Hi, I’m Janet and I’m really glad to be guest posting for Jaki today! I’ve been living in North Yorkshire for over 20 years since I met my husband, although I have West Country roots. My daughters Fizz and Belle are at secondary school. My current blog Falcondale Life is now 18 months old. I am a photographer and that features heavily on my blog along with family travel and lifestyle.
A musical instrument for your child – buy, rent or borrow?
When I was 12 I learned the flute for about a year. I had a cheap instrument and I never got rid of it. Years later my daughter Fizz, then 8 years old, said she wanted to learn the flute. That made life pretty easy as I only had to pay for the lessons and she could start with my old flute. As the children have grown we have bought and borrowed musical instruments from a variety of places.
Musical Instrument Shops
Within a few months of Fizz starting the flute a key jammed and I took it to the music shop in town. A service cost me around $45 but they did lend us a good instrument for her to use while it was away.
Our local music shop doesn’t just sell instruments but also rents them out on a long-term basis. Hire is between around £7 and £15 per month. They specialize in woodwind and also a full range of beginner’s instruments. For a high standard in non-woodwind instruments, we would need to travel to a city to find another shop. Virtually all musical instrument shops will buy your old instrument or take it in part exchange.
Did you know that you can get a better price for your old stringed instruments in the south of England than in the north? When I sold my old violin I doubled the value by travelling south and selling it in Bristol. There were three violin shops on the same street and I touted it round all of them until I got the best price. The north of England is, of course, the heart of the brass band community and rumour has it that brass prices are higher round here than down south. Ebay does have a slight levelling effect on the market but you do really need to try an instrument before you buy.
The Council Music Service
Council music education departments have some loan instruments for rent. Sometimes this is arranged through the peripatetic music teachers or the school. The council-run music service may also run orchestras and ensembles for children of all abilities. Your child may be able to get a loan instrument through them instead. Hire is usually around £15 to £30 per term.
Sometimes instrument rental is free. It can depend on how popular the instrument is. For example, our local council is pretty desperate for someone to learn bassoon to balance out the orchestra woodwind section, so they are not charging rent. Check that all borrowed instruments are insured on your household policy.
Some councils help families buy new musical instruments from shops with a scheme that avoids VAT. These instruments must be used in school lessons or council music service orchestras in order to comply with tax rules.
Musical Instrument Cupboards at School
If you are lucky then school cupboards are one of the likeliest places to borrow an instrument for free. The quality is quite hit and miss. Chances are the person helping you look will not understand if the instrument is a good one or utter trash. It’s up to the school if they want to charge rent, and I always felt motivated to make a donation anyway.
We’ve made some interesting discoveries in school cupboards over the years. One time, the primary music teacher and I found four half-size violins in cases, gathering dust. One of them was still in kit form and needed assembling. You cannot make a violin as if it is flat-pack furniture! I would never recommend attempting this as an amateur. A second had been glued together with the fretboard on a steep angle, and would never play. Another violin was missing a bridge and the fourth was missing two strings. My daughter Belle borrowed the fourth for free. We bought the new strings ourselves.
Your child will have lots of interesting experiences as s/he learns, read my piece about it here: https://falcondalelife.com/2017/10/11/kids-learning-musical-instrument/
There are quite a few places to find musical instruments for a young learner. Have you found other ways of getting hold of one?
Thank you to Janet for contributing a helpful piece. Whilst I’m not at this stage with our Little Man, it is inevitable that now he is at school, that the time will come eventually! And I hope it does, I think learning to play an instrument is definitely something that should be encouraged when possible. Thanks again Janet, and don’t forget your badge!
If you would like to get involved in the Guest Blogger Series, drop me a message by filling in the form on my Contact Me page. I look forward to hearing from you.