A group which has been instrumental in giving youngsters access to music tuition hopes a pair of fundraising concerts will further its reach.
For 15 years the Perth and Kinross Music Foundation has given financial aid to young musicians across the region.
The registered charity has handed out £13,000 already this year to help dozens of young players achieve their musical ambitions.
It was founded by local woman Janette Stewart, after she struggled to meet the price of lessons for her daughter, who is now a music teacher.
The foundation assists all pupils of Perth and Kinross Council schools who require financial support from P4 to S6.
Families in receipt of working tax credits or high child tax credits, or who experience difficult circumstances, are eligible to apply for help.
Individuals donors regularly contribute to the foundation, whose main sponsors include the Gannochy Trust, the Guildry Incorporation of Perth, The Cross Trust, and The Jimmie Cairncross Trust. The number of people seeking assistance is increasing and 75 families were helped last year.
Chairman Sigurd Scott said: “We are delighted to assist young musicians in achieving their full potential.
“The work of the foundation is supported by independent donations and donations from organisations such as the Gannochy Trust. We do as much fundraising as possible and are always so grateful with how generous people are.
“So far this year, we have supported 60 young musicians and this came to a staggering £13,000. We thank everyone who has supported the foundation and that their continued support is vital to our commitment to young musicians.”
The cost of lessons in Perth and Kinross schools at £245.85 per year is one of the highest in Scotland. It is one of 24 local authorities which charges for lessons.
Without the Perth and Kinross Music Foundation, lessons would be beyond the means of many families.
The lessons, provided by the Instrumental Music Service within Education and Children’s Service of Perth and Kinross Council, see instrumental tutors visit schools and provide lessons in a particular instrument or family of instruments.
Although cheap compared to private lessons, the sessions are free in some council areas, such as Edinburgh and Glasgow.
The situation led to claims last year by Scotland’s largest teaching union, the EIS, that pupils face a “postcode lottery” over accessibility to lessons.
The cost in neighbouring Fife is only £125 and Angus £183, while Dundee City charges £132 plus £83 for use of an instrument.
The union’s general secretary, Larry Flanagan, said: “The postcode lottery of provision that has emerged across Scotland, with wide variations in fee policy and the level of charges for instrumental music tuition, is causing significant damage to the availability of music education for children in some parts of Scotland.”
The EIS also claimed some councils are making a massive profit from the charges, but did not identify which ones it was referring to.
The Scottish Government said the charges levied by some authorities are “undesirable” but necessary and commissioned an Instrumental Music Group to look at how music tuition is delivered.
In December it also announced a £1 million cash injection for Scottish schools to buy new instruments.
l The first Perth and Kinross Music Foundation concert takes place this evening at Glenearn Community Campus at 7.30pm. It will be a Scottish Evening, produced by Mo Rutherford and Mhairi Mackinnon, with fiddler Pete Clerk.
On February 19 a Brass Evening conducted by Jason Blyth and Edna Auld will be held at the same venue, featuring Perthshire Youth Brass and the Jamboree Choir. Tickets for both events are available at the door.