It’s my long held and passionate belief that teaching children to play an instrument is a passport to all kinds of personal development, and gives them more confidence both socially and educationally, writes Ruth Wishart.

Knitting creativity through both teaching and learning - in all subjects - is no more than good sense in terms of proven results.

However we are living through an era where provision of individual instrument tuition in schools is patchy despite schemes like the Youth Music Initiative.

There are plenty of talented children who don’t get to explore their skills, and plenty of those who do who give up later because of limited access.

And yet for all the lack of provision in Scotland, you sometimes meet people who put our own situation in quite another perspective.

Last weekend I was chairing an event at the Ullapool Book Festival featuring a Scottish conductor called Paul MacAlinden.

Paul responded to an advert in 2008 from a teenage Iraqi pianist looking for a conductor to create a National Youth Orchestra in her homeland.

And so began an incredible six-year journey where every year young musicians would send in video evidence of their skills in the hope of being recruited to a scratch orchestra which spent two or three summer weeks in a “boot camp” being moulded into an ensemble by Paul and a team of international tutors he amazingly persuaded to travel to Iraqi Kurdistan to teach with outside temperatures of 55 degrees.

Somehow they made it work, despite tensions between Arabs and Kurds, language barriers, cultural traditions which made it difficult for young women to lead sections or learn to play at all, and a constant battle for funds to keep the show on the road.

And, after lengthy battles over visas, Paul also managed to take them to festivals in Europe where they played alongside youth orchestras who had the advantage of spending years in conservatoires rather than rehearsing with battered instruments for two or three weeks.

They played in Germany, they played in France, and they even came to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe when the Scottish Government gave them funds taken from fines imposed on a company which had had illegal dealings with the Saddam Hussein regime.

The enterprise only foundered two years ago when an unholy combination of an intransigent and obstructive US immigration department, and the bombing of Iraq by so called Islamic State, made it impossible to undertake a long planned visit to America.

But some of these young Iraqis went home and set up their own small ensembles and string quartets, some found a berth in Europe, and all of them made friendships across cultural and geographical divides.

No such experience is ever wasted.

And Paul? Having lived and worked in Cologne for a number of years, he’s back in the Govan area of Glasgow setting up a chamber orchestra as part of a neighbourhood re-generation project.

For playing instruments also builds in another essential quality for modern life – personal resilience.