Reduction in Moray's musical tuition fees by 30 per cent is welcomed
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THE reduction of musical tuition fees for children and young people in Moray by almost a third has been welcomed.
Last Thursday's Moray Council budget meeting saw the charges reduced by 30 per cent for the next financial year.
It is hoped the reduction in charges will see more young people learn to play an instrument.
Previously, Moray had the second highest charges of all local authorities in Scotland. After the reduction, families will pay – per pupil – circa £204 per annum for group instruction, £291 for individual instruction and £4.90 per week for Moray Music Centre.
Currently 429 pupils across primary and secondary schools in Moray are learning how to play an instrument in school.
Some of these are already exempt from fees, including all of those receiving free school meals.
Councillor Tim Eagle (Buckie, Conservative) put forward the motion to reduce the fees, which was met with no opposition and was supported by all parties.
Cllr Eagle said: “The council's charges for musical instruction were the highest in the area and, given we are a low wage economy and taking into account the effect that Covid has had on the service, it was vital that we debate again what those charges should look like moving forward.
"I am aware that the service has lost nearly 100 students since the beginning of Covid.
“We spoke with officers about how we could reduce these charges to make musical instruction as accessible as possible for those currently using it but also to encourage a new generation of students to take up playing an instrument.
“Lowering charges would make instruction much more attractive to parents. It is already well known that learning a musical instrument has positive impacts on mental health, wellbeing and attainment.
“Personally I would love it to be free, but we are not in a position to do that at this moment, perhaps in the future we can move to a model where musical instruction, a vital part of our culture, truly is accessible to all."
Convener of Moray Council, Shona Morrison (Fochabers-Lhanbryde, SNP), added: “The excellent feedback from families who take part in instrumental instruction shows the quality of the lessons provided by our instructors.
"Despite the challenges of the restrictions in place, our learners and staff have adapted and lessons have been delivered remotely.
“It’s the hope of all councillors and education staff that more children and young people are encouraged to learn to play an instrument.
"While pupils entitled to free school meals are exempt from fees, by reducing the financial barrier for other families it provides better value for money and should help more access the service.”