Rent or Buy? Some Practical Considerations for Parents
You and your child have made the decision for musical studies to begin! Now you must find an instrument that suits your budget and your child's abilities. Below are some guidelines to consider in making the decision to rent or buy your child's first string instrument.
Good Reasons to Rent
- To "test the waters" and allow a low-stress trial period for the student
- Financial commitment is less (short-term)
When to Rent?
Renting should definitely be considered by all beginning players. Rental instruments can be acquired from some retail music stores and from many public and private schools.
The advantages of renting are that the initial financial commitment and maintenance costs are less. When a student is just beginning musical studies, it is difficult to assess what his or her level of commitment will be or the student may be sure but the parents may have doubts. Physical, mental and emotional development, as well as the student-teacher relationship and family dynamics all contribute to a student's success with an instrument. Family circumstances or new interests may draw the student away from music and in other directions. If you rent on a month-by-month, quarterly or semester basis, there will be less stress if the student loses interest in music or decides to pursue a different instrument.
A disadvantage to renting is that many rental or rent-to-own instruments are of lower quality and have limited trade value. In addition, long-term use of a lower quality instrument may inhibit a student's development.
Good Reasons to Buy
- To acquire a better sounding, more responsive instrument
- To reward commitment
- To accelerate progress (on recommendation of teacher)
- To increase future options for "trading-up"
To develop a long-term relationship with a violin shop and workshop able to provide:
- Proper set-up of instruments
- Quality maintenance
- Opportunities to trade-up in quality
- Professional expertise, connections and educational referrals
When to Buy?
When the student is no longer a beginner and the parents and teacher agree that the student is committed to continued musical studies, it is wise to consider purchasing an instrument. A better quality instrument will often enable progress due to improved sound and ease of response, which tend to encourage more practice. Better sound will also enable increased depth of understanding on the part of the student and increased enjoyment for the family.
When you are ready to buy, find a reputable dealer who is known to your teacher. If your teacher is unfamiliar with dealers in your area, you can contact the state chapter of the American String Teachers Association (ASTA) or your local symphony for recommendations. A good dealer will offer a selection of instruments by different makers and understand the national and international markets. Look for a shop that provides information and guidance without pressure and sales representatives who are willing to listen to your needs and the preferences of your teacher. The best shops have a stated trade-in policy and have professionally trained staff who can provide sound adjustments, maintenance and repair service for your instruments and bows. Ideally, find a shop that sells both to students and professionals. Find someone you can trust and work with throughout the course of the student's musical education and career.