CHARGING for music tuition in schools is “unfair” and deepens inequality, MSPs have been told.

Costs vary across Scotland, with free tuition in some council areas while others, such as Clackmannanshire, charge more than £500.

Two members of the Scottish Youth Parliament yesterday gave evidence to Holyrood’s Education and Skills Committee, which is holding an inquiry into the subject

Alice Ferguson, who represents Linlithgow, last year set up a campaign to save free music tuition in her council area of West Lothian, where pupils are now charged £328 a year.

She told MSPs this works out at £10 per 25-minute lesson – involving up to 10 pupils – while one-on-one private lessons are available at 30 minutes for £30.

Pupils who qualify for free school meals are exempt from charges but Ferguson said this does not help those just above the threshold.

She told the committee: “I know a lot of my friends have now dropped out of music just because they can’t afford it, which is ridiculous. The council wants to reduce inequality but by charging for music they are increasing inequality.”

Catherine Mackie, MSYP for Glasgow Southside, said: “Without learning to play an instrument, who knows what potential talent we might be missing out on? We could have the next Bach, the next Nicola Benedetti, the next anyone in our schools.

“It’s imperative music is free for everyone. You can’t put a price on it.”