Committee backs principle of free music tuition


Music tuition in schools should be provided free of charge. This is the conclusion of a report issued today by Holyrood’s Education and Skills Committee which explores the provision of instrumental music tuition in schools.

During the inquiry, the Committee heard about the impact charging for tuition can have, with one local authority seeing nearly 70% of pupils receiving music tuition dropping out following the introduction of charges.

Although the Committee recognised the right of local authorities to take decisions about local expenditure, the report highlights the risk to instrumental tuition in Scotland if no action is taken and asks local authorities to re-examine the guidance for these services.

The Committee recommends a review of funding for music tuition as well as extension of Scottish Government support for programmes such as the Youth Music Initiative.

The Committee Convener, Clare Adamson MSP said:

“There is little doubt about the positive benefits that music can have on us as individuals, as communities and indeed to the wider Scottish culture and economy. However, for too many young people, these opportunities are being lost because of increasingly unaffordable fees. This is why our Committee believes in the principle that music tuition should be free.

“However, we recognise that in many local authorities, charging for music tuition is a reality and a decision which will not have been made lightly. This does not mean there is nothing to be done. Local authorities must work harder to make sure that those who can afford it the least do not lose out the most. This is why we have recommended that the funding for these services is re-examined and that more is done to extend concessions and discounts where possible. 

“Time and again we have heard this issue discussed in the Scottish Parliament. But whilst we talk, there are young people losing out. Changes must be made.  COSLA and the Scottish Government have to do all they can to ensure that tuition is affordable and something that can be accessed by all. Otherwise we are in danger of reaching a tipping point for music tuition in Scotland.”


During evidence, the Committee heard from West Lothian Council who stated that:

“Since we introduced charging, the number of primary students in tuition has decreased from 1,128 last November [2017] to 234 this year [2018... At secondary level, the number of students has decreased from 1,042 in November 2017 to 514 in November this year [2018].”

In December 2018, the Improvement Service Scotland reported that charges for individual music tuition were as follows:


Local Authority

2018/19 Fees (per pupil, per instrument)

Aberdeen City





£231 (plus £30 hire)

Argyll and Bute




Dumfries and Galloway



No charge (£85 hire)

East Ayrshire


East Dunbartonshire


East Lothian


East Renfrewshire



No charge

Eilean Siar

No charge






No charge









North Ayrshire


North Lanarkshire



No charge

Perth and Kinross



No charge

Scottish Borders




South Ayrshire


South Lanarkshire




West Dunbartonshire

No charge (£85 hire)

West Lothian


More information about the Committee’s inquiry can be found on the Committee’s Webpages.

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