Colin O'Riordan Trust

– in the Scottish Parliament at 5:00 pm on 24th January 2002.

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Photo of Murray Tosh Murray Tosh Conservative 5:00 pm, 24th January 2002

The final item of business is a members' business debate on motion S1M-2585, in the name of Angus MacKay, on the Colin O'Riordan Trust. The debate will be concluded without any question being put. I invite members who wish to speak to press their request-to-speak button as soon as possible.

Motion debated,

That the Parliament recognises the outstanding contribution made by the late Dr Colin O'Riordan to the provision of access to music for all children in Edinburgh, and particularly Sciennes Primary School, and throughout Scotland, in founding the City of Edinburgh Music School and in the many youth orchestra activities with which he was associated, and congratulates his family on the foundation of the Colin O'Riordan Trust, which aims to assist aspiring young musicians by promoting musical excellence and improving access to musical instruments for those children who might otherwise not have the opportunity to pursue music.

Photo of Angus MacKay Angus MacKay Labour 5:14 pm, 24th January 2002

I suppose that I should begin the debate by thanking the process through which we secure members' business debates. I do not understand the process, but I am glad to have secured my first such debate.

I also begin with a confession: I never had the privilege of meeting Dr Colin O'Riordan, which is unfortunate. I recall that, during my time at school, my brief interlude with music resulted in one day with a recorder—I did not really know one end of the instrument from the other. That was a sad state of affairs and it is the experience of too many school children in Scotland—certainly it was in my day.

Music brings so much to the lives of so many people by developing their individual skills and the richness and quality of their lives. It is clear that Dr Colin O'Riordan played an immense role throughout his life doing just that in his professional duties and beyond.

One reason why I sought to secure tonight's debate was simply because of the process that I went through upon hearing about the life and work of Dr O'Riordan. I had never heard of him, but when close colleagues in the Parliament—one of whom, Sarah Boyack, I hope will be called to speak later—mentioned him to me, I assumed that they had been taught by him. I assumed that they were talking of their personal experience and that it was a happy coincidence that they should have known him.

In the days following, however, and particularly with the establishment of the trust and the report in the newspapers, I was deluged with e-mails and letters from, and had conversations with, individuals who were taught by the late Dr O'Riordan or whose children benefited from the support he had given them. That growing experience made clear to me the sheer magnitude of the impact through music of this man's life and work upon the lives of others.

Sadly, Dr O'Riordan died last October. It is evident that he was one of Scotland's foremost musical educators. He benefited literally thousands of young people not only throughout Edinburgh and the Lothians, but in the whole of Scotland.

Perhaps at this point I should say that despite what the motion says about the work Dr O'Riordan did with Sciennes Primary School, he had an impact on a fantastic number of schools and orchestras and touched thousands of lives. I do not want the terms of the motion to suggest a narrowness of impact, because the work that Dr O'Riordan did had a genuinely profound impact on an enormous number of institutions and lives. I want to ensure that the record is put straight on that point.

It is clear that Dr O'Riordan believed strongly in the importance of developing the self-confidence, social skills and talents of young people from all backgrounds. I do not think that any member of the Parliament or any person in the chamber tonight will dissent from that view.

Dr O'Riordan's work proceeded over a period of about 30 years, during which time it seems he touched the lives of many people. That is why I wanted the opportunity to record in the Parliament and the Official Report of this evening's debate a testament to his work in Scotland and a recognition of the value of the Colin O'Riordan Trust, which his family established, and the work it hopes to do. It seeks to support musical excellence in Scotland, particularly by trying to support young musicians—for example, those who might find themselves in financial difficulty trying to acquire access to instruments. Its purpose is also to establish access to master-class tuition and development for musicians who have a particular skill that they would like to develop.

The trust applies its means and intentions to a wide age bracket. On that score, it is appropriate to consider January's fundraising event in the name of the trust at the Usher Hall. My understanding is that the original intention was to hold the event in the Queen's Hall, but that it had to be moved to the Usher Hall because of the sheer volume of applications for tickets. That in itself is testimony to the popularity of Dr O'Riordan and the sincere feelings of gratitude that many feel for his work.

