The number of instructors has declined, but the percentage of pupils learning an instrument in authorities charging higher fees is only marginally less than in those with lower fees.
In 29 councils responding to a survey by John Hall, of the Scottish Council for Research in Education, the number of instructors went down from 826 in 1996 to 787 last year. There was a tendency for fewer instruments to be offered to primary pupils.
The number of authorities charging rose from 13 in 1996-97 to 18 in 1998-99, and there has been a general rise in the level of fees over the same period, with a median charge of pound;80 a year.
But Mr Hall concludes that pupil numbers have held steady and "a fairly healthy range of musical activity is taking place".