Renting vs Buying. Beginning the Journey…
So, your child is going to start lessons, and you have no idea where to get them an instrument and if you should rent or buy a violin. You are not the first parents to face this question, and the answers are pretty simple.
At first, the decision always seems to be driven by convenience and price. “How easily can I find a violin for my child, and how cheaply can I get it?” This would be fine if you were shopping for new school supplies like notebooks and paper. Few parents realize that by taking their child’s interest in music seriously, they are potentially changing the course of this young person’s life. Don’t get me wrong; it’s not about, “Will they ever become a great musician?” It’s about validating and respecting the choices this little soul is making about what makes them interested and fulfilled.
Truthfully, it is when students are just beginning that their need for a quality instrument is at its highest. Parents feel they want to invest in a good instrument only after the student has shown aptitude and made progress. And only then would they consider putting some family resources into getting a better violin or viola so that the student can improve. This is exactly the approach that undermines the success and frustrates the desire of the student to practice and improve.
So, what’s the answer? Rent or Buy?
The good news is that you don’t have to know anything. Generally, the teacher will know where to find a shop that takes beginning students seriously. Building this trust base by showing you believe in the student to ask the teacher about their needs is the most critical part.
Now, should you rent or buy a violin, viola, or cello? Usually, people do start by renting from a reputable shop. Knowing that this will likely be the same shop, you will buy from later means you should check with your teacher first before even renting from them.
Most shops offer some kind of rental-credit-towards-purchase. Be sure you are not obligated to buy the same instrument you’re renting as the student will probably outgrow it quickly.
We recommend purchasing an instrument after it’s clear the student is inspired to play and wants to keep at it. The difference in quality will make them want to play more, and you are showing that you believe in them.
At Potter’s, we assume a long-term commitment to music on the part of our customers. Our instrument rental program allows you to build equity while using one of our quality instruments. This way, when the student is very little and apt to change sizes in a year or less, you can use the rental program until they slow down in their growth rate – usually at 1/8 or 1/4 size.
The rental credit can then be used to purchase a “Step Up” quality instrument. You are then free to participate in our trade-up program, increasing in size and quality as the student progresses. Your teacher should guide you in choosing the appropriate instrument as they progress. Potter Violins guarantees 100% of the original purchase price as a trade-in credit on any instrument purchased from us.
If your student is starting at a larger size, we recommend going to the better quality right away and bypassing the rental programs altogether. This is because older students learn more quickly and will outgrow rental quality instruments almost immediately, so there is no point in ever using one. Occasionally, parents are unsure as to whether the student will continue the past a few weeks. My suggestion is, in this case, that renting for six months will allow enough time to know if there is ongoing interest and still preserves your expenses as a 100% purchase credit. Either way, be sure to have your teacher review your outfit to ensure that it satisfies their expectations.