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Should you rent or buy a musical instrument for your budding prodigy?

March 25, 2015

By Pam Leibfried

March is National Music in Schools Month!

My 11-year-old nephew is starting his second instrument in as many years. A couple of his cousins have started and stopped playing piano and guitar. And I don’t think that the children in my family are unusual – children just tend to be fickle. That is why so many parents choose to rent musical instruments for their school-aged children instead of buying them.

Borrow an instrument

Before you price out the cost of renting or purchasing, check to see if you can borrow an instrument. Some school music programs have instruments that beginners can borrow, though that is becoming increasingly rare as school arts budgets are reduced. Or maybe you have a family member or friend who used to play the instrument your child is interested in. If so, ask them if they would be willing to loan it to your child. If their trumpet or trombone has been sitting in a closet gathering dust, but they just can’t bring themselves to sell it, they may be happy to see it put to good use. I know if one of my nieces or nephews said they wanted to play the clarinet, I would be happy to loan mine to them.

When I started playing the clarinet in grade school, I first borrowed an instrument from my school. But once my parents knew that I loved it, they bought one for me. I went on to play from fifth grade through high school, and even performed clarinet accompaniments to a song or two at my college’s winter sacred chorales. To this day, 35+ years later, I occasionally pull out my clarinet and play a tune to lift my spirits and literally blow away a bad mood. For my parents, buying was the right choice, and they definitely got their money’s worth out of that decision. Or more accurately, I definitely got their money’s worth! 

Buy a new instrument

If your child already plays an instrument, practices regularly without nagging and really loves it, purchasing may be the best option for your family. Below are some of the cost factors to consider when buying:

Buy a used instrument 

Even when your child loves the instrument he or she plays, buying a new one might be too expensive for your budget. A possible solution? Buy a used instrument.

Rent or lease an instrument

Maybe you’re not sure that your child is really committed to sticking with it. Or even though your child is committed, you’re just not sure that you can afford to buy an expensive instrument. Here are some of the factors you need to investigate and consider when it comes to instrument rentals: