by Chris Loughran
Ear plugs may be required!
In the fall with back to school comes the ritual of new instrumental music classes. SFUSD starts instrumental music lessons in fourth grade. The lessons are free to students during school hours but they need to provide their own instruments. The district has a few they can rent but not enough for everyone. The big question is do you rent or buy one if your child is going to be taking lessons?
Things to consider when deciding to rent or buy:
You may want to purchase if:
1. your child tends to lose things often.
2. you have a sibling who may want to play the instrument
3. you want your child to practice over the summer
4. you think your child will continue more than one year with the same instrument
You may want to rent if:
1. you don't want to make a commitment
2. you don't have the extra money right now
3. you think your child may change his mind to a new instrument or not last the entire year
When my son started lessons in fourth grade, we decided to purchase his violin. I figured since he can't keep a lunchbox or jacket through the whole year I would really hate to have him lose a rented instrument and end up purchasing it anyway.
I also found comparing several locations that were on a suggested list of locations to purchase/rent violins it was cheaper to purchase. I found some places rented by the quarter, semester, or by the school year. I purchased his violin for about $140 on Union Street and his best friend purchased his in Noe Valley. The store I purchased with also offers a trade-up option as well when he grows to the next length.
You can call any music store and they will usually have instruments for sale. They may also have used ones for sale if you call early before other parents. They can also tell you what size and extra things you may need like reeds, rosin, etc. You can also post a sign at school in case there is someone who had a child taking lessons that no longer uses the instrument. If you are really ahead of the game, ask the graduating families in the spring if they are interested in selling. Students may outgrow their instruments as well (violins).
The good news is my son didn't lose his violin last year and he will become a second year violin in fifth grade. My decision to purchase the instrument worked well as now I don't have to go buy one this year.