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Any music teachers out there? Advice needed, please.

(12 Posts)
MrsMuddle Thu 18-May-06 21:07:27

I'm looking for some advice re school music lessons. About 2 months ago, all the children got the opportunity to audition for flute or clarinet lessons at school. This is just a bog standard local primary school, and the auditions were open to eveyone. DS (9)is a really keen enthusiastic boy, but takes after me musically (ie a bit tone deaf). He had set his heart on it, but didn't get chosen. DS (11) is very laid back, but is quite musical, and he did get picked. When we got the letter saying he had been picked, they told us the cost for lessons - £100 per year, plus I have to get hold of a clarinet. 4 children got picked, and the two instruments the local authority have for lending went to the children who qualify for free lessons, which is fair enough. But this is my problem. DS(11) also has piano lessons at £9 a week, and DS (9) is so desperate for music lessons, I've put his name down too. So that's £18 a week on top of the £100 per year for clarinet lessons, but I can't do it for one and not the other. DH and I both work, but every last penny has gone by the end of the month, so money is an issue. I've decided to go ahead with the clarinet, because I do think it's an excellent opportunity. The info from the local authority about lessons warned against buying a "cheap" clarinet from China. They offered us some to buy VAT free, starting at £200! . I can hire one at £15 a month, or I can buy one on ebay, brand new from a shop in Edinburgh for £80. It has been made in China, but I spoke to the seller and he says he's had no problems with them. He also offers a one-year guarantee. Would you go ahead and buy the cheap one, even though I've been specifically warned against it? Will the sound be different from an expensive one? Advice, please. TIA

SueW Thu 18-May-06 21:38:13

I am sure you can rent more cheaply than that.

This is the place I was thinking of.

frogs Thu 18-May-06 21:45:44

We had similar issues when dd1 started flute. Cheap ones can be okay, but you could end up spending £80 and then still need to buy another one if it turns out to be no good. Bear in mind the LEA will be able to negotiate bulk discounts, and VAT rebates. I don't know what the going rate is for clarinets, but actually £200 sounds not unreasonable.

If you want to cut costs below that, and I can see why you would if you're not sure they'll stick with it, then do as much research as you can. Phone the people who run your local Saturday music school and ask what makes and models of clarinet they recommend for beginners. Go to a couple of music shops and let them talk you through the various types. They may also have small ads on a board from people wanting to sell their instruments, or even sell second hand models themselves. Contact some specialist dealers like this and ask what they recommend for beginners. Google 'beginner's clarinet' and see what fetches up. After a bit of this you get a feel for which brands are generally recommended as good quality beginners' models. Getting a second-hand instrument from a reputable, ideally specialist, shop is likely to be a better option than buying a brand new cheapy off ebay, IMO, specially if you don't have much specialist knowledge. That's what we ended up doing -- we paid £295 for a second hand but hardly-used flute, as opposed to £400 for the same model (Yamaha) new.


MrsMuddle Thu 18-May-06 21:51:19

Thanks, you two. That's a great help. At least I have somewhere to start now. I'll do what you suggest.

bev1e Thu 18-May-06 21:58:08

I'd steer clear of buying cheap because in the long run it can work out more expensive.

We had a similar experience to frogs buying a cheap flute for £100, having it "serviced" at £40 to find 3 months of playing it had rendered it useless and beyond saving!

We bought a new one which was so much easier to play and had a completely different sound.

I'd go back to whoever is organisng the lessons and seek their advice.

brimfull Thu 18-May-06 22:14:50

£200 is cheap we paid nearly £400 for dd's flute,mind you it's still going 6 yrs later so worth it in the end.
Try secondhand good makes.

figroll Fri 19-May-06 17:13:39

I play the clarinet and I would recommend Hanson - if you do a google they come up. I am not related by the way, but I think their claris are very good for a cheap clarinet - English too, not Chinese. Don't buy off ebay unless you know what you are doing. £100 for lessons is good - so long as they are of good quality and for a decent length of time.

Well done for getting the opportunity - definitely to be encouraged.

MrsMuddle Sat 20-May-06 19:40:11

Thanks everyone. You've all persuaded me to bite the bullet and get a decent one, second-hand if possible. I did suspect buying a cheap one would be a mistake, and you've confirmed it. Here's hoping DS learns quickly, and can start busking when he's 12 to recoup the cost!

SSSandy Mon 22-May-06 17:59:12

I had the same experience as frogs and bev with flutes. I'd ask the teacher for advice about buying a second-hand instrument. S/he may have ex-pupils who'd like to sell theirs. I'd also ask the teacher to vet an instrument before you buy it. Ours are happy to do that, in fact they prefer it that way round.

hellywobs Tue 23-May-06 15:57:17

God £200 sounds ever so cheap. When I was 10 (in 1982) I was bought a 2nd hand clarinet for £80 - the new ones were selling for around £300. When you think about inflation it's an amazing price. I would be inclined to try to go for the more expensive one or rent.

melrose Tue 23-May-06 16:03:29

Bear in mind that if you buy a decent second hand one and your DS decides against the clarinet you are more likely to recoup your money selling it again, rather than re-selling a cheap new one, does that make sense?

MrsMuddle Tue 23-May-06 17:05:16

Bought one today second-hand for the bargain price of £60!! I had a long talk with the seller, who bought it to learn on 10 years ago at secondary school. She gave it up, and has now started playing again. She got it serviced 6 months ago, and has been playing it ever since, but has now decided to get a better one. I really, really liked the Hanson ones and the ethos of the company - figroll recommended them - so if my DS is really keen in a couple of years still, I'll sell the second-hand one and get one of those. I'm sure I'll be able to sell it for £60 again in a couple of years. Thanks for all your help and advice.

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