THE number of children learning a musical instrument in West Dunbartonshire schools has fallen as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to freedom of information statistics.

Data gathered by investigative journalism platform The Ferret revealed that there are no first start music pupils in the region this year compared to last year’s figure of 257.

Children are normally given the chance to learn an instrument for the first time in P4, but the pandemic saw that number plummet by 75 per cent across Scotland.

When schools returned after summer in 2020 all local authorities looked to minimise face-to-face contact, particularly for those learning woodwind and brass instruments, by shifting music lessons online.

Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton, said: “This significant drop in the number of pupils learning instruments for the first time is yet another devastating result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

“Music lessons are hugely important and add greatly to a child’s development and extra-curricular learning.”

Kirk Richardson, convener of the instrumental music teachers’ network (IMTN) at the EIS teaching union, said: “Primary schools have had great difficulty with online lessons.

“You can go online at secondary school and the child can leave their class to log in. At primary, they need supervision and that can’t be facilitated.”

A spokesperson from West Dunbartonshire Council said: “Pupils have been accessing remote lessons during the pandemic and we actively encourage our young people to learn through a mix of remote online learning and live lessons with music tutors as the guidance permits.

“Pupils are encouraged to record their performances which are shared with their peers and WD Instrumental music service staff on social media.”