I have been told that, on the night of the concert, so many people turned up that some had to be turned away at the door. I do not know whether that is true but, given the warmth of emotion that people have expressed, it would not surprise me if it were. I think that some full-time orchestras would be heavily tasked to try to fill the Usher Hall on a January night.

Many of Dr O'Riordan's former pupils asked to participate in the concert, but had to be denied the opportunity as more than enough individuals were willing to support the event. I understand that it raised about £17,000 for the trust. It is worth paying tribute to those who put so much effort into organising the event.

I want to say a few words about the City of Edinburgh Music School, which Dr Colin O'Riordan assisted in setting up; he played an important role as a member of the working party that developed the school 21 years ago. It is a unique specialist music school that caters for talented youngsters aged four to 19. The music school is funded by the new Scottish Executive excellence fund and does not charge any fees.

To put the quality of the City of Edinburgh Music School into perspective, I point out that Sir Simon Rattle CBE is its patron. I understand that students from Edinburgh, the rest of Scotland and as far afield as Russia, Mexico, Korea and Japan audition for places on any instrument, playing any style of music they wish. That is the quality of development work that Dr O'Riordan was involved in.

I do not pretend to have known Dr O'Riordan. I will not try to describe him as an individual or to set out his qualities—I am sure that many of the members who approached me before the debate will do that in their speeches. I will finish simply by saying that it is clear that Colin O'Riordan was an ordinary Scot but also an extraordinary Scot—one who gave much more than a professional salary and terms and conditions require of any individual. If we have more Scots like Dr Colin O'Riordan, we will be a much richer culture and a much better country.

Photo of Murray Tosh Murray Tosh Conservative

There are seven members who wish to speak, so I advise members to limit their speeches to four or five minutes.

Photo of Donald Gorrie Donald Gorrie Liberal Democrat 5:21 pm, 24th January 2002

It is excellent that we are having a debate on this subject—it is the first debate relating to a particular individual that I can remember.

I had a close connection with Colin O'Riordan in three ways. First, when I was a councillor in Lothian and Edinburgh, Colin O'Riordan ran and helped to develop the area's music services. Secondly, I am chairman of the Edinburgh Youth Orchestra, of which Colin O'Riordan was the main musical adviser and mainstay. Thirdly, my wife used to play string quartets with Colin several times a month.

Colin O'Riordan was an interesting man because he was highly qualified and educated—he was a violinist of great quality and held a doctorate in music from St Petersburg. He had a great belief in bringing music to young people, both through individual tuition and through groups, bands, orchestras and so on. He did everything. In the case of the Edinburgh Youth Orchestra, he advised on the programme as well as helped to put out the desks and chairs. He put his heart and soul into the whole thing. When slightly more money was available, he made a great contribution to persuading Lothian Region, in particular, to build up orchestras, bands and musical groups. I think that seven of those groups played in the Usher Hall concert to which Angus MacKay referred. The hall was full and there was a great atmosphere.

Colin O'Riordan made a great personal contribution and it is right that we recognise that, but there is a wider issue. Colin O'Riordan typified the importance of musical education. That is something we must push hard. Some people—in education and outside it—think that musical education is a nice add on. That is not the case. Music should be at the heart of our education system and seen to be so.

I have a separate motion on which I am trying to secure a members' business debate on another occasion. It relates to the important issue of the future pay of music instructors. I will not trespass on that subject now, as I hope to secure a chance to debate it more fully at a later date. The overall question of the funding and promotion of music education is critical. In some council areas, people have to pay for tuition. In many areas, such tuition has been cut. One of the things that caused Colin O'Riordan stress in recent times was trying to manage an ever-diminishing budget.

We should ensure that the Executive puts its money and heart behind music tuition being at the heart of our education system—and we should ensure that councils do the same. It is not satisfactory that music is hanging on by its eyelashes and risks being pushed out altogether.

Many schools' main shop window to their parents and local communities are the concerts, shows, musicals and dramas they put on. Music teachers are at the heart of those events. They are important for schools and young people. There is no better way to develop team spirit than by playing in an orchestra. Someone who plays in a football team or a cricket team, for example, can still be egocentric and try to do it all themself, but someone who plays a flute cannot play the bassoon or fiddle that somebody else is playing, so they have to learn to fit in with the others.

