1/10 Cello(16 Posts)
I hope someone out there will be able to help me.
My DS (just turned 4) first showed a strong desire to play the cello at just 18 months old & went on & on about it for the next 2 years, at which point we were very lucky in him being offered a kind of informal scholarship to attend lessons & have a long term loan of an instrument at a local Childrens' Centre.
This arrangement continued for about 6 months & he's been absolutely loving it & practicing at home regularly, but unfortunately we've just been (very abruptly) informed that the Centre can no longer fund this due to budget cuts & the cello must be returned this coming weekend when the new term begins.
My DS is distraught & so are his teachers (both affiliated to the Guildhall School Of Music), who have said they will gladly offer him weekly individual & group tuition sessions for free if we can source an instrument.
I am currently on Income Support which does not allow me to pay out £30/month approx. to hire one & the cheapest new ones to buy are around £300 from what I can see (the one he has was £515!).
He is currently playing a 1/10th size. I've trawled the internet looking for 2nd hand ones but it seems that this particular size does not come up for sale as often as the larger ones.
Just wanted to find out if anyone has had a similar experience or has any advice about how I could go about solving the problem. It's so upsetting to see him take to something so enthusiastically & practice all summer long only to be told he cannot carry on.
I have looked at various charities but it seems there is little or nothing in the way of funding for under 5s music tuition or instrument purchase, which is frustrating since in my opinion this is the optimal time for him to really gain a solid musical foundation before the demands of Primary School.
DS recently had his birthday & as he really does have all the toys he needs we asked people to contribute cash to his cello fund instead of buying gifts & so far he has saved up £80.
Any input you can offer would be gratefully received...
Is the centre LEA funded?
Whether it is or not, contact the music advisory service of your LEA and ask for help.
What are they going to do with the cello when you return it? Burn it? Store it? Sell it?
Maybe you can ask to buy it.
But I'm hazarding a guess that this size of cello is a rarity and it has been earmarked for someone else.......
However, you're going to have the same problem every time he outgrows one unless you can latch onto a scheme whereby young string players can be lent an instrument until ready for a full-sized one.
My DD and friends have all benefitted from such a scheme with 'county' violins and cellos. DD was 15 when she got her own 'ladies' cello which is just right for her. Before then sometimes she outgrew one in 6 months and sometimes one lasted 18 months but a loan cello was available until either the player reached grade 5 or grew enough to need a full-sized instument. (These loan instruments have a hard life and always need a service.)
It would be a tragedy for young players if this stopped. And if every county is scrapping cellos then the market is going to be flooded with them!
You could try the ABRSM parents' forum. It's a mine of information.
But talk to your county's Music Advisor toute suite.
I'm really upset for your little boy and have been thinking about your problem.
Firstly, try not to be forced to buy one if you can help it. This is because you will have to keep doing it as he grows with all the hassle that entails. I couldn't have afforded to keep buying cellos for DD at every growing stage and I certainly would have doubted my competence to choose the right ones anyway. Choosing her ultimate one was enough of a nightmare! Save your money for that one.
Secondly, he's sort of falling between a crack in the pavement at the moment because he hasn't started school. Assuming his future school offers peripatetic music lessons, he will be able to use 'county' loan cellos of the right size. These will be perfectly adequate for a few years but it may be that he reaches a high standard long before he's big enough for a full-sized cello. This happened to a young player we know and she, by then, was well known enough to attract a benefactor who provided her with a superb cello which she was able to use in her early teens.
But that doesn't help you with your immediate problem, hence the need for you to make contact with the Music Advisory Service and find out what options you have now and in the future.
He's obviously going to be a fine cellist and you have years and years of pleasure, pride and occasional panic ahead of you so establishing channels to local teachers, local Music Centre, orchestras and sellers/repairers is necessary anyway.
As I said, the ABRSM forum is extremely useful. There will be someone there who has had the same problem, possibly even someone in your area.
Knock yourself out with this for light relief - and try not to think about the cost of re-hairing a bow.
DD has devoted serious time to plonking her cello case down in front of either one of these boys.
