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Head of Music Service quits over increase in tuition charges

John Mustard quits after 30 years of service after Moray Council decides to increase charges by 85% for musical tuition for pupils.

John Mustard
  John Mustard has been an inspirational teacher for over 30 years

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.

Funding gap

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

Furious response

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."

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