A talented jazz musician who first developed his talent at school in Moray has urged the authority to rethink plans to increase tuition fees.
Martin Thomson, 21, has studied at St Mary’s Music School in Edinburgh and is currently in his final year at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London.
He took up playing brass instruments while a pupil at Greenwards Primary School in Elgin and since then has gone from strength to strength, earning a scholarship to St Mary’s while still in high school.
From there, he became a talented jazz musician and is a member of four different bands, while also taking part in a number of music-related past-times.
He was shocked to find out Moray Council is planning to raise music tuition fees by 85%, taking them to £699 a year, to generate extra cash to balance the books.
It has already prompted the authority’s long-serving and influential head of music instruction service John Mustard to quit.
>> Keep up to date with the latest news with The P&J newsletter
And last night, Mr Thomson called on the council to reverse their decision and stressed the importance of music lessons to children.
He said: “I believe music tuition is vital to children, it helps them to almost unlock a different side of their brain and it should be on a par with the likes of maths and English.
“When I was younger, I wasn’t good at anything but when I started doing music lessons it became a huge part of my life and got such joy from it, it is now my career.
“It’s a shocking decision as there are going to be talented kids out there whose parent’s can’t afford to pay for that, and they are going to give up on their dream.”
Mr Thomson helps to organise the Let It Snow charity concert in Elgin every Christmas.
He has also played at Gravissimo Festival in Portugal, one of the world’s biggest brass music festivals with his band Dopey Monkey.
With Midlothian Council recently making a U-turn after completely cancelling their music tuition, Mr Thomson is hoping Moray Council make a similar decision.
He said: “Moray children shouldn’t be neglected in this way and hopefully the council see the passion that there is for this service and backtrack.”
Education officers at Moray Council have already pledged to review the controversial increase to the cost of music lessons but a decision has not yet been made on that.