Hi Unitarian, thank you so, so much for your thoughtful & informative posts, I really appreciate it. I wasn't sure if anyone would respond but if you don't ask you never know...
The situation is a little more complicated than I explained in the OP so let me clarify a few things:
- the centre is/was a SureStart funded one but the cello classes are not part of the regular weekday programme (it's like a specialist Saturday school which is based in the building but run by outside staff, i.e. the musicians)
- it's located in another (inner London) borough to the one we live in, even though we're only a few streets away from it
- he has been going there since he was literally a baby (to Makaton sign/sing & other music/stay & play sessions) but due to recent budget cuts the council which controls it has decided that the centre & activities run there are now only to be accessed by residents of the borough which excludes us, hence the abrupt end to the informal scholarship (they hadn't even told the teachers: when I received a text from one of them saying how much was looking forward to seeing both of us after the holidays & I replied that we weren't allowed to come anymore she was in total shock!)
- the centre used to rent the cellos from a company & then charge a fee to students for hire & lessons combined but a couple of years ago they apparently bought a small stock of 1/10th & 1/8th size instruments outright so they could recoup the purchase cost through hire fees & still have the cellos as assets
- it is under considerable financial pressure & as a result will need to use the cello to make money (by signing up another full fee-paying student)
- prior to the arrangement being made to loan DS the cello I made all sorts of enquiries to see if I could get hold of one for him, including contacting our own borough's music service but they do not have one so small & now the council has drastically slashed the music provision here too so unfortunately that's not going to help
- there are music programmes still running in our borough for youngsters but not sure exactly how the cuts have affected provision, will have to make some enquiries, but I know for sure they don't do cello lessons at the school I want him to go to
From what you've said about sizing & outgrowing I'm now thinking it might still be a good idea to try & raise the money to buy a decent student cello in 1/10th size in the hope that by the time it becomes too small for him he'll be over 5 & able to benefit from the many different schemes which exist to borrow or hire instruments at reduced cost (& then I'll have a few years breathing space to start saving for the BIG one!). How does that sound to you?
I'm reading & replying to this at 3am so will not go onto the forum you mention now but thank you from the heart for all the advice & the links, I will definitely check it out.
If you have time, please comment on the above.
I will let you know how I get on anyway...
PS Loved the clip, I will show it to DS in the morning! : )
His main teacher told me that she is more than happy to continue teaching him for free if we can get hold of a cello but the longer we leave it the more likely the centre organiser will say no to him sitting in on lessons.
A good friend/neighbour knows a reporter for a local paper & after a brief conversation got her to run a story on him which was published today asking for donations to the 'cello fund' so it may be that we get a little closer to the target to buy one by fundraising one way or the other (sponsored silence comes to mind lol)...
Watch this space, I'm not giving up on it!
I thought it couldn't be a Music Centre. We have one in our area which runs orchestras and you should definitely seek out your local one when he's old enough. They are run by parents under the umbrella of the LEA and are a fantastic amenity.
Well done for contacting the newspaper. In a well populated place like london this should get a good response and maybe flush out a cello.
If you do buy a small one it should hold its value because of its rarity so you probably won't lose out when you come to sell it.
There's no cheap way to bring on a musical child, I'm afraid, and if he's as talented as he seems then school lessons - even if you can get them - are unlikely to be enough for him. You actually get better value for money, and better feedback with a private teacher. There are some grants and scholarships out there and when he's coming up to 8 you should have a look at this
Sorry, my links don't seem to work. DD joined the equivalent in Manchester. It is amazing and there will be a scholarship scheme.
We looked after our 1/10th violin and recently sold it for almost the same as we paid for it. I have very luckily found a lovely 1/2 size to move up to - we've skipped a few sizes and started playing more seriously now.
BTW the 'county' instruments DD used were made by Stentor. I believe they are Chinese and we were quoted £250 to buy a full sized one via the county's bulk-buying scheme five years ago. As it happened DD had been left some money by great aunt so she opted to buy the beautiful 7/8 she has now and will probably cherish all her life. I've just had to insure it separately now she's living away from home at uni in London.
