LETTER: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

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If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

Two years ago, at the age of six, my son William, was inspired to take up the violin by a visit to his school from an East Sussex Music teacher, Simon Smith.

Since then he has been attending small group lessons at school and Saturday morning classes at Lewes Music Centre.

We are not an especially musical family but since he began lessons my son has acquired a range of new skills including sight-reading tunes, playing tunes by ear and by heart, performing in concerts, composing his own melodies, and playing solo at family gatherings.

East Sussex Music has had a real impact on William’s growth as a learner and a fully rounded human being.

This would never have happened without the inventive and aspirational teaching he’s had from his music teachers together with the combined system of school and Saturday morning lessons and concerts that East Sussex Music has developed and fine-tuned over many decades.

It’s a mature and cohesive service that provides equal opportunities for all children as well as assistance for those who need it.

Employing teachers on a salaried basis, means, for example, that children in remote locations or from disadvantaged backgrounds are not excluded because market conditions make them ‘unprofitable’.

In addition, East Sussex Music plays a valuable social role in bringing together families of different backgrounds at events and concerts that celebrate the learning and performing of music together.

Having experienced at first hand all the benefits of the East Sussex Music model, we do not want to see it endangered or degraded in any way.

An annual DfE grant provides 27% of the ESM budget. Tuition fees from parents and schools account for the remaining 73%.

The £500 per annum that we pay for all William’s lessons is a not insignificant amount for us as a family but we stump up because we know that this high calibre service is worth every penny we spend on it.

East Sussex County Council, however, is preparing to wreck it by cutting teachers’ jobs, apparently because of a mere 1.7% overspend, and even though ESM has come up with practical suggestions for balancing the books.

As parents, we are delighted with how the current system educates and inspires our children.

As stakeholders, we back our music teachers’ wish to retain their posts as East Sussex employees.

As consumers, we believe the current service represents excellent value for money.

We urge the ESCC to engage seriously with ESM hub leaders on their ideas for restructuring the service in a way that will maintain its integrity.

Parents, students and ex-students alike are showing their loyalty towards this outstanding service (just read some of the personal stories on the Testimonials page the Save East Sussex Music website at sesm3.wordpress.com ).

And although we as a family are far from wealthy, we’d happily put our money where our mouth is by paying a bit extra towards lessons as part of a strategic alternative to save the service and avoid the proposed job cuts, if that’s what it takes… …but whatever it takes: Save East Sussex Music Service!

Jamie Crawford

Denton Drive, Denton