This morning I visited the fife and drum class in Glengormley High School in my own constituency of North Belfast. The tutor is Mark Anderson, who is a peripatetic tutor with the Ulster-Scots Agency, and there is a keen interest in the fife and drum tuition.
Nelson McCausland with the school's head of music William Hill and pupils from Years 9 and 11 participating in the fife and drum tuition, which is being delivered by Mark Anderson on behalf of the Ulster-Scots Agency.
There is also a fife and drum class in the Boys Model Secondary School and Mark Anderson is delivering tuition week after week in schools across the province. This shows the potential to introduce this form of traditional music into more schools, both primary and secondary.
Nelson McCausland with pupils Holly Lee and Ryan McKay at Glengormey High School
This is good for the students, who learn musical skills and are then able to perform at community and cultural events. It is also good for the school and for the cultural tradition of the fife and Lambeg drum. It is important that such musical skills are passed on to a new generation of young people.
I was pleased to meet both the principal and the head of music in Glengormley and to hear them speak enthusiastically about the fife and drum tuition. They commented on the benefit of the class as regards the personal development of the young people and that is something that I have heard from teachers in other schools that are participating in the scheme.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child affirms the right of children in school to learn about and enjoy the culture of their community and these schools are implementing that right.
It is most encouraging to visit schools such as Glengormley which are introducing aspects of cultural heritage from the cultural community to which the children belong. Some have introduced the fife and Lambeg drum, whilst others have introduced tuition in fiddle music, Scottish highland dance and Scottish country dance. Culture has always been at the heart of the Roman Catholic maintained sector and the Irish-medium sector and it is right for the children and indeed the right of the children in the controlled sector that they too can enjoy and celebrate their cultural traditions. Culture should be celebrated and affirmed in our schools and not left outside the school gate.