Parent's Guide to Buying a Band Instrument

There comes a time for every band parent when they will have to decide whether or not to buy their child an instrument. There may have some questions like “What should I buy?” or “Where should I go to buy an instrument?” Letting go of money can be hard nowadays, so we’ve put together some tips on how to get the biggest bang for your buck this season and beyond!

  1. FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU’RE PAYING FOR
    Talk to a band director or music teacher about the best brand of instrument to get. They may recommend certain brands based on quality, the child’s playing style, budget and use. This information will be a good starting point for further research.
  2. TALK TO PEOPLE YOU KNOW
    Ask other band parents what they’ve bought and what they recommend. See if you can buy or borrow any old instruments they may have. Talk to local music directors and musicians to see if anyone can lend, sell or give you a spare instrument that might just need a quick fix to be in working condition.
  3. CONSIDER NEW VS USED
    Used instruments will be cheaper, but can be risky. It doesn’t take much experience to know if an instrument is obviously dirty or broken. If certain keys or valves are bent or not working, or if an instrument is really dirty and has stuff on it everywhere, these are things to think about and include in your overall budget.
  4. TEST IT OUT
    Bring your child along with you when looking at instruments. They can let you know how they feel or if they think anything is wrong with the product. If you’re unsure about the instrument quality, take pictures of it and show it to someone at your local music store to see what the repair costs might come out to.
  5. LET THEM KNOW ABOUT RESPONSIBILITY
    Buying an instrument for a child means they have to take care of it. Make sure your child is ready for the commitment of cleaning and putting away their instrument daily.
  6. MARCHING QUALITY
    If you are buying both a concert instrument and a marching band instrument, you might want to think about getting an inexpensive marching instrument. These instruments have to go through rain, wind, and potential collisions or drops. Talk to your band director, who will know what to recommend. For example, maybe a plastic instrument instead of a wood instrument.
  7. REMEMBER IT’S ABOUT THE FUTURE
    Most parents will feel more comfortable about their children’s musical growth after seeing their kid stick with it for a couple of years. It also helps to encourage your child to participate in music ensembles or a band as well as organized musical activities during high school and college. For example, there are community bands or church choirs. This ensures not only the lifelong value of your investment, but also helps your child throughout their entire life.

Remember, the musician makes the instrument, not the other way around. Though you can always splurge on quality, if your child is a beginner, there may not be a need to worry about getting a professional grade instrument just yet. Just remember to define your budget in a way that fits your child’s needs.

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