One of the most respected Heads of Instrumental Instruction Services in Scotland has quit his post following the news that Moray Council will raise its music tuition fees by 85% to £699 a year.
For over 30 years John Mustard has been an inspirational figure — with many of his own and his service's pupils in the north east of Scotland enjoy fulfilling musical experiences and even professional careers.
However, despite the Scottish Parliament's Education & Skills Committee publishing a recent report that strongly recommended its support for free music tuition in local authorities, Moray Council — one of the smallest in Scotland, will go ahead with increasing its current fees for group and individual lessons for 30 lessons a year as part of an attempt to bridge a £14 million gap in its annual budget.
The current service provides tuition to over 800 students and sends more to the national orchestras per capita than anywhere else in Scotland. A hugely respected cellist, John has been responsible for annual concerts, masterclasses and performances that have helped thousands of pupils enjoy making music.
In a low wage economy such as Moray this will have the effect of depriving many young people of a valuable skill and pleasure for lifeJohn Mustard
The decision has generated a furious response from parents, as well as John Mustard's resignation.
In a statement issued immediately after the council agreed the increase on January 23rd, he said: "I can confirm that I have resigned as Head of Moray Council's music instruction service.
The reason is simple: I cannot agree with the decision by the council to raise the cost of music lessons by 85% — to what will be the highest level in Scotland.
In a low wage economy such as Moray this will have the effect of depriving many young people of a valuable skill and pleasure for life."
He added: "I regret this deeply, but I cannot be part of a decision that will do so much damage to a service I've built up to national acclaim over the last 30 years."