Music instruction is of huge importance for people's intellectual and fingering development. I was the world's worst bassoonist, but I gained enormous pleasure from playing in various bands and orchestras. There is also a team-spirit aspect to playing in an orchestra, which is important. I hope that while we celebrate Colin O'Riordan and applaud and support the creation of the Colin O'Riordan Trust, the minister will give a clear indication that the Government really values music education.

Photo of Margo MacDonald Margo MacDonald Independent 5:26 pm, 24th January 2002

I congratulate Angus MacKay on securing the debate. Like him, I do not know how that happens but I am glad that it has happened because it allows us to do two things. First, as Donald Gorrie said more eloquently than I might, we are able to mark Colin O'Riordan's extraordinary contribution to music in the city. I met him twice in the course of my work as a journalist. It was his work that I knew. I did not know the man, but his work stands as testament to the man. It is absolutely proper that we should find time in the Parliament to record what he did for this city and for the music education of children outside the city—and not just their music education.

Secondly, the debate gives us the opportunity to put into context the contribution of music to the education of the whole person. It gives us the opportunity to make the case, again, for motivated and inspired specialist teachers of music, drama and physical education, because those three subjects link and they are all required. They must be taught by people who are as motivated as Colin O'Riordan was.

Yesterday, I was out in Wester Hailes. As Edinburgh members will know, the school there is in an area that is pockmarked by severe deprivation—which, unfortunately, is reflected in the results in quite a number of the academic subjects. They are not as good as we would want them to be, but the results in music soar way above the others. There is a life about the music in the school. It is the music that inspires children. It is the music that makes them feel a sense of self-confidence and self-worth. There is also an inspired teacher in the school, whom I will not embarrass by naming. I wish to pay tribute to the work that is done by her and other specialist music teachers in Edinburgh.

During question time this afternoon, Susan Deacon asked the Minister for Education and Young People for an assurance that we will continue to educate the whole person. To do that, we should not just concentrate on the basics and the three Rs, although they are important. We will never produce civilised citizens unless they are taught about music, art and drama. Unfortunately, as Donald Gorrie said, those subjects are looked on as frills.

I learned much from Peter Mooney, who was the conductor of the Glasgow Phoenix Choir and who I am very happy to record was also the man who took the choirs when I was at school. The choir was where I learned the self-confidence to get up in front of a crowd of people. The first time I entered the Usher Hall was to sing in a choir conducted by Peter Mooney. Experience convinces me that it is important that people learn to appreciate music and, from being part of the orchestra or the choir, experience being part of a team. Doing those things in school is part of education.

I make a plea: that the Executive and the minister realise that we will not be educating our children unless we give them the motivation that comes from the arts, particularly music and, in this case, the memory of Colin O'Riordan. The Executive should support the trust in any way possible.

Photo of Brian Fitzpatrick Brian Fitzpatrick Labour 5:30 pm, 24th January 2002

My friend Angus MacKay does well to secure the debate.

I did not know Dr O'Riordan, but from what has been said I wish I had known him. In supporting the motion, I want to say something about the role that access to music can have in forming citizens and widening opportunities, particularly for disadvantaged youngsters.

I have to declare an interest. I grew up in Priesthill on the south side of Glasgow. It is one of the most deprived parts of Glasgow; sufficiently deprived that we considered the bit of Pollok that was inhabited by the likes of Tommy Sheridan a bit posh. I attended what was then called Bellarmine Secondary and is now called St Paul's. I do not think that the change in name reflects a demotion of the sainted Cardinal Bellarmine; a man you would not have crossed—ask Galileo.

I had the great fortune to be at that school when the music department was under the guidance of Miss Winifred Deans—Winnie Deans—the creator of the Bellarmine summer school and youth orchestra. Like Dr O'Riordan, Winnie Deans was a singular individual and an extraordinary Scot. She shared his belief in the liberating effect of music and spent much of her time and energies instilling in youngsters a love and appreciation of music. She shared the belief that every youngster can benefit from the opportunity to play an instrument and to have an understanding of musical traditions and forms.

As a result of the considerable volume of research in the United States and Switzerland, we know that there are direct connections between exposure to music at an early age and intellectual development and educational achievement across the subject range. There seems to be something about music that stimulates other intellectual competences. That was played out in my school by the above average rate of admission to university that those who took part in music courses achieved.

