CHILDREN who play string or percussion instruments look set to lose their free school tuition as a struggling council forces through budget cuts.

Following an emotional meeting in Livingston yesterday, West Lothian Council officials have recommended ending classes for the likes of violins, guitars and drums as they seek to save just less than £1 million – half of the music provision budget – over the next two years.

The council will make a decision on the cuts, which could also result in four teaching posts being cut, in April.

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READ MORE: State school music tuition facing ‘extinction’ after council cutbacks

About 15 young musicians who would be affected by the cuts played their instruments outside the council headquarters at Livingston’s Civic Centre before the meeting, and some left “in tears” following the recommendations by the committee.

Parents opposing the proposals say they understand the council’s need to cut some services as it faces a budget shortfall of more than £65m over the next five years, but they are angry their own proposals for the council to charge for tuition were “dismissed out of hand” after being put forward at the meeting.

An online group, Save Our Strings and Percussion, has amassed more than 2,500 signatures, including those of violinist Nicola Benedetti and folk musician Phil Cunningham.

READ MORE: State school music tuition facing ‘extinction’ after council cutbacks

Parent Gordon Struth, whose 13-year-old daughter plays violin at Linlithgow Academy, said: “We are very concerned that this will affect pupils who have already chosen their instruments for their Highers and will have no tuition or no orchestras to play in.”

The council say the proposals will protect £500,000 of free tuition for pupils who play brass, woodwind and piping instruments.

A council spokesman said: “We are one of very few local authorities in Scotland who offer free instrumental music tuition, with the majority of councils now charging for lessons. Instrumental music is not statutory, so councils have no obligation to provide tuition.”