Catastrophic cuts to music lessons in schools could be made worse by government plans to shake up the running of Scottish education, teachers have warned.

The country's largest teaching union the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), says Instrumental Music Services have been "decimated" as a result of pressure on local authority budgets. But planned governance changes could make the situation even worse.

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan claimed £1 million had been cut from IM services in recent years as councils chose to cut back on elements of education which are not protected as statutory requirements.

Mr Flanagan added, “Potential reorganisation, as a result of the Governance Review, could make the situation worse. With more decisions devolved to school level, and with increasingly scarce school resources, an even greater postcode lottery of provision may emerge within individual authorities as headteachers make increasingly difficult decisions on how to balance budgets."

Mr Flanagan called on the Scottish Government to step in to protect instrumental music provision.

“In recent years, there has been an ever-widening postcode lottery of IM provision. A growing number of local authorities have made substantial cuts to their instrumental music service, with the loss of instrumental music teacher posts and fewer opportunities for young people to access instrumental music tuition," he said.

Meanwhile the chance to learn an instrument is becoming increasingly dependent upon families' ability to pay, he warned.

"Wide variations in charging policy have emerged across Scotland so that, in many local authority areas, it is becoming a case of ‘who pays plays’ with regard to instrumental music. Currently, 22 out of 32 local authorities levy some level of charge for pupils accessing instrumental music tuition – creating a clear barrier to entry for many young people."

Among councils which now charge for tuition the average fee for group lessons in 2017/18 is £212 per pupil per year, the EIS says, a figure is 4.7% higher than the 2016/17 average.

Mr Flanagan added: "It is time for the Scottish Government to act to protect the tradition of instrumental music tuition in our schools either by providing ring-fenced funding to protect this service or introducing a statutory entitlement for young people.

"Learning how to play an instrument is invaluable to individual pupils including in terms of increased self-confidence and in the ability to work collectively with others. Action to protect provision would preserve, also, Scotland’s proud cultural tradition of excellence in all types of instrumental music and song.”

The EIS also claims the viability of SQA music qualifications could be threatened by an erosion of music lessons, with 60 per cent of exam assessments based on pupils' performing skills.

According to a report from the Improvement Service, which promotes good quality public services, approximately 61,615 pupils received lessons last year, with at least 16,603 pupils taking part in additional activities such as bands, orchestras and school concerts. However it noted: "the majority of Instrumental Music Services are limited by resource and teaching capacity, and are unable to provide lessons for all interested pupils.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "Funding to local authorities – who are responsible for the delivery of education, including music services – has been very fair, in light of continued UK Government cuts to Scotland’s budget, and is increasing. The draft budget also commits £120 million direct to head teachers to ensure all young people fulfil their potential.

“Investment of £109 million since 2007 in the Youth Music Initiative has made a huge impact, helping young people across the country access opportunities.

“In addition, we provide £2.5 million to Sistema Scotland – a charity providing opportunities for young people to get involved in their ‘Big Noise’ orchestras, which reaches 2,000 children weekly.”

A spokesman for councils body Cosla said: "Like all budgetary decisions, this is rightly and properly an operational matter for individual Councils based on local need and circumstance in their area. Cuts to councils' funding certainly won't improve the situation."