A welcome curricular development in recent years—in Scotland and across the rest of the United Kingdom—has been the introduction of space in the timetable not just for musical performance, but for listening to and appraising music. Music is a uniquely educational tool. I cannot think of another discipline that provides the time and space for the analysis of a complex and abstract subject.

I benefited from the one-to-one attention that music tuition provides. It is perhaps the only time we replicate a parent-child relationship in the school environment. As it turned out, my musical skills were limited. That might have had something to do with comparing myself with fellow pupils such as Willie Conway, who went on to the European Youth Orchestra and even greater heights; with Gerry Docherty, who is now in the Royal Scottish National Orchestra; and with that whole generation of contemporary artists who graduated from schools on Glasgow's south side such as Bellarmine Secondary School and Holyrood Secondary School.

I am eternally grateful for the opportunity that I had. I tried the violin and then the trumpet. I was not patient enough to develop a lip, although that has not held me back since. I struggled, literally, with the E-flat bass, which at that time weighed more than me—I know that that is hard to believe. I ended up with the cello. Although I would never earn a living playing it, it was a transforming instrument in my life.

What heart, what soul could listen to Rachmaninov's "Vespers"—which I was introduced to by Winnie Deans at the age of 13—and not be touched by the transcendent and put to thinking about our relationships with each other, our interconnectedness and our shared experiences as human beings. I cannot think of a more useful opportunity for my children. I want that opportunity for the children in my constituency and for children across my country.

In preparation for the debate, I spoke to my friend, James MacMillan, who hails from Cumnock. The keys to his growth as a musician and his journey to his place as one of our foremost modern composers were the stimulus that was given by his working-class parents and his good fortune in meeting music teachers who captured and nurtured his musical interests and talents.

They were good men and women, like Colin O'Riordan and Winnie Deans, who opened those closed doors of opportunity and helped to ensure that those opportunities were offered to the many, and not just the few. God will bless them and will look kindly on them, but we should thank them. I am honoured to have joined Angus MacKay in the debate.

Photo of Brian Monteith Brian Monteith Conservative 5:35 pm, 24th January 2002

I congratulate Angus MacKay on securing the debate and am pleased to support the motion.

I, too, did not know Dr Colin O'Riordan personally, but I knew of him from educational circles, from people in the City of Edinburgh Council and from music teachers, all of whom spoke well of him. I support the motion for several reasons. First, I am from Edinburgh and, as an Edinburgh citizen, I pay tribute to Dr O'Riordan's extraordinary achievements, not least of which was the foundation of the City of Edinburgh Music School.

Secondly, as Conservative education spokesman, I pay tribute to Dr O'Riordan for all that he did for music tuition in Scotland. Thirdly, I attended Portobello High School, where the music department provided some of the most enjoyable and memorable experiences of my education. When I saw Angus MacKay's motion, I knew that the debate was important. We should remember not only the fine man of whom we have heard tonight, but the work that he did.

I remember my teachers—Mr Dempster, Miss Noble, Mr Pow and Mr Morrison—fondly. I remember particularly the time that I wore a cassock and sang at Old St Paul's church and the school operas and music competitions that were the highlights of everyone's year at Portobello High School. That was quite an achievement for a music department: after second year, not everyone chose music, yet throughout school, whether people played instruments, sang or painted scenery, the music competitions and the opera were the highlight. I am sure that Colin O'Riordan would look for such things in a school, which would bring people together and inspire them.

Since that time, I have been keen to advocate the important role of music, not only for its own sake but because it provides a rounded education. Much more can be done. The foundation of the Colin O'Riordan Trust will be not only a fitting tribute but an effective way of improving access to music tuition.

One of the trust's roles will be the provision of instruments, which is crucial. Both my sons attended a local primary school in Edinburgh and were interested in playing the violin. Like many in their class, they were put through an audition to find out whether they had some sort of ear for music. Both were found to have some ability, but what could be done was limited by the number of available violins. The teaching by the musical tutors was free, but once those who could take up the instrument were isolated, they still had to participate in a ballot. The provision of instruments, which will ensure that more people have access to musical tuition, is fundamental.

