Although is might seem almost any trumpet would be OK for a beginner, having a trumpet that works properly is actually critical. A beginning trumpeter struggles to make the first sounds and find the initial notes. A beginner who can't make the correct sounds while others do is quickly discouraged. The first few months are the most difficult and are critical for a young musician. Band directors can often predict which students will drop out of band by looking at the quality and condition of the instruments they begin on.
A beginner doesn't need the best trumpet, but s/he does need a trumpet that plays easily (doesn't require too much air), has an appropriate sized mouthpiece, has working valves and slides, plays in tune with the other instruments, and can be repaired and adjusted when it needs it (...and it will).
Appropriate beginner trumpets are available from many sources:
- Buying outright. If you're sure your child will like playing music and will want to stay with the trumpet, buying one outright might make sense. However trumpets that are appropriate for band aren't inexpensive, and once a trumpeter passes the beginner stage he/she is likely to need an intermediate or performer trumpet.
- Renting. Renting gives the child (and parents) time to see how s/he likes playing
music, consider whether trumpet is the correct instrument, and consider
what type of trumpet is right for the longer term. The band director knows and usually advises beginners' parents where they can rent the right kind of instruments, considering not just the cost of rental and quality of the instruments, but also the condition they are kept in and the support the company provides to keep the instruments playing properly. Rent paid is usually applicable to the later purchase of an instrument. Renting is the most popular way to start a student in music.
- Buy (or borrow) a used one. When a good used trumpet can be gotten at a low enough price, it might make sense to take a chance on the student and buy it. But check first with the band director to assure the trumpet you're considering is the appropriate quality and will play in tune with the band. Then take it to an instrument repair shop to see what it will take to put it in playing condition. (If it's been sitting up for a year or more, it will almost surely need the valves and slides pulled and thoroughly cleaned.)
- Internet. Although the Internet is considered a dangerous place to buy a musical instrument, someone who knows what they're doing and is careful can sometimes find a bargain. By some estimates 90-95% of the trumpets sold on the Internet are not of appropriate quality for school band use (despite advertising to the contrary) or won't play in tune with the rest of the instruments. However appropriate trumpets can occasionally be found on eBay and other Internet sites, sometimes at good prices. Once again, be sure it is a trumpet that is appropriate for band, and either check its condition carefully or anticipate repair costs as part of your purchase math.