More than 4,000 youngsters across the Highlands are now learning a musical instrument – the highest level since High Life Highland started lessons.
The charity began offering music lessons when the service transferred over in 2017 with 2,900 pupils.
Numbers peaked at 3,700 at the beginning of 2020, just as the pandemic struck.
HLH Head of Music Development Norman Bolton said: “Now that Instructors can once again recruit pupils, and the announcement from Scottish Government that music tuition fees no longer apply, I’m delighted to say we’ve now exceeded 4,000 pupils.
“These numbers are very much due to the flexibility of our instructors, adopting a blend of in-person and online tuition.
“With these blended strategies we can reach some of our more remote schools for the first time.
“We were able to maintain a high level of access to tuition throughout lockdown thanks to the support from The Highland Council colleagues and our schools’ IT infrastructure.
“We have been able to invest in some new instruments, and Instructors are carefully working through the applications as demand increases.”
High Life Highland has 49 music instructors who operate across most Highland schools. The 4000th pupil was Joni, in P6 at Cromarty Primary, and will be having violin lessons with HLH Instructor Jan Anderson.
Cllr John Finlayson, Chair of Highland Council’s Education Committee said: “Learning a musical instrument is a life-long skill and passion that many young people enjoy throughout their lives into adulthood, including some who take it forward as a career.
“Demand has always been extremely high for music lessons in Highland schools and I am delighted with the excellent expansion and increase in the number of young people having access to music lessons through our partnership with High Life Highland.
“Music is part of the culture and very soul of the Highlands and it is great that we are able to develop and foster new talent among our own communities and schools.”
HLH also offers the chance to learn from the comfort of your own home with evening classes for vocal and guitar tuition.
A new block of lessons are now available to book with more information at www.highlifehighland.com/music-tuition
Mr Bolton added: “Getting tuition back in place has been challenging but, I’m glad to say, successful.
“We are very much looking forward to getting extra-curricular school and area groups back to rehearsals, with the plan being to have the flagship Highland Young Musicians groups activities back in the picture by early 2022.
“We’ve made many changes to what we do and how we do it over the past couple of years and are all looking forward to exciting times ahead and some more wonderful music making in Highland schools and communities.”