It is one of those strange coincidences of life that, after the debate, my first appointment will be to return to my old high school, Portobello, to attend a teachers evening on music tuition so that we can hear what the next stage will be for the sons and daughters who attend the school. I can think of no better way of honouring Dr O'Riordan's memory than pupils and teachers working with the trust to learn music and play in Edinburgh and throughout Scotland. We should ensure that his name is remembered.

Photo of Robin Harper Robin Harper Green 5:39 pm, 24th January 2002

I had the privilege of knowing Colin O'Riordan for 25 years—not well, but well enough. He was a man of great gifts, who had a great sense of humour. As Donald Gorrie said, he set out the seats for the orchestra as well as encouraging young people by conducting and teaching them.

I taught at Boroughmuir High School for a long time—nearly half my life. In addition to leading the sections of the orchestras, Colin taught many of the Boroughmuir pupils. The orchestras used to use the school annexe, and it was a delight to hear them practising and to know that Colin was there, encouraging them. I have not met a pupil who did not hold him in the highest esteem.

I was delighted to hear about the setting up of the Colin O'Riordan Trust. I went to the concert at the Usher Hall, but did not hear the last, grand finale, as I was busy in the corridor outside the hall, collecting money for the fund. I hope that the fund will make a significant addition to music opportunities for young people in Scotland.

Another good, long-lasting and much-needed testimonial to the enormous work that Colin did would be for the Executive to take a robust attitude to the teaching of music, art, outdoor education and all the subjects that have, over the years, been pushed to the periphery of Scottish education. Those subjects must be returned to the centre of Scottish education.

I support what those members who have spoken so far have said. It is wonderful to be here to hear their speeches. I wish that other members were here, so that they too could hear the debate. It was wonderful to hear what Donald Gorrie, Brian Fitzpatrick, Brian Monteith and Margo MacDonald said about the central place that the teaching of music should have in our primary and secondary schools and of the value that should be put on the work of music instructors. As Brian Fitzpatrick pointed out, there is nothing to replace the value of the one-to-one relationship with an instructor. What happens in music in Scotland is founded on the one-to-one relationship between music instructors and their pupils. Without that foundation, the big orchestras, small groups and the wonderful things that happen at the city music school would not happen.

I look forward to the fund swelling to the point where it makes a significant contribution. I congratulate Angus MacKay on securing the debate.

Photo of Murray Tosh Murray Tosh Conservative

I call Sarah Boyack. By saving her to last, I can offer her a couple of extra minutes, if she would like to use them.

Photo of Sarah Boyack Sarah Boyack Labour 5:42 pm, 24th January 2002

I am not sure that that was a wise move.

I congratulate Angus MacKay on securing the debate and giving members the chance to come together in the chamber, and I welcome the establishment of the trust in Colin O'Riordan's name. The speeches that we have heard tonight demonstrate why it is appropriate and important that the trust be established. It is appropriate that, in our new Parliament, we acknowledge the contribution that Colin O'Riordan made to music in Edinburgh and the marker that he was for others across Scotland.

As Angus pointed out, I have to declare an interest: I was a student of Colin O'Riordan's. To put that into perspective, I used to sit up at the back of the orchestra. I knew who he was, but he might not have known who I was—although he would have done if we had got the notes wrong. On occasions, that happened.

I was a member of ESSO—the Edinburgh Secondary Schools Orchestra—circa mid-to-late 1970s. It was exciting to be in a proper orchestra. I was in our school orchestra, which was a great personal experience, although there were times when you wished that the violins were in tune. It was exciting to be able to go to an orchestra that drew pupils from all the high schools across the city. It made sense of the endless hours of practice that were required if you were to be any good at your instrument.

One of the exciting things about being in an orchestra was being part of a team and also of a sub-team. I was in the brass section. We sat at the back and we were the slightly bolshie element of the orchestra.

Photo of Sarah Boyack Sarah Boyack Labour

Nothing has changed.

Those identities are important to young people. I agree with the comments that Margo MacDonald and Brian Fitzpatrick made about the personal development that being involved in music allows young people.

As well as talking about the importance of Colin O'Riordan's work, I also want to stress the importance of the work that was done at individual school level across Edinburgh. It was that that let us come together as an orchestra. As students, we did not have any appreciation of the effort that was needed to achieve that, or of the individual relationships between peripatetic music teachers, who had to cover the whole city, and the other people in the schools where they taught.

