Music Teacher's Helper Blog

Helping Parents Find Affordable Instruments

This is an article by guest author Amanda Tradwick

Often, the cost of a new instrument can be prohibitive for some parents
whose children want to start learning how to play an instrument.
However, there are many options for finding affordable instruments to make
it possible for any family budget to accommodate these musical aspirations.
As a music teacher, you can help parents understand these options. Here are
some ideas:

Some music stores offer rental programs for their instruments, which
some parents might find more financially accessible. Rentals are also
a good option for parents who aren’t sure that their children are
serious about their musical studies. They can rent the instrument while their child
determines if it’s the right instrument to study. The student may lose
interest or could decide that another instrument is more appealing.
Parents should be sure to choose a reputable store and should limit
the overall length of time of the rental. Prolonged renting will make
the instrument cost more than purchasing it.

Used Instruments
Many quality used instruments are available through a number of
sources, including music stores, pawn shops, online vendors, and
personal sales. Parents should be counseled to choose a reputable
source, such as a known local music store. Online vendors and personal
sales don’t offer the assurance of a warranty or a return policy.
Parents should also be counseled on how to evaluate the quality of a
used instrument, including how to look for defects such as worn pads
or loose hinges and how to recognize quality brands.

Many reputable music stores have a financing arrangement available to
help parents more easily afford the cost of a new instrument. Personal
credit will determine what kind of financing is available and what the
interest rates will be. Get to know the options in your area so that
you can make an appropriate recommendation for parents based on the
reputation of the store and the customer service that they offer.

If you are so inclined, you can create a sharing or borrowing program
for your clients to make study more accessible for them. You can
coordinate a program among the parents in which a community fund is
used to buy an instrument that is shared between two or more students,
depending on residential location and practice needs. Or, if you feel
comfortable, you can create a kind of “library” of instruments in
which students can borrow an instrument for a pre-determined amount of
time. The instrument would have to be returned at the end of that time
in the same condition in which it was given. Such an arrangement could
provide students with instruments until their parents are able to save
the funds to buy one for them.

Free Programs
There are online Freecycle groups that offer free items that are no
longer being used to members of the local community. Big-ticket items
such as instruments are not commonly given away through these sites,
but there are occasional exceptions. Members can also share “wanted”
posts and can request an instrument that they need. Parents can take a
chance on these groups, knowing that the possibility of finding what
they need isn’t a sure thing, but that they could just get lucky.
Buying a new instrument can be cost prohibitive to musical study for
many families. Helping families understand options for finding
quality, affordable instruments can help them overcome this obstacle
and become new clients.

About the Author:
Amanda Tradwick is a grant researcher and writer for She has a Bachelor’s degrees from the University of
Delaware, and has recently finished research on grant for college and scholarships and grants for college.

About the Author


  1. Bernie Holden might be worth a look

  2. Ed Pearlman

    I usually recommend to beginners that they rent at first, at least for a few months, after which they will be able to play enough to select an instrument that they like. It’s only $15-20 per month to rent.

    Caution: some places only rent by the year, which might be too much.

    Another caution: some places sell students on the fact that their rental money goes towards buying the instrument. Sometimes this is a nice service, but I always tell students to figure out the difference between what they spent in rent and what the cost of the instrument is, and to compare that with the cost of buying an instrument. Often it’s cheaper to buy another instrument than to feel committed to the rental instrument just because they’ve put some money into it.

    Some students come in having bought an instrument, sometimes on eBay, and we just have to deal with it. Often these instruments are of poor quality and require extra investment to bring them up to a more playable condition.

  3. John

    That’s interesting, I was looking for free teaching resources for my kids. Thanks for sharing this post.

  4. […] own. So what’s the best way to keep costs down? Check out these great tips on finding an affordable band instrument from the Music Teacher’s Helper […]

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