They have been described as the jewel in East Renfrewshire’s crown.

But school orchestras are facing cutbacks as council bosses target the area's instrumental music programme in a bid to make savings.

On Friday, councillors approved plans which will see £138,000 stripped from the scheme between 2019 and 2021.

That came despite an amendment proposal being made by Councillor Paul Aitken, who advised his colleagues that there are currently 52 pupils playing in regional and national orchestras.

Cllr Aitken, who was not able to find a seconder for his amendment, claimed fellow councillors had taken the easy option.

He said: “While I appreciate that the cuts have been deferred for the coming financial year, we are still facing £138,000 of cuts over the next three years.

“As you will be aware, our schools music department is one of the jewels in the East Renfrewshire crown. It is the goose which keeps on laying the golden eggs.

“I would ask the council to reconsider making these proposed cuts totalling £138,000 to our East Renfrewshire schools music department.”

Currently, nine East Renfrewshire pupils play in the junior section of the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland.

There are also six East Renfrewshire players in the senior orchestra and six in the symphony orchestra.

Twelve pupils play in the West of Scotland Schools Orchestra and, in the West of Scotland Schools Concert Band, there are 16 East Renfrewshire pupils – making up a quarter of the band.

In addition, there are three local pupils in the UK-wide National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain – described by Cllr Aitken as the “ultimate” level any school musician can achieve.

Cllr Aitken said: “Our East Renfrewshire state school pupils are punching way above their weight and competing with pupils from private schools, boarding schools and specialist music schools from all over the UK.

“Currently, the parents of East Renfrewshire pupils learning musical instruments, no matter their financial circumstances, are having to pay annual tuition fees of £300.

“On top of that, parents have to find hundreds or even thousands of pounds to buy their children their musical instruments.

“It is easy to see how it is more likely to be children from more fortunate families who can afford to take up music, rather than children from less fortunate families.

“To put this into perspective, East Renfrewshire’s annual tuition fee of £300 is the fifth highest of all 32 local authorities.

“Two of our neighbouring local authorities – Glasgow City Council and Renfrewshire Council – don’t charge any annual tuition fees whatsoever.

"This isn’t a great way to treat one of the jewels in the East Renfrewshire crown.”

Cllr Aitken’s comments come as the Instrumental Music Teachers Network, run by the Educational Institute of Scotland, warned councils over scrapping music schemes.

Kirk Richardson, convener of the network, claimed pupils would learn little more than recorders, ukuleles and “a kazoo” if instrumental music budgets were cut.

He said: “We have all these politicians travelling up and down the country to school events, marvelling at the quality of school orchestras, but they will be wondering where they have all gone in a few years’ time.

“For several years now, music education has been under threat, due to budget cutbacks and a reducing number of instrumental music teachers. Our concern now is that instrumental music services are being eroded to the point of extinction.

“This cannot be allowed to happen.

“We are rapidly moving towards a scenario where only children from well-off families can learn to play an instrument. This would be unjust and unacceptable.”

East Renfrewshire Council is expected to finalise the cuts during next year’s budget.