VIOLIN virtuoso Nicola Benedetti has called on Nicola Sturgeon to cancel cuts to music lessons for kids.
Edinburgh Council are considering cutting up to 75% of the cash sent to schools to pay for musical instrument tuition.
The move has been slated by campaigners who claim it would spell disaster for talented young musicians unable to foot the bill of private lessons – forcing them to hang up their instruments for good.
Supporters of the campaign have even set up a petition – pleading with the council to backtrack on their plans – and have secured over 5,000 signatures so far.
But now superstar violinist Nicola Benedetti has called on Nicola Sturgeon to intervene and save music funding for schools in the capital.
28-year-old North Ayrshire-born Benedetti – who began learning to play at just four years old – tweeted at the first minister on Wednesday afternoon.
Her message read: “I would like to draw your attention to this Nicola Sturgeon. We are all praying for the correct outcome.”
Her tweet contained a link to the 5,600-strong petition calling on the council to cancel their plans, titled: “Say NO To The Proposed Budget Cut of Our Edinburgh Schools Music Tuition Service.”
It reads: “If this budget cut is put in place, the hundreds of talented and gifted young musicians, ranging from ages of 7 and 8, right up to 17 and 18 across Edinburgh who learn to play a variety of brass, percussion, woodwind and stringed instruments, and learn to sing through their schools could be forced to start paying for their weekly instrumental lessons”
“It could mean an end to the Edinburgh Schools orchestras, ensembles and choirs which music students all over Edinburgh passionately participate in.”
“Many people who are currently benefiting from the music service, but also many people who have had many positive experiences in the past due to the music service would definitely agree that their music tuition, and participation of the various orchestras, ensembles and choirs have made a significant change to their lives.”
“The mental health and neurological benefits that learning an instrument can have are further incentives to retaining a free music service.
“Fight against the loss of these amazing opportunities that the Edinburgh music service offers to the young, versatile musicians across Edinburgh who do definitely not want to lose the opportunity to learn and improve their musical skills.”
Sturgeon promptly responded to Benedetti’s tweet, saying: “This is a council decision but I agree regarding the importance of music to education.
“The Scottish Government budget today protects Youth Music Fund.”
A spokesman for the Scottish Government added: ““It is a matter for local authorities to decide how they spend their budget and we have maintained investment in the Youth Music Fund at £10 million, recognising its success and contribution to education attainment.”
Benedetti has hit out at a lack of musical education in schools before.
In a 2012 interview she said: “I’m fiercely furious about the provision of music in schools.”
“So many people up and down the country are trying to create a better foundation for musical education.
“But decisions have been made, especially in the light of funding cuts, that are, I think, catastrophic to our future as a nation.”
Edinburgh City Council is in the midst of a cutting spree in a bid to save £126m over the next four years.
In November they announced they would be scrapping a number of lollipop ladies, reducing recycling collections and cutting funding for community policing.