SCHOOL music teachers and bands, which provide education and enjoyment for thousands of Hampshire children, have so far been spared from swingeing budget cuts, it has emerged.

Last July the county council axed £200,000 of its £750,000 core funding to Hampshire Music Service, which provides instrumental tuition in schools and runs orchestras.

Managers warned programmes of activities for some music groups would be reduced and a small charge for hiring of instruments introduced from September 2010.

At least 64 councils across the country have already issued redundancy notices to music staff, according to the Incorporated Society of Musicians.

However Hampshire Music Service, which is rated “outstanding” by inspectors, still supports 70 orchestras and ensembles as well as teaching around 39,000 children across the county per week.

No activities have been stopped and none of the 280 music teachers laid-off, says the council which is drawing up its budget for 2011-12.

Membership of orchestras and ensembles, including jazz, woodwind and brass, remains free and there is no charge for instrument hire.

Managers say savings have been made in staff training and IT budgets as well as ensuring events such as concerts are self-funding with income from ticket sales and grants from external bodies.

In addition, the music service is looking to raise money by marketing itself directly to parents, independent schools and home-educated children.

Councillor Roy Perry, deputy leader and executive lead member for children’s services, said: “Hampshire County Council’s Music Service is a flagship service attracting awards for the quality of its teaching and the musical opportunities it provides for young people.

“I am very keen that the county council continues to support the service as much as it possibly can in these financially challenging economic times.

“There is currently a Government review of music education and its funding and we await the outcome of this.”

The government has commissioned a review of how music is taught in schools which is being carried out by Classic FM head Darren Henley.

Local authorities provide just part of funding for school music lessons with the rest coming from central government grants.

A number of schemes dedicated to supporting school music face cuts or being channelled into a general schools budget for redistribution.

The former Labour government said all pupils should be able to learn an instrument.

Hampshire Music Service received a £250,000 government grant under the “Wider Opportunities” scheme enabling it to buy more instruments to lend to pupils via schools.

This helped double the number of primary school pupils who learned an instrument in class to about 30,000 in 2009.

The county music service also provides access to music to disadvantaged youngsters, including teaching children living in residential homes an instrument after school.