Should I rent or buy my Child’s (or my) first instrument?
Once you have committed to giving music a “try,” be it for your child or yourself, the first decision you’ll want to consider is selecting the right instrument. While the Music School at Bill Jones Music offers lessons in Piano, Keyboard, Voice, Musical Theater, Home School Choir, Violin, Cello, Guitar, Ukulele, Drums, Harps, Band Instruments, Pre-School Music Together Classes and more, many of the 22 teachers at our Bill Jones Music School suggest starting on a piano or keyboard as a great way for the student to learn the basics before going on to other instruments. Students starting on Pianos / Keyboards learn both treble and bass clef musical notation, counting, using all ten fingers at the same time plus learning the basic’s of music theory.
While learning music isn’t nearly as difficult as most people fear, learning music on a poor quality instrument can quickly ruin the students learning experience, dooming them to failure right from the start. In an effort to “test” interest, parents all too often go “cheap” not realizing this stacks the test against the student.
REMEMBER: When a student has an instrument that won’t play properly or doesn’t
sound good, the student automatically assumes the problem is within themselves, not realizing IT’S THE INSTRUMENT that’s hurting their progress. This presents a fast track to drop out and failure.
This is where renting an instrument can be helpful. You can rent a much higher quality instrument than you would want to initially purchase, giving the student a fair shot at learning while keeping the financial commitment low. The small cheap keyboard that sells for a couple hundreds dollars or less probably won’t have the features of a better quality instrument.
In the case of keyboards, a better quality instrument is one that has a full 88 keys, each key has good velocity sensitivity and the weight of the key simulates the weight of a acoustic piano key. For a quick Tutorial Video on this subject you can go to our YouTube Channel here:
While a used piano may seem to be a good way to start the learning process, please be sure the piano can be tuned to pitch and will hold a tuning as best possible. Most manufacturers recommend pianos should be tuned once or twice a year to stay in proper tune (even if they are not being played). It’s been my experience that an old piano with sticky keys that hasn’t been tuned in years, (“It’s just like new, no one’s touched it in years!”) doesn’t make a very good instrument to learn on.
While much of this Blog has focused on Keyboards and Pianos, we have found inexpensive poor quality String instruments are subject to the same issues. A poor quality new or used guitar may not hold a tune or sound just plain bad. The strings can also be hard to push down which beginners find particularly annoying. We’ve even had students bring in guitars that could not complete a 30 minute lesson without having to be completely retuned every few minutes. You can image how long those students last – not long ! That’s why we offer Yamaha guitars, which offer exceptionally high quality at a
very reasonable price. You can even rent a high quality Yamaha guitar from Bill Jones Music for just a few dollars a month.
Violins that are too inexpensive seem to present one of our biggest challenges. Most novices know very little about violins, so if it looks like a violin, it must be “OK” to learn on. It’s been our experience that the very inexpensive violins purchased on line by some of our customers have been extremely difficult for us to service. We’ve seen beginners frustrated when attempting to make a beautiful sound out of something made out of plastic and particle board. When a students best efforts are rewarded with mediocre sounds from a poor quality instrument there doesn’t seem to be much chance to succeed! On the other hand, we’ve seen students do far better, far faster when they have a better quality instrument from the start. Renting a quality instrument from Bill Jones Music gives your student the edge they need to succeed.
Another reason to rent a quality Guitars, Violin or cello is student sizing. Young people grow in size so from time to time they need a larger instrument. Violins, for example come in 1/10th, 1/8th, 1/4th, 1/2 and full size. The experts at Bill Jones Music school can be sure your child as the proper size instrument for their size.
Lastly, having an instrument that can be repaired and having someone capable of doing those repairs is important. Bill Jones Music services what they sell and rent, something that seems difficult to find in most places these days.
If spending the money for a quality instrument isn’t something you can or want to afford right now, consider renting a quality instrument for a few dollars a month. The Rental Plans at Bill Jones Music include purchase options allow for some of your rent to apply toward purchase at a later date. And if your worst fears are realized, you can always return a rental instrument before your investment goes too high.
You want your child to succeed, Bill Jones Music wants your child to succeed, your child wants to succeed. Let’s give them the best opportunity for that success by being sure they have a quality instrument to start with.