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Buying vs. Renting Instruments for School Orchestra

If you have a child in primary school, you can typically expect them to begin learning to play music in an ensemble around the 4th, 5th, or 6th grade. Joining the school orchestra is an enriching experience but trying to secure all of the necessary equipment can seem intimidating. The costs generally include the rental of an instrument and accessories, such as a bow, rosin, and a case.

Often the school will have an agreement with a local music shop to help supply instruments, and they may coordinate an event where you can get what your child needs. There is also the option to purchase the equipment, which offers different advantages than renting. Given the choice, should you buy or rent an instrument?

Woman kneeling to help girl with cello technique

Which option is best for you?

Unless you have already placed your child in private music lessons, elementary school may be their first introduction to learning how to play an instrument. It's a great age to start playing an instrument, and music may turn into something they enjoy and are passionate about their entire lives. With this in mind, there are some pros and cons to be aware of regarding buying vs. renting their instrument.

Renting an instrument may be easier, particularly if the school facilitates the process. In addition to going through the school, many quality music shops such as Johnson String Instrument offer the option of easy online instrument rental services. Looking ahead, renting can turn out to be the cost-saving option if your child decides to give up the instrument or wants to try another instrument. It is also helpful if your child is still growing – all rentals at Johnson String Instrument include size and preference exchanges.

A potential disadvantage to renting is that while you build rental credit that can be put toward purchasing an instrument at a later date, you do not own the rental instrument. Some families prefer to own an instrument in order to pass it down or because it makes more sense for them financially.

The benefits of playing in a school orchestra

Regardless of whether you choose buying or renting an instrument for school orchestra, putting the time and effort into acquiring an instrument of excellent quality can pay off tenfold in the future. Music education provides a tremendous number of benefits that go beyond just learning a new skill.

Music builds creativity and teaches discipline because the only way to get better is to practice regularly. Learning to read music engages the same part of the brain that is used when your child is doing math, and playing in an ensemble encourages collaboration with peers.

Learning to read and play music is an important part of your child's development and finding an instrument they enjoy playing will help encourage their love of music. Johnson String Instrument offers a variety of instrument options that range from beginner to master level.

Additional Resources

Carriage House Violins

Located in Newton, Massachusetts, Carriage House Violins is the instrument sales division of Johnson String Instrument.

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Whether searching for a job, learning about the "Mozart Effect," looking for a summer music camp, or choosing the right instrument string, you need look no further.

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Johnson String Project

A charitable foundation whose goal is to provide high-quality instruments to children who live in under-served communities and who are participating in El-Sistema-inspired programs in Massachusetts.

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JSI Blog

Information and helpful articles about the music and instruments we love.

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Helpful "how to" videos and useful information about JSI and the products and services we offer.

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