We must not close the door on students

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I find the comments of Vic Lennard (Your Views, Education+, 20 November) at the very least ill-advised and at the very most conceited. What Mr Lennard fails to understand is that imposing tuition fees will lead to students who do go to university competing increasingly in the workplace to supplement their income while studying. If Mr Lennard believes tuition fees mean a relaxation of state and parental responsibility, then I urge him to consider the broader picture and the economic consequences of increased competition for lower-paid jobs.

I speak as a mature student who "had the chance to enter the university system at the right time", and I find that the very same people who took advantage of state provisions for education while they were still relatively good are those who are now supporting this unjust policy of shutting the door on the younger generation. Does Mr Lennard know (in real terms) how much a state grant has decreased since the Seventies? And has he any idea how difficult it is for graduates to find a position that adequately rewards them for their efforts?

I find it extremely disheartening to hear supposedly educated people expressing such views.

Tim Sellars

Waterloo, Liverpool

No chance is `too late'

Many of the mature students who study now may not have had the opportunity to go to university, hence their wish to achieve success later. To say these people "had their chance and did not take it" is thoughtless. Is the older student wishing to achieve success "attempting to turn the clock back" or just determinedly grasping the opportunity that may only recently have become available? The affluent can afford to pay their way; those in less fortunate circumstances often cannot.

Mr Lennard is wrong in believing it is just hard luck they missed out, and that they should accept this. No one should be denied access to what is still a fine education system, and to the opportunity to enhance their potential.

Marjorie Dawson

London E17

Music to my ears

I read with great interest the article by Diana Hinds (`Dear Santa, which instrument is for me?', Education+, 20 November) on musical instrument choice for children. I was surprised that no mention was made of the guitar. My son, Brynmor, now aged nine, has been learning classical guitar since shortly before his seventh birthday, following a year of the "kinder music" pre-instrument classes mentioned in the article. He loves his guitar, and never has to be pushed to practice.

As a first instrument for a child, the guitar helps in developing a high level of co-ordination, and advanced sight-reading skills. In contrast to the violin, pleasant and tuneful sounds can be achieved at an early stage, which encourages the child (believe me, a child is well aware how bad the violin can sound).

In addition, there is plenty of "real" music by composers such as Giuliani, Aguado and Sor, as well as pieces adapted from the lute and other instruments, traditional folk tunes etc, which children can tackle early on.

The guitar is relatively cheap and portable, and also has some "street cred" (important especially with boys).

Lastly, the high level of co-ordination required to play, with the use of all fingers on both hands, will stand the child in good stead if he or she decides to switch to (or add) another instrument at a later stage.

Because it is not an instrument of the traditional orchestra, many parents may be unaware of the vast classical repertoire for the guitar, much of which is accessible to the young musician, and imagine the child will simply be strumming chords (valuable though this is in developing a musical "ear").

In fact, to hear an eight-year-old playing an Aguado waltz, or a Mozart minuet, is an absolute joy.

Kate Jones

Llanwrtyd Wells, Powys

Please send your letters to Wendy Berliner, Editor, Education+, `The Independent', 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5DL. Include a daytime telephone number. Fax letters to Education + on 0171 293 2451; e-mail:educ@ independent.co.uk

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