For music students, access to a quality instrument that is in good working order is essential to developing their musical abilities. Whether it’s choosing an entry-level violin, or finding a good “6 string” to use for guitar lessons, one question that many people have is whether they should buy or lease instruments. There are many factors to consider in regard to the decision to rent or own an instrument and in this article we are going to examine both options.
Renting an Instrument
Depending on the instrument, finding one that is suitable for a novice player may not be a cheap or easy process. It can be difficult to tell which model will be right in the long term until the student has at least a few months of instruction under their belt. In some cases, a music school may have instruments available to borrow for the school year, but it may be worth examining all of your options before renting an instrument.
One benefit of renting an instrument, is that it gives the student an opportunity to decide whether or not playing music is something they would like to actively pursue, or if it’s more of a passing interest that they may lose interest in. This allows some financial flexibility, in that renting does not commit you to purchasing an instrument that could potentially cost several hundred or several thousand dollars.
Many music stores and music schools offer risk free rental plans which allow students to try an instrument for a period of a few months with the option of switching instruments at a later date. You may also have to option of renting month-to-month, although doing so may cost more per month than you would pay with a longer rental agreement.
Also, many instrument rental plans include repair insurance, covering some types of breaks and adjustments during the rental period. This type of plan can be especially important for a beginner who may still be developing an understanding of how assemble and/or maintain an instrument. If you don’t know what you are doing, changing the strings on a guitar or other stringed instruments can be a difficult process, and if done improperly, could damage the instrument.
Another important factor for the student to keep in mind when considering which instrument they want to learn to play is that some of the smaller and more popular orchestral instruments such as flutes, clarinets, and violins typically rent for around $20-30 per month. However, larger and less popular instruments such as tubas, French horns, and other may cost pretty penny.
Buying an Instrument
Buying an instrument is a good option when the student has decided that they are committed to their instrument of choice. As music students progress in skill level and begin to hone their talents, it is not unusual for them to desire an instrument that is of a finer quality than some of the lower end models. And yes, you do get what you pay for, as higher priced instruments tend to be made with better materials and more skilled craftsmanship than their budget priced counterparts. Some people may even decide that they want a totally customized instrument, though this tends to get very pricey – very quickly.
With many instruments, the cost of renting one for an entire year can actually be more expensive in the long run than buying an instrument, even if you you pay it off in installments.
Buying an instrument also affords the student a lot more options as far as style, quality and manufacturer are concerned.
When searching for an instrument for purchase, you can usually find high quality used instruments at a fraction of the cost of a brand new one, though you may have to sacrifice some particulars, such as brand, model and style by choosing this option. Chain stores like Guitar Center offer a variety of equipment and instruments, and not just guitars. At these larger instrument retailers you can also find pianos, keyboards, drums and all sorts of peripherals that go along with them. Alternately, Most band and orchestral instruments can be purchased at specialized music stores that cater more towards instruments for classically trained musicians.
While renting or owning can both be good options, it is important to take into consideration several factors before making a decision, such as skill level, budget, and the likelihood of continued interest in learning music. By using the information in this article, and by asking employees at your local music store or teachers at your music school, you can get advice from people who are familiar with a wide variety of different instruments, and have the expertise to help you find an instrument that suits your needs.
Do you play an instrument? If so, tell us which one, and give us your best tips on selecting instruments for people of varying skill levels.