Such teachers have a different relationship with their schools from that of the average teacher. They certainly do not get lots of praise at the time from the school students that they teach. They would get that praise only some years later. School students, as everyone knows, are not the most flattering people and never appreciate how much extra effort it takes to run an orchestra. Kids take it for granted that teachers are happy to stay on after school and to take them across the city.

That is why I am pleased to be able to speak in tonight's debate, many years on. Although we were not personally appreciative at the time, I am sure that Colin was able to tell how much we were enjoying ourselves when we were playing. It was quite exciting for us to be able to come together as part of an orchestra and play Mussorgsky, whom most of us had never heard of until we were in the orchestra. It gave us a real sense of purpose and gave all of us the chance to develop a love of music and a personal confidence. There is a liberation in being able to understand how music fits together, to be part of an orchestra and to play one's part. That is something that is incredibly important. I acknowledge the important role that the Edinburgh Secondary Schools Orchestra played at the time. It built on the backbone of work done in individual schools across Edinburgh and made us proud to be able to come together.

At Christmas, I was pleased to be able to attend the Royal High School choir's performance of Christmas carols in the Parliament canteen. All the Edinburgh schools are still putting their orchestras and choirs together. As Brian Monteith said, that is still a core part of education and is important.

It is superb that Colin O'Riordan's family and friends have put together a trust. Not only does it let his name live on, it also allows some practical work to flow from that. It continues to enable there to be a stimulation of interest in and access to music by young people. That is superb, and that is mentioned in the first point of Angus MacKay's motion.

The trust also addresses the practicalities of allowing young people to have access to instruments. That sounds like the kind of thing that one would take for granted, but musical instruments are not cheap. The cost of a new bassoon these days, for example, is not cheap. It is not simply a case of buying a new instrument when a child starts to learn. They might start off with a battered trumpet or a pretty ropy clarinet, but there comes a point at which the child can play the instrument. To be able to play a good instrument is sometimes what lifts people up from being talented amateurs to being the kind of people Brian Fitzpatrick mentioned, who can make a life and career out of music.

I am glad to support the establishment of the trust. I hope that, in addition to the fund-raising concert, the fact that we are having a debate on it will raise the profile of the trust, give it a boost and let more people know about it. I congratulate Angus MacKay on securing the debate and thank him for allowing us to pay tribute to Colin O'Riordan and give our collective support to the establishment of the trust and the work that we hope it will do for young people across the city.

Photo of Elaine Murray Elaine Murray Labour 5:49 pm, 24th January 2002

I congratulate Angus MacKay on securing the debate on the life and work of Dr O'Riordan, who contributed greatly in the service of young people and music. I echo whole-heartedly members' comments on the loss of so dedicated an educator and someone who obviously loved music so much. He was clearly greatly devoted to giving opportunities to young people to experience and participate in the magical world of music. The trust that his family and friends have set up is a fitting memorial and tribute to the man and his work.

Unlike Sarah Boyack and Robin Harper, I did not know Colin O'Riordan personally, but undoubtedly I saw him perform, as I used to go to Edinburgh Youth Orchestra concerts in the 1960s. I was sufficiently inspired to become a member of the EYO in the early 1970s. Unfortunately, Mr O'Riordan had left the orchestra by then, but at least I had seen him perform.

Performing in youth orchestras in my mid and late teens was a wonderful experience, although I was a violinist of limited ability. Like Sarah Boyack, I was often seated at the back of the orchestra; I often seemed to be put near the timpani, which was possibly done to drown out the noise that I made. To rehearse intensively and perform with talented young people and professionals was a terrific opportunity. As Sarah Boyack said, the EYO gave an opportunity to play real music at a much higher standard than would have been possible in a school orchestra.

Music provides useful lessons for later life. Donald Gorrie said that a person cannot be an egotist and play in an orchestra. We learned many things. I remember the violin instructor talking about a difficult piece. He said, "If you cannot keep up with it, just smile, keep your bow going and catch up at the end." I am sure that that advice stood me in good stead in later life.

