ANGRY parents in the Wee County have urged the council to reverse an increase in music tuition fees after claiming it is turning it into an elite activity.

The group of parents have been left shocked and upset at the council’s decision to raise music tuition fees to a whopping £524 per year for a single child – which marks a 100 per cent increase from the year before.

The cost of a single half-hour group lesson is £17.50 per child, which is the same price of a one-to-one lesson at Dollar Academy.

Victoria Stephenson, who is a former musician and has children in Clacks schools, told the Advertiser that she thinks the council has an agenda.

She said: “They have slowly been increasing the fees every year but now they have doubled it. When people see the price, they are going to stop sending their kids.

“We think they are doing it so that they can phase it out and then get rid of it altogether.”

Jill Drysdale, who also has kids at a school in the area, said families were being priced out of music lessons.

She said: “In my opinion, the proposed 100 per cent increase in tuition fees makes instrumental tuition unaffordable for the majority of current and future potential users. It is unreasonable to raise fees for any service provision by 100 per cent.

“They are turning music into an elite activity for the few who can afford it. Instead of removing such opportunities, they should be improving access to music tuition for all, as a way of reaching the children who are less engaged in traditional educational.”

Clacks North Councillor Dave Clark said: “I have to point to the big picture before the local one. For five years, local government has had budgetary cuts now.

“That accounts for a total of £63 million out of a budget now standing at £118m. It is not the Labour Party's choice. The next three years continue the chaos with another £30m to be found. So it is not getting better.

“Locally, prior to the budget, the Labour Party campaigned for music tuition not be cut and you can still see evidence of this on Clacks Labour where I personally paid for the case to be advertised throughout our area.”

Alexander Stewart MSP told the Advertiser: “This is clearly a very difficult situation, especially for Clackmannanshire Council with their current financial problems.

“Given that 10 Scottish councils provide free instrumental music lessons; there is perhaps some room to take heed of these individual councils and look at the potential for further arrangements in the future.

"I have raised this issue on a number of occasions at Parliament. We believe the Scottish Government should take a lead – which we will be pushing for in the coming months.

“Personally I am a huge supporter of the ability to learn music, whether instrumental or vocal and agree that there is much evidence that learning to play musical instruments improves a child’s skills, concentration and co-ordination.”

Clackmannanshire Council commented: “The budget seeks to protect essential services while improving the council's financial sustainability. The concessionary rate remains unchanged, and the SQA element of music tuition remains fully funded by the council.”