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Parent s Guide To Band Instruments

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Music Instruments

School Band Instruments – A Parent’s Guide

When a child shows interest in playing a musical instrument, that interest should be nurtured and encouraged. Of course, if you’re a parent who’s not musically knowledgeable, it’s very normal to feel overwhelmed after walking into a music store. But there’s no need to panic – in fact, finding the right entry-level instrument for your child is easier than you think. You just have to know what to look for, and with the help of this guide your musician could be on their way to a lifetime of musical enjoyment.

Table of Contents

  • Rewards and Benefits
  • Where to Start
  • What to Look For
  • Buy or Rent
  • Used or New
  • Your Role Matters

Rewards and Benefits

The fact that you’re reading this guide makes it safe to assume that your child has already hinted that they want to play a musical instrument. That’s great news! On top of being a lot of fun, countless studies have shown that playing an instrument helps a child’s development on many levels. Some of these benefits include:

  • Learning self-discipline
  • Improved motor skills and auditory awareness
  • Increased self-confidence
  • Understanding the value of teamwork
  • Better hand-eye coordination
  • Enhanced math skills

Of course, it can also show a child that taking on challenges one step at a time can naturally lead to a successful accomplishment – musical or otherwise.

Where to Start

Before making any quick decisions, it’s important to make sure the instrument you’re renting or purchasing is a good one – after all, nothing can make a child lose interest in playing music like a shoddy instrument.

Start your search by talking with your school’s music teacher, or someone locally who provides private lessons. More often than not, an experienced player will be quite happy to make recommendations regarding brands and models for a beginner.

Secondly, make a trip to your local music store. Not only will an employee be familiar with what music teachers prefer, they’ll also be able to show you additional accessories like strings or reeds (depending on their instrument of choice).

Last but not least, meet with a professional repair technician. These men or women look over instruments daily, so they have an excellent idea of what brands are the best, and they’ll also know the availability of repair parts. Be sure to contact the repair shop in advance to make sure the offer this type of service.

What to Look for – Quality is Important!

Remember, you’re searching for an instrument that your child can enjoy playing for at least three years, through high school and possibly even college. So, it needs to be of a certain level of quality. By “quality”, we mean that you should look for these four “abilities”:

  1. Playability. It needs to be easy to play, and it should also stay in tune well. While any instrument will be a challenge to play at first, the instrument should never hold them back, and only help them improve with time.
  1. Durability. From rehearsals and concert stages to even outdoor parades, you never know where your child might end up performing. Wherever they go, their instrument needs to be built strong enough to handle any playing application.
  1. Repairability. It’s very normal for a musical instrument to need repairs every now and then. But if it can be repaired locally with commonly-found techniques and parts, you’ll save yourself a lot of time (and headaches).  
  1. Warrant-“ability”. Before buying any instrument, make sure it has a warranty, and get all the details before you make the purchase.

Buying vs Renting

At some point, you’ll have to decide whether to buy or rent your kid’s first instrument. For younger students, renting is highly recommended. After all, a child’s interests can change at the drop of a hat. At least with a rental, you can have the option of exchanging the instrument without any additional cost. Instruments are available for rent from your school or through your local music store.  When you get right down to it, going with a rental allows for more flexibility to figure out what your child really wants to play – and in the end, it’s their happiness that matters most.

Used or New – What’s Right For You?

As previously mentioned, quality is important. If you buy an instrument, you’ll have to decide whether or not to go new or used. Either way, the instrument needs to be easy to play, durable, repairable, and have a warranty.

If you go with a used instrument, you should be careful on used sites; a seller might not be providing all the info you need on the current condition of the instrument. The good news is that most music retailers – in store and online – have their instruments checked over by a repair person. And while most kids will probably ask for a new instrument, used entry-level models can offer excellent value and are often half or even one third the price of a new one.

If you choose to buy a new instrument, remember that not all instruments are suitable for student players. There are hundreds of brands and models to choose from, and some are too advanced for a beginner, or worse, are not good enough to set your student up for success. Your best bet is to ask an experienced player, a school music teacher, or a music-store employee for guidance. 

In the end, just be sure that your instrument has been inspected by a repair technition or music educator before you buy it to ensure it’s properly adjusted and in working condition. That way, your child gets the most out of their musical journey, and you get the most bang for your buck.

Parents’ Involvement Matters

Over anything else, it’s your attitude and support that will lead to your child’s enjoyment and success. Whether you’re giving words of encouragement or simply offering a drive to and from their band rehearsal, your involvement matters.