I was impressed and moved by the enthusiasm and passion of the professional conductors and musicians who worked with young people. They seemed to have a real joy in sharing their talents and experience. I know from what has been said about Dr O'Riordan that he brought that passion and talent to his work with young people. It may not always be apparent that such passion and talent are appreciated. As a not very good musician, I always felt that it was a great honour to work with such people and experience their love of music.

I have been asked to indicate the Executive's commitment to music and the arts. I cannot disagree with Donald Gorrie, Margo MacDonald or Robin Harper that music is a vital part of every child's education and that all young people ought to have the opportunity to experience music. That music does not always have to be western classical music. I came to music through western classical music, which I enjoy, but other forms of music—such as traditional Scottish music and contemporary music—can be equally important in young people's development. All such forms are valuable in helping young people to develop their skills.

An effective music department makes a positive contribution to the overall ethos of a school. Margo MacDonald referred to the importance of culture in educating the whole person, but said that some people regard it as a frill. I do not regard culture as a frill. Culture and arts education are essential and are as important and useful as any other part of the education system.

Practical music making has been proved to be a particularly strong stimulus to motivating pupils and boosting their creativity. Brian Fitzpatrick spoke about how musical education often results in greater achievement in other subjects. Music is valuable in itself and for the many skills that it helps to develop in young people.

Nowadays, most—if not all—pupils in primary school and the first two years of secondary school experience music and music making in timetabled music classes. A range of instruments and singing are involved. However, as Brian Monteith and Sarah Boyack said, there can be problems with the cost and provision of instruments. On Friday, I presented a £5,000 cheque from the Scottish Arts Council to a local group of clarsach—Scots harp—players. I got the opportunity to play one for the first time, which was thrilling. I was amazed that that money can buy perhaps two and a quarter harps. Musical instruments are extremely expensive, which is a problem for authorities.

Reference was made to councils' charging policies. Authorities decide whether to charge for music tuition, but I strongly opposed charging in my time in local government. Music education should be free, as other subjects are, and I hope that authorities can provide that.

The five-to-14 expressive arts curriculum contains advice on the music and arts provision that should be available in classrooms. More broadly, school concerts and Christmas concerts involve communities in schools. That is important, as such concerts bring people from the local community into the school to appreciate and value the contribution that teachers and pupils are making.

The issue does not just centre on what happens in schools; we must also recognise the contribution of the voluntary sector, which has been extremely important to the musical tradition in Scotland. Although Colin O'Riordan did much work as a professional, he also did a hell of a lot above and beyond that as a volunteer and as someone who believed in and gave to the subject.

Members will be aware that the Executive is currently examining the details of a pilot programme for cultural co-ordinators in schools, which I hope will help teachers to maximise the potential contribution of cultural activities such as music to young people's education. Such activities are vital for developing self-confidence and skill. I hope that the details of the pilot programme will be announced in the very near future.

The need to develop excellence among young musicians was mentioned. One of the interesting aspects of the sports and culture debate is the recognition that even people like me who might not be very good at something can get enjoyment simply by taking part in cultural or sporting activity. At the same time, we also need the inspiration that excellence—the importance of which Donald Gorrie mentioned—can give us, which is one of the reasons why the Executive has allocated funding for the excellence fund. Indeed, one of the projects that will receive funding is the City of Edinburgh Music School at Broughton High School, which Angus MacKay mentioned and which Dr O'Riordan was instrumental in establishing.

Members will also be aware of the Donald Dewar scholarships. One of the ways in which the Executive wanted to reflect Donald Dewar's contribution to Scottish life and his love of arts and music was to establish a scholarship for fostering excellence in the arts and to offer youngsters from less-privileged backgrounds the opportunity to develop their talents. Twenty students will initially benefit from the scholarships; four will be funded with each of the four national arts companies for the performing arts and four will be funded in the visual arts with the Scottish Arts Council. We are currently discussing how the scholarships will operate.

I join members in lamenting the great loss of Dr O'Riordan to music education in Edinburgh and Scotland and in celebrating the contribution that people like him make to our country's cultural life and the development of our children. I congratulate Dr O'Riordan's family and friends on their vision in establishing the trust. I wish them well and hope that the trust and other initiatives will carry forward his passion for music and education in the years to come.

Meeting closed at 17:58.