This is important ......... There is a VAT free scheme when buying instruments for children. To access this you need to do it through the LEA Music Advisory Service which will provide you with a form to fill in, then you get an invoice from the shop/dealer and submit it with the form. Once you have the go-ahead then you pay the seller only the net amount and own the instrument. It does mean there's a bit of a delay but it's worth it when buying an expensive instrument, especially now VAT is 20%. Don't forget to include the bow and case in the claim.
Finally! When you are looking for a teacher try to find one which is 'accredited' by the LEA. He or she might be a peripatetic teacher who is also offering private lessons. By choosing an accredited one you can tap into the loan scheme. Don't be afraid to lean hard on the Advisory Service.
Have you tried your nearest string instrument shop, as mine will sell you the size you need and then let you trade it back to them when you size up.
Junior string instruments are about half the price in the US. A full starter pack for £129 plus what ever they charge for shipping.
Big and fragile, a cello is not the first thing you think of to have sent over, but if you have friends travelling over, or contact a sympathetic music shop who will be willing to wrap it up extra well, it might be a place to start.
I would go to all the local music schools, the music colleges with junior academies and any schools with good music (private schools). Put up signs. Also ask every music teacher you can find.
Someone will have a cello to sell or lend. If you borrow an instrument, you should offer to have the instrument seen by a violin shop and fixed up before you return it.
1/10 cellos do not come up for hire or on eBay that often unfortunately. He may well be ready for a 1/8 cello in a year or so and you will find these much easier to find. I bought one on ebay for about £170. If you look after the instrument carefully, you will be able to sell it for more or less the price you paid for it.
There is also an option to spread the cost of buying an instrument through the 'Take it Away' purchase scheme:
I'm not too sure which music scheme you are part of, but have you checked out these ones, they offer low cost lessons from about £4 per session and may have instruments to hire:
Pembroke House, SE17
Or there are many good Suzuki cello groups in London but these won't be particularly cheap. There is the Little Venice Suzuki group:
We are part of The London Suzuki Group. They run residential courses over Summer for 3 - 18 year olds that are worth looking into.
Thanks everyone for all your comments! I've had a lot going on lately & have been (voluntarily!) offline for quite a while & only just read the additional posts since my last one above.
To update you, the newspaper story was extremely successful: in fact 1 person donated a staggering £500, with a number of others pledging smaller amounts. We managed to buy a Stentor 1/10th model from a reputable music store in London for about £350 all-in & they have been really great, especially the manager.
DS continues to enjoy his lessons, practices regularly & has made quite astonishing progress since he had an instrument of his very own (I think the insecurity of the centre just taking his loan cello away with no notice shook him up & really upset him so it's nice to know everything is sorted for now & there is money in the bank for when we need to upgrade).
The centre organiser was initially asking that I pay the standard £25 per week for the lessons but since the teachers weren't charging for his individual tuition we've managed to negotiate it down to an £8 'token payment' per group session which is a little more manageable, although I still have to budget as they want it in a lump sum each term & don't want to eat into his savings in case he has a sudden growth spurt, which more than one of you has warned me about!
He also started going to monthly 'chamber music for children' concerts at the suggestion of the main benefactor (whose husband is patron of the charity that runs them - it's called Cavatina in case any of you are interested). It's been wonderful to go there with him & I've learned so much about classical music & composers myself which I would never otherwise have known! The hosts have even approached me to say how lovely it is to see such a young child so passionate & engrossed in the music.
So the old adage "where there's a will there's a way" certainly rings true in this case. I'm so glad I didn't give up & your words of encouragement were so helpful. I will be back at work once DS starts school so hopefully it will be less of a challenge to keep up with things like this but for now we're both just enjoying his musical journey!
Thanks again from the heart for all the information & advice you have given, I will copy this page as some of the things you have told me will be good to have for reference at a later date.
Happy New yYear to you all: unitarian, mistlethrush, howabout, midoriway, snailoon, LorraineSE22!
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