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Caithness News Bulletins November 2004

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The tuition of traditional music in schools through the Youth Music Initiative should be available in the mainstream curriculum to every child in Scotland, says Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson.

The initiative is a scheme set up by the Scottish Executive with the aim by 2006 that every primary child in Scotland should have access to at least one year's free music tuition. The SNP MSP's comments follow his visit to Dunbeath Primary School in Caithness On Friday Morning (5/11/04), where piper and whistle player Ross Ainslie and guitarist/bassist Barry Reid led the second of four music sessions for the children there.

Mr Gibson said...."It was amazing to watch the music session develop. We saw the professionalism of the tutors being lapped up by the pupils. First they had to remember the difference between jigs, reels and Strathspeys, then they were encouraged to try out musical instruments for themselves in group work before playing penny whistle and percussion."

"Seeing the initiative in action really strengthens my resolve to see this format rolled out to every primary school in Scotland. These visits are for a four week period. This has to be increased so that pupils get longer periods to play and gain more understanding and enjoyment of our musical traditions."

He continued..."Giving children a better understanding of their communities helps add to their self-esteem because traditional arts should be encouraged wherever possible."

He went on to praise the efforts of Feis Rois who provide the tutors for this phase of the Caithness and Inverness primary schools project on behalf of Highland Council.

"The work done by Feis Rois, and in particular Rita Hunter, has offered new scope for many more youngsters to experience live music and enjoy a part of the thriving cultural scene of the Highlands and beyond. Feis Rois's own success has led to this initiative being rolled out by their tutors in the North. "

He ended...."This scheme may be a taster for some children and the first steps for discovering the next generation of talented musicians. It certainly gives children a chance to do something new and promotes diversity of experiences in their young lives."