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How to find the right musical instrument for your child

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As a music teacher I'm quite often appalled by the quality of the instruments that my beginner students bring to the first lesson. Shoddy workmanship, brittle materials, and cheap finishing are all too common. How is your child going to learn anything on that piece of junk? This 'How To' will help you to think carefully about your instrument buying decision, so that you will end up with something that your child can learn on for the first couple of years at least of their music playing career. I specialize in woodwind instruments, but the principles will be the same for all instrument families.
What you'll need: 
A child who is keen to learn music
Access to a local music retailer or a computer for online ordering
Not essential but a relevant teacher or knowledgeable friend may give extra guidance
Cash to hire or buy
Once you've agreed with your child what instrument they are going to play, it's time to think about the make and model you need. Instruments should be robust and reliable enough to resist the bashes and knocks they will get. For this reason, the cheapest option is not always the best.
Yamaha have been instrument makers for many years. I have found that their products have passed the sturdiness and reliability tests over time. But this does make them more expensive.
Yamaha make all imaginable orchestral instruments, but consider other brands for your child. There is Stentor for strings, Vincent Bach (owned by Conn-Selmer) for brass, and among others, Buffet Crampon serving the woodwind family. These are all reliable brands, but are only examples – other good brands may be available.
Stick with the well known, more reliable brands. Avoid cheap, unknown brands that sometimes turn up at retail outlets, or on the Internet. If you are buying on-line make sure you trust the seller, and see if you can try the instrument first, (with the help of your teacher or knowledgeable friend)
Otherwise, visit local music shops and see if they have a hire or 'try before you buy' scheme. If your child is to learn at school the education authority might offer instrument hire at reduced rates.
If your instrument is on a hire or trial basis, your child can take it to their first lesson where the teacher can test it out thoroughly. Hopefully you will have done your homework properly and the teacher will recommend you keep it!
A poorly made or badly conditioned instrument can be a frustrating experience for a young beginner. By following this 'How to' you will avoid the pitfalls that many parents or carers make, and provide your child with an instrument that will last them for years to come.
Notice boards in supermarkets, schools and libraries can be a good source of information on instruments for sale.
Remember that the instrument you eventually get will need careful looking after, and if it has mechanical parts it will need regular servicing.


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