Councils have raked in nearly £3 million of profit by charging children for music tuition and exams, a teaching union has revealed.
Some local authorities are charging "shocking" fees many times higher than the cost of providing the tuition, according to the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS).
Two of the most expensive councils earned around half a million each from child tuition. The EIS is concerned that the net profits are being used to shore up other budget areas at a time when music tuition is facing cuts across Scotland.
EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan, said: "It is truly shocking, at a time of deep cuts to music tuition in schools across Scotland, that local authorities are collectively raking in profits of almost £3 million from charges for music tuition.
"Education should be about providing an equal opportunity for all to benefit and learn but, sadly, in the case of music instruction a small number of pupils are being charged a heavy price for developing their talents in music. Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) places encouraging creativity at the heart of pupils' educational experience, but cuts to music instruction are undermining this central founding principle of CfE."
Figures obtained by the EIS reveal that Aberdeen City Council generated £523,000 of additional revenue by charging 1,863 pupils up to £340 each for music tuition - and even charged them for their exams at the end of the course. Six local authorities currently charge or have plans to charge pupils taking SQA music examinations in session 2012/13.
Highland Council took £435,000 profit by charging 2,513 pupils £252 each for tuition and exams, while Moray Council took £118,000 extra by charging 578 pupils up to £300 each. Scotland's largest local authorities Glasgow and Edinburgh provided tuition for over 9,000 pupils between them for free.
Mr Flanagan added, "It is incredible that, while some local authorities levy no charges at all for music tuition or charge simply to cover costs, others are charging pupils excessive fees and generating substantial profits into the Council coffers.
"Two local authorities in particular are responsible for generating almost a million pounds in collective profit through music instruction fees, with both taking in around £500k more from pupils than it costs to operate the service. These Councils, and the others who are profiting from pupils' eagerness to learn, need to explain their actions and outline precisely how this excess revenue is being spent to support music education in our schools."
The EIS will present its finding to the Scottish Parliament's Education and Culture Committee on Tuesday.