Stop buying your children low cost crappy instruments!

It’s the holiday time and you’re faced with the age-old question of what to buy young Johnny or young Jane. They’ve been asking for a myriad of gifts but the one that stands out to you the most, is a musical instrument. At first you cringe at the idea of the “squeaking” sounds coming from the family living room, but as you digest the idea you realize, music is a sound and fine way to spend some holiday cash on your child.  You’ve determined it’s a good idea but now you’re left with the… “What do I buy for a good price”? question.

The answer isn’t complicated and its fairly common sense.

You get what you pay for.

My first example; when my step son decided he wanted to learn the Violin I was excited until I saw that entry level violins started around $3-500 dollars. Talk about breaking the bank! I decided, as any normal parent would, that he should get something less pricey because “He may not stick with it”. That’s always the excuses to spend less, right? Well, little did I know that my $100 purchase of a cool looking purple violin would be completely unsatisfactory to his instructor and it was so poorly made that pressing the strings down was a difficult process and I'm an adult with years of playing experience. Not only did I waste $100, I had to go to a rental facility and pay $90 every three months to rent a suitable violin. I still own that purple violin and it’s currently collecting dust.

My second example.

As a teacher I get the question rather frequently, “My child wishes to play the guitar, what should I buy him/her”? Traditionally I suggest a fender squire, ether ¾ size or full size depending on the age and size of the student. Also, along with the guitar I suggest the full package deal that offers the strap, cable, picks, and small practice amp. This all goes for roughly $200ish at your local music store or online. I cannot tell you how many families have gone the other direction and purchased something by “Fist act” or some other beginner off brand, and when I sit with the student and wonder why they can’t push down the strings I just have to look at the head stock to know, that my advice was ignored and now the student is learning with a deficient instrument.

Here’s the deal, spend $2-300 on your students first guitar, or rent a proper classical instrument from a shop, if it’s piano, get a simple half size Casio from Costco as any piano/keyboard is fine at entry level as long as it plays. That extra $100 really means a lot in craftsmanship and pliability. And it’s our job as parents and educators to offer our students a chance to learn on an instrument that will offer satisfaction more than frustration. Years down the road you will never hear the words “I wish I had never”, from a former student mouth in regard to music apprenticeship, but you will always hear “I wish I had”.