My daughter is in a grade where the children are allowed to join a band and start playing an instrument. Our town schools have a "rent to own" program where you can rent an instrument until you have paid enough to own it.
My daughter decided on the clarinet, so we rented a clarinet. It seems like every other kid was there renting instruments too. So I was sort of shocked when I saw that the amount I would have to pay to own the clarinet was $720! (Even the flute was $700.)
I have no doubt that a really nice clarinet could probably cost more than $720. But I can't fathom paying that much for an instrument for a child to learn on. There are decent clarinets available on Amazon for $100, which is what we will have paid after only four months.
Is there something I'm missing? Is there a reason to keep renting this instrument when I can buy one much cheaper?
In my opinion, no. My kids attend a private school in the philly burbs and the band instructor told us to rent our daughter a trombone. I was taken aback by the price. I found a student instrument on Amazon which cost about 2.5x a month's rent and sent the link to the instructor and asked him if it was an appropriate instrument. He said it was fine, so we bought it. No big deal.ReplyDelete
Can't say anything about clarinet, but I can say a few words about flute since I studied it in college (numbers will be off and prob higher than clarinet since flutes are made of metal).ReplyDelete
You can buy decent used flutes from reputable brands for $400-500 online, which is what my parents did after renting from the local store for one year. New flutes in that price range or lower are going to be pieces of crap that break easily (and as a careless 4th grader I would've destroyed).
The only reason they started with renting is 1) they didn't know if I would want to play again after a year, and 2) our local rental program fee included free repair. That was worth it when I made a couple deep dents in the nickel body when it fell or hit the stand, or when a key fell off. They can charge an arm and a leg for repairs on non-rental instruments.
The rent-to-own instruments vary widely in quality, but they always jack up the price a ton. The better deals I've seen are the ones that let you accrue store credit for use towards equip or any instrument they sell (esp if you're sure they'll continue)
I should say this was in the mid-90s when monthly rentals were ~$15/month in a smaller city :)Delete
I second buying a used instrument for a higher quality brand, and watch some YouTube videos on how to properly clean it. Get a new mouthpiece ($10-$20 on Amazon). Applies to basically any wind or brass instrument.ReplyDelete
You can also peruse pawn shops. Caveat emptor is in full effect though. The good thing about the clarinet is that while the reeds must be purchased new, if the pads come loose a drop of elmer's glue will reattach them.ReplyDelete
I started learning the clarinet when I was 13, and bought a low-end used clarinet from my instructor for GBP 60 (back in 1993/4). Played it for a few years, took it off to uni with me at first but wasn't good enough to get in the orchestra (as I was up against people that had been learning it since the age of 7/8). I sold it to my mum's friend for her daughter, making my £60 back.ReplyDelete
Recently I decided to pick it up again and saw a clarinet in a charity shop for £60; it had already sold by the time I got back the next day, but I got one on eBay for about the same price and it works well.
Having said that, my extremely musical friend at school bought a wooden clarinet, which definitely sounded better but cost several thousand.
I think for basic practice and to get started I'd go for the cheapest option, as long as it doesn't fall apart you could probably sell it on for the same price to someone the following year and then upgrade your daughter to a better instrument.
After three children that played in the band/orchestra since 4th grade, in most cases, you get what you pay for when it comes to musical instruments. Be thankful that she didn't choose a tenor sax. On a good note though, My local music store also does a rent to own that includes insurance for repairs and maintenance AND when we paid off the instrument we were offered the opportunity to trade it in for a brand new one of the same model or have the value counted towards an upgrade. I would ask if your supplier has similar options.ReplyDelete
Yes, they do have those options. But I still get nervous about her walking around with a $720 instrument.Delete
Talk to someone who teaches clarinet in your town (who knows clarinets better than the band teacher, unless s/he's a clarinetist for real). "Perfectly good" for $88 might not be so; and unless you're pretty knowledgeable about clarinets, you wouldn't have a way of knowing. A local clarinet teacher will know instruments, and may have leads on decent quality used student instruments for sale.ReplyDelete
Are there higher level students (e.g. kids graduating from high school) who might have used clarinets available to purchase?ReplyDelete
I'm going to talk to the music teacher and see what he says. He's probably going to think I'm cheaping out on my daughters musical education.ReplyDelete
Our band director created an entire orchestra with instruments he got dirt cheap on ebay. Just a thought.ReplyDelete
Our experience is that people making money off of instruments will tell you one thing, and music teachers will tell you something completely different. Music stores will tell you that the rental includes insurance to cover damage to the instrument, which is true. It's also true that it's less expensive to just buy a new instrument if you can find a good beginner-intermediate instrument and it's irreparably damaged. We started off with $70 ebay violins because the teacher said that it doesn't matter how good the instrument is, a beginner is not going to sound good. When the kids got to the point that they needed a better quality instrument, the teacher pulled us aside to let us know (not in front of the child, in case it wasn't in our budget). We found top-quality flutes at the a pawn shop, and the pawn shop owner gave us the name of someone who could go over flutes and repair them for us. Rent-to-own isn't a good deal. I've purchased things from both MusicianFriend and Music123 and been very happy with the quality and the service - both of them carry clarinets.ReplyDelete