SCOTLAND is in danger of losing its world class festivals, unless the government moves to protect music tuition in schools, one of the country’s leading singer-songwriters has warned.

During her show at Celtic Connections on Saturday Karine Polwart, told the two thousand fans squeezed into Glasgow’s Old Fruitmarket, and the many thousands of others watching on the internet, that music education needed to be considered a “priority”, by those in power.

The folk singer, who lives in the village of Fala in Midlothian, was speaking after her local council paved the way to become the first authority in Scotland to cut musical instrument tuition in schools, apart from those studying for Advanced Higher, Higher or National Five exams.

Polwart told the crowd that many other councils were likely “close behind”.

“If you think music education matters I would urge you to contact not only your own local council but the Scottish Government, who have the power to protect money for the purposes of music education in the county, should that be considered a priority.

“And I think it’s a priority, and I think it’s not good enough anymore for music and the arts to be the first things to get cut.”

Polwart also criticised the “mindset” of thinking “it’s a normal thing in a civilised modern society to be choosing between services for vulnerable families and the education of our kids.”

She added: “I don’t think that’s a reasonable choice to be making as a nation like us, that is able to put on a festival of this calibre, the biggest festival in Europe in the winter, an absolute flagship for Scottish culture, a place that musicians from around the world are absolutely proud and delighted to come and visit and share in this, what we have.

“This will not exist if we don’t have music education in schools.”

Midlothian Council Leader Derek Milligan hit back at Polwart: “The proposal officers are asking councillors to consider does not scrap all instrumental music tuition in our schools.

“Pupils will still get music in schools as part of the normal curriculum. Pupils studying for Higher and Advanced Higher music will continue to receive instrumental music tuition free of charge.”

The Labour councillor added: “However, there will no longer be the opportunity to pay for extra lessons to learn a musical instrument. This part of the music tuition provision is non-statutory and must be seen in the context of the wider funding gap facing Midlothian Council.

“We are as devastated as parents and pupils about having to consider a cut to this service. However, this needs to be seen in the context of preserving the core educational and care services Midlothian residents depend on.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said ministers were concerned at the prospect of "reduced access to instrumental music tuition.”

He said: “Music education is of enormous benefit to young people and, as set out in the Programme for Government, we are committed to working collaboratively to find solutions to help ensure instrumental music remains accessible to all.

‎“Local authorities are responsible for ensuring all children and young people have access to the full curriculum, including the expressive arts. While respecting the autonomy of local councils, we would be concerned by any decision that reduced access to instrumental music tuition.”

Polwart’s show, Scottish Songbook, was a celebration of the country’s pop music history.

It first premiered at last year’s Edinburgh International Festival before heading to Glasgow, and is due to tour across Scotland in the summer.

Over the weekend, Donald Shaw, who runs Celtic Connections, spoke out about his fears over music tuition cuts.

He told the Herald it was “extraordinary” that any council would even consider cutting free music tuition in schools.