Please Let our Young Musicians Practice!

Freya, March 2020, before the lockdown.

Our daughter is 16 and left home to do her last two years of high school at Douglas Academy. She made this sacrifice so that she could follow her dreams of being a professional musician. Douglas Academy has one of the best music departments in the country and it was a real challenge getting in.

Now that she’s there, she finds herself in the position of not being able to practice. This is because of rules laid down the local authority that dictate that brass, wind and choral musicians are not permitted to practice. I don’t know the actual laws and regulations so I can’t quote them. What I do know is that pupils in residence in other council areas in Scotland don’t have this pointless restriction, eg. Aberdeen and Edinburgh.

One of the parents has started a petition to the Scottish Government to have this restriction reversed.

The school and residence have both set up practice and performance areas that are completely compliant with social distancing restrictions. Naturally both these institutions are duty-bound to follow local restrictions, even when they make no sense.

Here’s what the young people say in the petition:

We have given up a lot in order to pursue our dreams of becoming professional musicians, spending every week away from our own homes and families. Please help us persuade Education Scotland, the Scottish Government and the councils which run our school and residence to recognise our unique situation and let us do our music practice in the same way that other pupils are allowed to. If not, all the years of hard work and commitment we have put into music will be wasted.

Lots of kids don’t want to do their music practice. But we really do. Please help us!

Douglas Academy Pupils


Freya’s Class – Where are the wind instruments?

Here is a direct link to the petition, followed by an embedded Facebook post of mine that you can use to sign directly from there. It won’t cost you anything but a minute or two of your time and it might just made a difference!

Petition page on

Call to #Hive Community

Hive is an awesome decentralised blogging platform and I just know that if I ask the #Hivearmy to come together and help out with a Hive Five and a signature, they will! So, how about it Hiveans?

Petition Link

Fraser Speirs on Mac Power Users

I just listened to Episode 93 of Mac Power Users with Fraser Spiers and it was one of the most interesting podcast episodes I have ever listened to.

Fraser is a teacher at a school in Greenock, Scotland. I had heard of him before, but I’d never heard him interviewed.

He started a scheme where every child in his school got an iPad – lucky kids, eh? He talks in the podcast about the philosophy behind this idea and the benefits that he has seen since starting the project.

It’s not so much the technical implementation of the scheme that was so interesting to me, but rather the philosophy behind it. I’m a 40-something dad of two under 10s and am quite disenchanted with the school system that my kids are in. So much so in fact that we’ve taken our 5-year-old out of school completely and are now homeschooling him. That got me thinking about educational activities I could do with him. He’s already very comfortable on the iPad and desktop computer. But that’s another post!

Fraser talked about how he things of the future where his pupils are concerned. The ones starting now will not be entering the working world until around 2025 and, strangely, Fraser doesn’t think that Microsoft Word skills will be much in demand then!

He talks about the different philosophy behind the way kids type; grown-ups are concerned about accuracy, a legacy from the days of typewriters and paper, whereas kids type first and proofread later.

He also talks about how today’s 40-somethings should have been the first digital generation, but the system was so far behind that it just couldn’t happen.

The one thing that stood out for me was the notion that parents will not stand for the current system as it stands. Hearing him say that got me thinking about joining the local school board and putting my voice forward. The school system on my little island seems rather too stuck in the past for my liking. But, having read a couple of books on homeschooling, I’ve learned about the brick walls that are the education system and stupidly-named ‘curriculum for excellence’, PR speak if ever I heard it!

Fraser’s website

Fraser’s weblog

Future Shock article mentioned by D. Sparks