MUSIC tuition at schools across Scotland is facing “extinction” in the face of council cuts, experts have warned.

The warning came as local authorities across the country consider fresh proposals to cut the number of specialist music teachers and charge families more for lessons.

New figures from the instrumental music teachers’ network, run by the Educational Institute of Scotland, show there are nearly 350 fewer music instructors now than in 2007 – down from 1043 to 701.

The EIS said it feared Scotland was rapidly moving towards a scenario where only children from well-off families or those at private schools could learn to play an instrument.

Kirk Richardson, convener of the network, also warned school orchestras would become a thing of the past with pupils learning little more than recorders, ukuleles and “a kazoo”.a Mr Richardson said: “We have all these politicians travelling up and down the country to school events marvelling at the quality of school orchestras, but they will be wondering where they have all gone in a few years time.

“For several years now music education has been under threat, due to budget cutbacks and a reducing number of instrumental music teachers. Our concern now is that instrumental music services are being eroded to the point of extinction. This cannot be allowed to happen.”

Mr Richardson said increasing charges to families meant only the well-off or those in private schools could play instruments in future.

“We are rapidly moving towards a scenario where only children from well-off families can learn to play an instrument. This would be unjust and unacceptable.”

The EIS has warned in a letter to MSPs that continuing cuts to music would lead to “dire consequences” including significant job losses among skilled professional teachers. They also highlighted the undermining of the curriculum and an erosion of state schools’ contribution to the cultural life of the country.

John Wallace, chairman of the Music Education Partnership Group, said there would be a significant impact on the whole of Scotland.

He said: “Scottish state schools had a world class system, but it is being dismantled and it is a retrograde step. Music is a tremendous facilitator for upward social mobility, but it seems that we now consider that to be a thing of the past. If you are in the state system you will have a much plainer diet than pupils in the private sector who will continue to enjoy a much richer curriculum. That is clearly unfair.”

Eleven local authorities across Scotland increased their music tuition rates for the academic year 2017-18.

Councils who are considering or who have recently considered music cuts include Angus, Midlothian, East Lothian, Clackmannanshire, South Ayrshire, Moray, Aberdeen, East Renfrewshire, Highland, North Lanarkshire and Fife.