PARENTS in Scotland have had to foot the largest increase in charges for music tuition in Britain - more than 66 per cent over the past three years.
This takes the average cost of fees per term to just over Pounds 38. Welsh fees are the lowest at just Pounds 23 a term although they have also risen by 28 per cent over the same period. However, Wales has the lowest proportion of children in subsidised classes - 13 per cent, compared with 27 per cent for Scotland and 14 per cent in England.
The overall number of pupils taking instrument or singing lessons has risen in Wales and Scotland, both nations having a better record than England. However, music providers in both countries want ministers to do more to improve the service and remain unconvinced of recent pronouncements.
Scottish local authorities want to see cash for music ring-fenced, along lines proposed for England. All 19 of those that responded provide tuition centrally.
Aberdeen City Council told the survey: "Both David Blunkett and his Scottish equivalent Brian Wilson make noises about supporting instrumental music. However, in cutting the grants to LEAs it forces these authorities to look at ways of saving money and music instruction, as a non-statutory provision, is number one target."
In Wales, local authorities were concerned about the age and state of the instrument stock. The Schools Music Service for Gwynedd, Anglesey and Denbighshire, said: "We are currently in the process of making a Lottery application for Pounds 200,000 to replenish instrument stock for use by pupils being taught with old and unsuitable instruments, some being held together by Sellotape, insulating tape and Blu Tac."