go again, round and round on Robin’s magic roundabout of spin. Those who would starve if they have to pay higher council tax receive benefits to compensate and well you know it. I am not in a position to pay more and never said that, what I said is I would pay more to receive better services and to contribute to public service providers earning a reasonable wage and having job security so they don’t starve. Something you obviously do not care about as long as you can blame Westminster. The council tax freeze is a bribe which can be hidden from the gullible who would listen to the SNP rhetoric you are so good at spouting. Just to put something into perspective Robin, nobody in this country would starve because council tax goes up because of the benefit system but people would suffer disease from rats if bins never got emptied. Unsalted roads cause accidents which can take lives and can cost business millions in lost production when roads are not passable. A small hike in the council tax every year can be budgeted for and secures jobs for council workers who with no job would be more likely to starve than the people in your intricately spun fairy tale. Its time you woke up and smelled the coffee in the real world instead of the chicory substitute you are fed from Bute House.

  • Johan Adamson

    • May 18th, 2015 11:18

    Its a real shame that this music club is ending. I hope there can be a replacement and that music tuition will recover. We were are the very well attended BBC Small Pieces event for school bairns, hope they will do another. One of my bairns wanted to go back every week had it been on.

    • Johan Adamson

      • May 18th, 2015 12:41

      Sorry I meant we were at the …. Ten Pieces event

  • Ian Campbell

    • May 18th, 2015 12:57

    Johan .

    Good to see someone focus on the reality of the article and the people affected by the loss of the club rather than just get involved in yet another political slanging match.

    • Robert Duncan

      • May 18th, 2015 13:04

      That this is a bad thing to see goes without saying. Music tuition will not recover without discussion of the problem and identifying a suitable resolution.

    • John Tulloch

      • May 18th, 2015 13:59

      With respect, Ian, that is precisely what I have in mind, along with how to end the SIC’s problem of facing higher costs of providing services i.e. education, than those faced by Mainland authorities.

      The SIC receives funding allocated on a ‘per pupil’ basis which clearly favours big city councils and is NOTHING TO DO WITH “Westminster cuts”.

      Westminster recognises these higher costs of island services, Holyrood does not and as a result, COSLA is allowed to divvy out the spoils to the advantage of the ‘big boys’ who run that club.

  • Johan Adamson

    • May 19th, 2015 9:07

    So Robert Duncan we need a symposium on the future of music in Shetland involving Education, SADA, music teachers and tutors and groups such as the community orchestra and the Choral; the Folk Society etc. See if we can get a joined up approach and maybe even apply for some funding to run groups and events.

    Music tuition in schools is not working, we are supposed to get tuition in P5 but what really happens is you go in a queue at P5 and you might get a teacher in P6 and 7. Instead of waiting for tuition in school, people are seeking out private tuition or going without. This is OK but then all these tutors are out there without support and there might be less opportunities to get together with other musicians, depending on the tutor.

    • John Tulloch

      • May 19th, 2015 17:57

      Hear, hear, Johan!

      We need to get the education funding sorted out, first. That’s the root of all the schools issues. Once the money is on its way, then is the time to work out grand schemes.

      But maybe Robert D had something simpler in mind than what you describe?

      • Johan Adamson

        • May 20th, 2015 8:54

        John we dont have time to wait. It is time all these disparate groups spoke to one another about who does what, why and how we can encourage the bairns in terms of singing and instruments.

      • Robert Duncan

        • May 20th, 2015 9:27

        No John, that is much on the lines of what I would like to see too, and I agree that it is the funding that will be paramount.

      • John Tulloch

        • May 20th, 2015 9:47

        I obviously misinterpreted your comment, Johan, sorry about that.

        By all means get people talking however I took from the article that this music club folded because the music teachers for several important instruments departed and were’t replaced as a result of education cuts. From the article:

        “Conductor Alan Gifford cited the departure of fellow teacher Feri Bartai and a reduction in the number of pupils as the main reasons for the club’s demise.

        He said there were “nane comin through” since individual tuition for pupils ended with brass, piano, fiddle and woodwind teachers leaving the profession and not being replaced.”

        “…….250 pupils are missing out ………and council cuts…….. are having an effect.”

        “…….club ……..numbers have been dropping every year since the educational cuts were implemented.”

        Education funding is distributed to councils on a ‘per pupil’ basis – obviously, to the advantage of the big city councils who run COSLA.

        Shetland is suffering due to lack of recognition by the SNP Scottish Government/COSLA of the much higher costs of providing council services in remote island groups.

        Alistair Carmichael,has seen to it that Westminster, officially, recognises that.

        So the education funding gap needs to be addressed, urgently.

      • Johan Adamson

        • May 20th, 2015 12:20

        It was to do with funding. They changed the way music tuition was run. Lessons used to be free and they changed the music tutor’s contracts at schools and many left as it was now worth doing. Many just took the opportunity to retire and now work from home. Parents dont object to paying as there is now a lot of private tuition going on.

      • John Tulloch

        • May 20th, 2015 14:07

        It sounds then as if there aren’t enough kids coming through to keep the club going because a lot of parents are unable to afford private tuition fees?

