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13 February 2019, 15:55
A Scottish council wanted to axe musical instruments in schools, so a flash mob protested outside until the plans were scrapped.
Midlothian Council has scrapped its controversial plans to cut music tuition in schools, following a storm of protests.
The local authority had announced at the end of January that it would become the first in Scotland to eliminate music teaching posts in its schools – save those preparing students for Higher or National Five exams.
The tuition announcement sparked opposition from teaching unions, students and influential musicians such as Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti, who feared similar plans could be replicated elsewhere.
Yesterday morning at 9am, a petition signed by 12,000 people objecting to the cuts was delivered to Midlothian Council.
As a crowd of school kids play their instruments, word on the street is that Midlothian Council has *just* backed down and music lessons will NOT be cut. Bravo, @WeAreTheMU! 👏 #ChangeTheTunepic.twitter.com/xIuLulyxqy— Shelly Asquith (@ShellyAsquith) February 12, 2019
Alongside the petition, a large musical flash mob of students, parents and music teachers protested outside the council’s chambers in Dalkeith. The protest was spearheaded by Save Midlothian Music Tuition.
Students turned up with flutes, clarinets, guitars and drums, while parents and teachers held up signs that read: ‘A school without music is a school without soul’ and ‘Let every child learn music’.
Among the demonstrators was MSP Christine Grahame, who rejected the cuts at First Minister’s Questions last Thursday: “If you want to pay, you’ll have to pay privately. [This is] music for the few not the many.”
If you’re feeling like protest makes no difference ... this morning Midlothian Council axed plans to axe music and expressive arts from my local schools ... in response to overwhelming beautiful noisy protest! So speak, sing!!— Karine Polwart (@IAMKP) February 12, 2019
As a result of peoples’ disapproval, councillors voted to reject their initial plans to axe music tuition in schools.
Originally intended as a cost-saving measure, the cuts were proposed by Midlothian Council to bridge a budget gap of more than £11.5 million.
The money they would have saved by cutting music tuition will instead be saved in “a series of other savings measures”, along with a council tax rise of 4.79 per cent.