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How to Select the Right Instrument

Deciding to rent or buy your instrument is just one step in the process.  Once you've decided the best option for you, there are a few more items you don't want to overlook:

  • Budget - If you've decided to rent or finance, how much can you afford each month?
  • Purchasing Options - Where will you look for an instrument?  If you're knowledgeable about musical instruments, sometimes you can find a good deal on a high quality instrument at a pawn shop, the Internet, or from an individual.  But if you're not, be careful not to be fooled by a low price tag into purchasing an unsuitable instrument.
  • Risk - How much risk are you willing to take?  If you need help or service down the road, where will you take your instrument.  Also, what options do you have with your purchase to cover possible service needs later?

Once you're comfortable answering the questions above, it's time to go

 minions shopping animated.

Tips for Selecting the Perfect Beginner Instrument

  • Ask your child's teacher for recommendations of brands and reputable sources for a musical instrument.  Even if school hasn't started yet, the teacher will probably be more than happy to make recommendations over the summer to ensure their future student gets a quality instrument rather than a dud.  Contact the school and explain why you need to speak to the teacher.
  • Wait to buy - but not too long.  We strongly believe renting first is the best option for beginners, particularly for string and band instruments.  As students grow, they may soon need a slightly larger instrument or one with a bigger bore (diameter of the tubing) to allow for more air flow and better tone.  Once you are satisfied with your child's commitment to music lessons and they're capable of playing a full-size instrument, your rental payments can be applied toward the purchase of a step-up instrument.  The beginner instrument takes the initial wear and tear of learning to hold and handle the instrument.
  • "Cheap" can become expensive - There are many "instrument-shaped objects" (ISO's) being sold online for 10% (or less) the cost of a high quality beginner instrument.  Unfortunately, many parents find out that these instruments don't even last long enough to determine if their child will be successful in music and merit a more expensive instrument.  These ISO's often can't even be repaired due to their inferior materials and unique part shapes and sizes.  If you see the slogan, "Music Teacher Approved," make sure YOUR music teacher approves first.
  • Take your child shopping with you.  It's a good idea to make sure s/he can hold the weight of the instrument and that you find the right size.  Also, renting or buying an instrument for your child represents an investment in him/her.  Make him/her part of this process and turn it into a teachable moment for the child about his/her responsibility.

Tips for Selecting the Perfect Step-Up Instrument

  • Get your current instrument repaired to perfect playing condition first.  Why?
  • Improve re-sale value if you choose to totally replace it.  
  • Also, this allows you to assess its actual abilities and make a truer comparison of the new instrument's potential.  
  • Finally, with your old instrument in top condition, you can afford to take your time selecting the new instrument, allowing you to make the best possible decision.
  • Play multiple models and brands within your comfortable price range.  If several identical instruments are available, play each of them.  Each instrument has its own personality and no two are alike.
  • Bring someone who plays better than you to play the instruments also.  Yes, really.  Your private teacher or band/orchestra director, if possible.  Stand back and listen to him/her play loudly, softly, and through the full range of the instrument.  A more advanced player, especially one who knows your abilities, strengths, and weaknesses, can more quickly sense whether the instrument is suitable for you or if it is not of a high enough quality to respond to you adequately.


Above All Else, Get it Approved by Your Teacher

Regardless of whether you're shopping a local music store, online, or individuals for a new or used beginner or step-up instrument, you'll want to make sure that the instrument is approved by your private instructor or your band/orchestra director.  The best option when you've found an instrument you believe is acceptable is to agree to buy it, conditionally on the teacher approving the instrument as suitable.  If you can actually show the instrument to the teacher, that is the best option.  If not, take lots of pictures from different angles, and don't leave the store or individual without having written down the model number and serial number to give to your teacher.


Amro Music has the Mid-South's largest inventory of band and orchestra instruments.

Click here for more information about band instruments.

Click here for more information about orchestra instruments.

Posted by Ben Fonville at 6:00 AM
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