        So now the club is lost for everybody. That’s a real shame.

      • Johan Adamson

        • May 21st, 2015 9:00

        There are certainly primary school bairns getting tuition. High Level Music and others are busy. But not sure what happened at the high school. Maybe cos the tuition is not through the school then they dont go to this music club or there are not enough orchestra type instruments since we lost specialist teachers, not sure, maybe it is all fiddle and piano rather than brass, other strings etc. It will take a few years for the primary bairns to get there. There did still seem to be quite a few talented musicians at the Schools Music Festival and it included singers this time which is a good thing. And there were certainly orchestral instruments at the primary bairns Ten Pieces event.

        Need to get together about this anyway. Maybe a junior wing to the Community Orchestra to allow then experience of an orchestra? With a singing option? With funding? And they would need help as I am sure all the work is voluntary at the moment.

  • Gordon Harmer

    • May 20th, 2015 14:47

    According to the word of Robin” EVERY council in Scotland is facing cuts with a lot more to come, as you’ll soon find out with Ozzys upcoming
    Tory budget, £12 Billion savings for this year alone, which in turn, will be a reduction of Scotland’s Block grant, thus a reduction to COSLA, thus a reduction to every council in Scotland”.

    Typical SNP lack of accountability and blame someone else tactics.

    Robin likes to shout about more powers for Scotland, yet is very tight lipped about a substantial new tool available to the Scottish government. Since April the SNP have had the right to borrow up to£2,2 billion to fund spending from the national loans fund, banks or by issuing bonds.

    Robin frequently rattles on about anti austerity drive which would mean more borrowing, but when given the chance to max out on their own credit card Robin and the SNP are bizarrely reluctant. Could this be something to do with the fact that debts will not be underwritten by Westminster, or is it something to do with an adverse credit rating damaging the nationalists financial credibility?

    If the nats put their money where their mouths are cuts like the above would not happen and poverty could be given a bit of a kicking.

    • John Tulloch

      • May 20th, 2015 19:01

      £2.2 billion? So £1 billion of that would counter the entire effect of Osborne’s £12 billion cut for the UK, I wonder what they’ll do with the rest?

      The SNP are very keen on Keynesian economics and infrastrucure improvements are a classical Keynesian device for stimulating economic growth so maybe they’ll spend the rest on fixed road links to improve travel from remoter parts of Scotland like the isles and the west coast to the centre?

      Yell, Unst and Whalsay could fairly do with having road tunnels.

    • Chris Johnston

      • May 20th, 2015 23:00

      This sad loss of music instruction is a symptom of harder times to come. The oil money is running out. Production peaked in 1995 (by memory) at about 4.5 million barrels/day, has fallen to 1.4 now, and is forecast to fall to 1.0 by 2020.
      Shetland’s public finances are very scattered due to all of the different agencies, quangos, etc. But there is only one source of oil money. It seems to me that one group should review all of the needs and prioritize how best to use the remaining oil money.

      • Johan Adamson

        • May 21st, 2015 9:17

        Im optimistic there will be an end to austerity, and in any case we can prioritise the remaining funds. Yesterday it was announced that the SICs investments had grown, due to markets and the non-plundering I guess. Cant we prioritise some of this money into Shetland’s very talented musicians and also prop up tourism at the same time because is it not very sad that Shetland is losing one of the things it is widely known for (like the knitting)?

      • John Tulloch

        • May 21st, 2015 14:07

        The oil reserves haven’t grown by that much, Johan – between 10-15 percent, actually. Welcome, but not game-changing and you won’t see it every year.

        The total increase includes loans taken out for future projects and invested with the reserves to make a profit on the interest, meanwhile.

        £46M of the total increase (£74M) will be used to pay future construction bills for e.g. the new high school, etc, so won’t be available to end SIC cuts.

      • Robert Duncan

        • May 21st, 2015 15:04

        We do still have an oil fund and if we can get things in order spending-wise, there’s no reason that cannot survive well into the future and long after the oil itself is gone. The indication this week – and I say this acknowledging that the headlines about record surpluses skew the reality somewhat – is that things are heading in the right direction on that front.

      • John Tulloch

        • May 21st, 2015 17:08

        Indeed, Robert, the council deserves credit for its financial management in recent years.

        The problem of systematic under-funding, due to the way in which government grant funding is allocated via COSLA, however, remains.

        In particular, education money is divvied out on a “per pupil” basis, as opposed to a “needs” basis which, obviously, favours the big city councils over low rural populations and this has resulted in Shetland education being under-funded by £10Mpa, even, after the cuts already seen. That is not “fair”.

        The reason it’s unfair is that it’s much more expensive to provide services in remote islands than on the Mainland.

        The council has three options:

        1. Close schools – politically, unrealistic.
        2. Cut other services – already cut to the bone.
        3. Use its ‘community wealth fund’ to pay for ‘revenue’ (day-to-day) spending.

        Use of the oil reserves is now the only realistic option and means that Shetland’s oil reserves are being systematically transferred to the SNP Scottish Government’s heartland via “stealth under-funding”.

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