The EIS and Head of Instrumental Music Services in Scotland (HITS), will today host a major national conference for Instrumental Music Teachers in Edinburgh, at a time when issues pertaining to excellence and equity as they apply to music provision in schools have never been under more scrutiny.

"Celebrating Instrumental Teaching: Fine Tuning Excellence" is a national conference to celebrate the contribution made by instrumental music to schools and communities, and to explore issues of excellence and equity in Instrumental Music Teaching.

Held at the Sheraton Grand Hotel, Edinburgh, the conference will feature performances from Currie Community High School String Ensemble, the Edinburgh Schools Rock Ensemble, and contributions from, among others, Larry Flanagan, EIS General Secretary; Paul Harris, Educator and ABRSM Examiner; Tom Arthur MSP, Convener of the Cross-Party Group on Music; and Dr Rachel Drury, Lecturer in Learning and Teaching in the Performing Arts, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland; the Scottish Association of Music Education (SAME); and Kirk Richardson, Convener of the EIS IMT Network.

Commenting, EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said, "This conference provides a timely opportunity to reflect on how valuable music education is; the current inequities that exist in terms of access to Instrumental Music Teaching; and the need for urgent action to defend and protect Instrumental Music in our schools."

"In recent years, there has been an ever-widening postcode lottery of instrumental music provision across Scotland. A growing number of local authorities have made substantial cuts to their instrumental music service, and wide variations in charging policy have emerged. It is time for the Scottish Government to act to protect the tradition of instrumental music tuition in our schools either by providing ring-fenced funding to protect this service or introducing a statutory entitlement for young people."

"Learning how to play an instrument is invaluable to individual pupils including in terms of increased self-confidence, enjoyment of learning, expression, wellbeing and attainment. Addressing the current variability in children's access to the high quality teaching needed to learn how to play a musical instrument is an important element of the wider drive to enhance excellence and equity in schools."

Kenny Christie, Chair of HITS, said, "Heads of Instrumental Teaching Scotland are delighted to be working in partnership with the EIS to deliver this national conference designed specifically for Instrumental Music Instructors."

"Against the backdrop of the Scottish Parliament's inquiry into instrumental tuition we want the day to be a celebration of the excellent and inspiring practice that takes place across schools on a day to day basis. With almost a third of the entire workforce in attendance this will also be an excellent opportunity for colleagues to network with other professionals."


  • For data on IM provision across Scotland see the Improvement Service publication 'Results from the IMS Survey May-July 2017' (but note that this is out of date in some cases; new data is due for publication in Dec 2018).
  • Among local authorities that charge for tuition, the average fee for group lessons in 2017/18 (£212 per pupil, per year) increased by approximately 4.7% on 2016/17 fees. Fee data for 2018/19 will be published in Dec 2018. Clackmannanshire Council now charges £524 per year; W Lothian charges £354; E Lothian now charges £280 per pupil per year.
  • The Improvement Service reports that in 2016/17 approximately 61,615 pupils received lessons; at least 16,603 pupils also participated in additional activities run by these services (e.g. bands, ensembles, orchestras, concerts, residential courses) but notes that "the majority of Instrumental Music Services are limited by resource and teaching capacity, and are unable to provide lessons for all interested pupils."
  • The EIS is launching a new Charter for Instrumental Music.
  • The Scottish Parliament Education and Skills Committee is currently considering how family income can be a barrier to music tuition in schools. The EIS has submitted evidence to this Inquiry
  • The Scottish Parliament Public Petitions Committee is also considering access to music teaching. The EIS has submitted evidence in support of the petition