|Buying an instrument
||[Dec. 9th, 2009|12:11 pm]
Anyone who teaches private woodwind lessons has some horror stories of students arriving at their lessons with new, or new to them, instruments. From the old and decrepit, to the shiny yet cheap imports that disintegrate within weeks, to the well known brands and models that we generally steer people away from for various reasons, we all wish that parents and students would enlist our help in selecting an appropriate instrument.
I've arranged the following points as a guide for beginning students.
1. When first starting out, do not buy an instrument right away. Call the private teacher you plan to use and get their recommendations.
2. Ideally, I would like my own students to borrow or rent before they buy, especially if they are working within a budget. This gives time to decide if the student likes the instrument enough to invest in one, as well as time to find a good deal on a good instrument and save up some money.
3. Whether buying, borrowing, or renting, have your private teacher test the instrument to make sure that it is working. Teachers are happy to meet you at a music store to test instruments and help you choose one. That way you don't get stuck in a rental or purchase contract with an instrument that isn't right for the student.
4. Avoid renting double reed instruments, except from double reed specialty shops, or in cases where your teacher approves the instrument to be rented. The problem is that oboe and bassoon rentals generally cost more than flutes and clarinets, and the rental instruments can be of poor quality or poorly maintained and difficult to play, only because relatively few people have any idea what a good double reed instrument is or how it's supposed to work.
4a. Explore borrowing options thoroughly with double reeds or in cases of budget restrictions and save up for an instrument. If the student goes to a school with a music program, find out if a school-owned instrument is available. A private teacher may even have a used instrument lying around that they are willing to lend or rent to their own students.
5. Avoid buying from Internet warehouse music stores, online auctions, or classified ads, except under the advice of your teacher. Always try before you buy, or even better, have your teacher test any potential instrument.
6. When researching brands, take Internet advice with a grain of salt. The best advice will come from your live-action private teacher.
7. Don't be shy about discussing any concerns or questions that you have. Think of a private teacher like a doctor or other specialist. There's nothing that they haven't seen or heard before.
Comments are open for other tips, questions, horror stories, and discussion!