West Lothian Council’s Instrumental Music Service provides free instrumental music lessons to primary and secondary school pupils and opportunities for these pupils to play in one of the many bands and ensembles that perform regularly at a range of venues and events locally, nationally and internationally.

The Service is delivered in schools by professional instrumental music teachers who provide a structured and progressive music curriculum which is encapsulated in the four capacities of Curriculum for Excellence – to enable each child or young person to be a successful learner, a confident individual, a responsible citizen and an effective contributor. The Instrumental Music Service is managed by a Principal Officer who is based within Education Services.

How will learning to play a musical instrument help my child?

As well as musical development, the many general benefits gained from learning to play a musical instrument include: enhanced listening and concentration, discipline, co-ordination, language development, memory and social skills. It helps your child to become part of a team and to respect other team members whilst increasing your child’s confidence and participation in the wider school and community.

How much will it cost?

Lessons are free, but you will be asked to buy music and some pieces of equipment, reeds, strings etc. For a more accurate estimate, please contact your child’s instrumental teacher.

How can my child become part of this?

We aim, within the available resources, to provide opportunities for pupils to learn to play a musical instrument in all primary and secondary schools. Instrumental music teachers provide instruction in a range of instruments including strings, brass, woodwind, guitar, bagpipes and percussion. Availability of specific instruments varies in different cluster areas. Demand usually exceeds availability so children are selected using established musical selection procedures. Your child’s instrumental music teacher will recommend the most appropriate instrument. Depending on resources, an instrument may be provided on loan without charge for an initial period of tuition, but it is also possible to purchase an instrument through your child’s school using (AIPS) – the Assisted Instrument Purchase Scheme. AIPS Enables you to buy a musical instrument without paying VAT.

When are the lessons and how do I check on progress?

Lessons are once a week during the school day but are, wherever possible, provided on a rotational basis so that no particular curriculum subject is affected. The length of the lesson can vary. Individual learning plans/targets are agreed with pupils, their progress is checked weekly and a written report is issued each year. Children are also encouraged to take part in nationally recognised music exams such as Music Medals to boost their sense of achievement.

Is there anything I can do to help?

Your role in supporting your child is an important one.

  • Encourage regular practice in a quiet place and listen to them playing from time to time.
  • Be positive, especially in the early stages.
  • Encourage your child to attend lessons regularly.
  • Be prepared to buy music and accessories.
  • Don’t hesitate to contact your child’s instrumental teacher if you need advice
  • Encourage your child to take up opportunities to perform solo and in groups

What happens as my child progresses?

All the way through instrumental music teaching, your child will be encouraged to assess themselves, first with Music Medals, then by sitting SQA and external examinations. Music exams passed at grades 6, 7 or 8 also score valuable points on University and College application forms (UCAS). There are bands and ensembles in most schools that usually play weekly after school hours. There are also Area Ensembles playing all kinds of music from popular to jazz to classical. These bring young musicians from different schools together to perform, often with professional musicians at prestigious venues around the world.

Where can I get more information?

The Instrumental Music Service team from Education Services will be happy to talk to you about any questions you may have

Juliet Hosie
Principal Officer of Instrumental Music
01506 281995

Steven Gray
Co-ordinator of Instrumental Music
01506 281996

Derek Rae
Music Development Officer
01506 281144

Hugh Foster
Instrumental Music Service Support Officer
01506 281145

Alternatively you can contact the instrumental music teacher at the James Young High School.