FEES FOR instrumental tuition have not deterred a large number of Highland pupils from wanting to make music. Although there was a dip after the charges of pound;90 a year were introduced, the numbers have since recovered and there is a waiting list of more than 350 for instruction.
There were 2,570 instrumentalists before the charges were imposed. There was then a drop to 1,883 but by last November the figure had risen to 2,462.
Of these almost a fifth are excused payment because of low income, and another 16 per cent have no fee because they are following SCE courses in music. Income from the charges is running at about pound;130,000, pound;50,000 less than the authority had originally estimated because of the numbers not paying.
The cost of the instrumental tuition service is almost pound;850,000 a year, including pound;60,000 on buying and repairing instruments.
The education committee has decided to fund two extra instructors from the income. Jack Findlay, head of school development, told councillors:
"Whatever the deterrent effect of charging, there are healthy numbers prepared to pay."
Education authorities vary in their attitude to charges, which some imposed in response to central government funding cuts. Brian Wilson, the previous Education Minister, was highly critical of pupils being charged.