MEGASTAR pays a return visit to his old campus: you’ll have seen that movie. Lothian-born, son-of-a-fishmonger Lewis Capaldi did exactly that this week, coming back to the New College in Motherwell he’d graduated from in 2016.

But it raised more issues than the cliches of central belt lad made good. To wit: how much are we prepared to invest in artistic talent in Scotland, especially if it leans in a popular direction?

Capaldi completed the New College’s HND music course under the guidance of its founders, Yvonne Tipping and Scott Cowie. In his audience with students this week, Lewis assured them that “you’re in safe hands here”. And his primary piece of advice? “Put yourself out there, no matter what.”

The young Capaldi had already paid his dues, as an 11-year-old surreptitiously strumming round the pubs of Glasgow, before he attended the Motherwell campus (not to mention auditioning for TV talent shows). From an Instagram video of Capaldi’s visit, Cowie relates how he heard Lewis sing, and immediately invited him to take the course.

READ MORE: 'Republicans are not having our voices heard by the media,' Proclaimers say

I have a bit of inside info as to what Lewis might have learned there. Yvonne Tipping is a family friend of mine, and is an accomplished musician – and industry veteran – in her own right (I’ve sung with her many times).

With her colleagues she’s been building the course up, recently establishing two degree-level qualifications (a BA in Music Performance and a BA in Music Business and Sound Production), backed by the University of the West of Scotland.

The idea of a pop and rock music course might jar somewhat with the sweat-stained, spontaneous, romantic image of the art form. There’s a degree of truth in that.

It’s one of the beautiful things about becoming a pop musician. There need be no qualifying, institutional process between the music that fills your body and soul, and the music that has to come out of you.

I am, to my shame, still a formal music illiterate – I couldn’t tell a C sharp from a broken harp. But I have a head stuffed with great singers and songs, from which inspiration comes; and from that I’ve managed (with my brother’s partnership) to play and write for 35 years.

But in retrospect, would I like to have gone to a school of rock for a few years before I launched off in the mid-to-late 80s? Jings, yes. Three reasons mostly: singing technique, business skills, and collegiate relations with peers.

The trouble with learning to sing only by listening is that you mimic the outside achievements of the greats, while knowing nothing of the inside techniques that helped them get there. I rebelled against the light-operatic snobbery of the early singing teachers that were pushed my way.

I paid for that later, with concerts cancelled due to my forced and unsustainable singing (and probably some permanent damage too).

Ideally, you’d want a pop-oriented music performance degree to bridge the gap. Something that connects the raw joy in music that makes someone want to sing or strap on a guitar, with ways of producing that joy which will keep you touring and promoting (as Lewis says, “putting yourself out there no matter what”). It’s a lesson you keep learning, from Adele downwards (who has her own notorious struggles with vocal strain).

Secondly, the music-biz element. Anything that could have taught me about the basics of investment and exploitation in the music business, back in the day, would have been most welcome. I blundered like a trusting child all the way to a first bankruptcy in 2001 – and have wised up since, consciously reimagining myself as a “musician-entrepreneur”. That’s learning the painful way.

But I know that these music courses, including the New College, sit their students down properly. And they make the essentials of contracts, copyrights, accounting, company formation and hidden costs completely clear to them.

We often proclaim we want enterprising, self-starting young people in the new Scotland. Those who gain and exercise financial discipline, in order to support the music (and art) they love, may be the most valuable youth of all.

FINALLY, I look rather yearningly at the rows of students cheering Capaldi, as he emerges from behind the curtain at Motherwell. They look like they’ve had fun as a group, coming on a journey through their course (Yvonne uses the phrase “travelled together”).

Collegiality is not my abiding memory of blundering and wrestling my way through the early years of a music career. Paranoia, insecurity and petty rivalry is the mood I recall.

British pop historians often note that going to art school was the essential training ground for some of the greatest bands – where imagination and craft could fuse together musically as well as visually. But if you didn’t get that ticket, then (in my experience) you’re in an open battlefield, especially if there’s major label money sniffing around the scene.

Some of my peers might accuse me of being a wimp. There has to be an element of competitive egoism in rock’n’roll, they’d say. Going to college may not prepare you for the rough and tumble that’s out there.

These are the adherents of Hunter S Thompson’s description of the music business: “A cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.”

That need not be so. My brother and I played at a memorial service for the legendary music agent Paul Fitzgerald this week, key to the success of The X-Factor, One Direction and others. It was an event stuffed with aspirants, hustlers and chancers from a mostly working-class background – but all of them devoted to the flourishing of their artists.

It feels like an advance, to me, that a music course could help you take a wider and more holistic view of the music business. I know that I could have had a better attitude towards the A&R folk and money-types in my starting days.

If they’d wanted sure-fire successes in marketing and developing products, they wouldn’t have gone anywhere near the music business. In which, as David Lynch once said, “the point isn’t to go up in flames, or go down in flames, but to be in flames”.

Yet how can that burn be steady and energising, rather than short and all-consuming? I’ve been immersed in Lewis Capaldi’s work over the last few days, and he is an extraordinary talent – a signature imprint in his voice, a candid and skilful songwriter.

But do I worry that this seems to borne on a tide of personal excess and poor mental health (as well a disarming, though unnecessary self-deprecation)? I do.

READ MORE: Katie Gregson-MacLeod on overnight success that saw her sign to a major record label

Maybe I’m showing my age (or my parental tendencies). The one thing that current music generations seem to embrace is the synergy between their own failures and fragilities, and that of the artists’ they love.

And while social media is often condemned for worsening the wellbeing of its users, it can also be an empathy machine too. For all his recent diagnosis as having Tourette’s syndrome, Capaldi seems to be a master at using the medium to intensify his fans’ loyalty.

Could you – should you – even teach that at rock school? Nevertheless, in a week where the Scottish Government put a pause on millions of pounds of music education funding as a component of their emergency budget, I want to raise more than a few cheers for formal education in popular music.

The rogues on the stage that you love can benefit, and may last a lot longer in their rogueishness, from a bit of schooling.

Though not too much.