Fiddles for Sale or Rent

Advice on Acquiring a Stringed Instrument

It’s tough for even the most well-staffed and lavishly funded school to own and maintain enough stringed instruments for a full orchestra. And so, in most cases, the acquisition of a violin, viola, or cello for school ensemble use is the student’s [or more often the student’s parents’] responsibility. This doesn’t mean, however, that teachers are entirely off the hook; they should be ready to make suggestions if their students need help with this crucial and potentially daunting task. Here are a few to keep in mind:

1. While a brand new instrument may look great and typically includes such benefits as a long-term warranty, service plan, and various other extras, don’t discount buying used.
2. Consider renting before you buy. This is a particularly good choice if you think students (and/or their parents) are feeling cautious about committing to the ensemble.
3. Purchase a used instrument from a departing senior.
4. Weigh price against service
5. Bear in mind that an instrument might sound completely different once you get it home.

This article has been adapted from an article of the same name by Dave Simons. For the complete article, including expanded tips on acquiring stringed instruments, go to page 32 in your November 2008 issue of Teaching Music.

— Nicole Springer, December 18, 2008, © National Association for Music Education.