Frequently Asked Questions


Where and how do I get my child an instrument?

There are many different ways to do this.  They are:
  • Rent from a music store.  This is the most popular way to get an instrument into your child's hands.  I recommend that you visit Music & Arts in the Cherry Tree Shopping Center at the intersection of Rt. 29 and Rt. 216 or another reputable musical instrument dealer.  A complete list of these vendors can be found in the phone book.  Several local vendors are listed on the "Links" page of this website.  I personally use Music & Arts because I know the quality of the instruments will be excellent.  They also carry the method books we use as well as all the accessories required for your child's particular instrument.
  • Purchase one.  I do not recommend this.  You do not know if your child is going to continue playing, so it may not be wise to spend several hundred dollars on an instrument.  Occasionally pawn shops, flea markets, and garage sales will have instruments for sale.  Though the prices may be cheaper, this is EXTREMELY risky.  These vendors do not specialize in musical instruments so you may be buying an instrument that needs repair before it can be used (or may not be usable at all).  Remember, if an instrument is being sold, even a new instrument, at significantly below what a reputable musical instrument vendor is selling them for, there is a reason.  If you have questions or would like brand recommendations, please ask me.  Don't rush blindly into a purchase that may end up not serving your child well!
I already own an instrument.  Can my child use it?

Absolutely!  Many students use instruments that have been used by parents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, etc.  The only thing I ask is that the student bring the instrument to me before the start of his/her Band or Strings lessons so I can make sure the instrument is not in need of repair.

How much is this going to cost me?

Instrument rental prices vary from store to store.

Why are some instruments more expensive to rent than others?

Some instruments are, by their nature, more expensive to produce, and therefore cost more to maintain and fix.  I wish there was a way around this, but there is not.  If your child really wants to play one of these more expensive instruments and there are financial concerns, please have your child talk with me.  There is almost always a similar instrument he/she could play that would not cost more to rent.

What is "insurance"?

Some vendors offer "rental insurance".  Insurance gives you peace of mind.  For example, if you rented your child's instrument through Music & Arts, and your child drops and breaks their instrument (and trust me, they will), Music & Arts will cover the repair cost, and, if possible, can provide a loaner instrument for the time the instrument is in the shop.  If your child's instrument is stolen, then the police need to get involved and that can be a hassle, so let's just hope that doesn't happen, but you'll be covered just in case.  This rental insurance does not take the place of putting your child's instrument on your own insurance policy.  Be sure you check with your vendor about rental insurance and be sure you read carefully and understand the policy.  Ask questions at the store if you don't understand something!  There is no worse feeling than needing to take advantage of the insurance only to find out it doesn't cover what you need.  Ask questions!

Won't Band and Strings students fall behind in their schoolwork?

If a child's grades begin to drop, it is almost never because of Band or Strings.  Here's why:  Let's say your child has Band or Strings during Social Studies.  In a two week period, your child has 10 hours of Social Studies.  Band (or Strings) will take up one half hour.  So your child will still have 9 1/2 hours of Social Studies.  Ohe half hour is usually not the problem if grades are suffering.  If your child is a responsible student and finds out what work they are missing, there won't be a problem.  (Actually, it has been shown that participation in a music program improves students' grades in other academic areas.)

How much should my child practice?

Realistically, with children involved in so many activities, it is difficult to practice every day, though some students are able to accomplish this (and it's no surprise that these students perform at a higher level).  EVERY Band and Strings student should be practicing at least 4 times every week and each practice session should last at least 20 minutes.  Obviously students in our more advanced performing groups will need to practice more than beginners, but at all levels, how much a student practices DIRECTLY affects how well they play.  I cannot stress that enough.  That being said, however, I do not recommend practicing for 80 minutes once a week.  The muscles used for playing an instrument have not developed enough to handle this load yet and could be strained or damaged.  Also, the amount that will be accomplished during one 80 minute practice session is actually less than would be accomplished during four 20 minute sessions.

Do you have concerts?

Yes, we have a Winter and a Spring Concert.  Those dates will be given out as soon as they are finalized.  It is important (and required) that EVERY Band and Strings student attend and participate in these concerts.  After all their hard work, they deserve the chance to show off, and the rest of the group may suffer as a result of missing members for a performance.  Our more advanced groups may be offered additional performance opportunities in addition to our two concerts.

Can my child quit?

Instrumental Music is a year-long commitment.  Although you may remove your child from the program if there are extenuating circumstances, students will not be let out of the program without a parent conference.  It is important that you use this as an opportunity for your child to learn about commitment and responsibility.

Should my child take private lessons?

Private lessons outside school time are always beneficial.  A private teacher can provide more individual attention to your child in a one-on-one setting.  Though they are recommended (especially for more advanced students), they are a financial obligation and are not required.  A list of private instructors can be found on the HCPSS Music Department website.

What instrument should my child choose?

Typically, the best instrument for a child to play is the one he/she wants to play.  There are, however, physical factors which may make certain instruments more difficult for certain students to play.  Third, fourth, and fifth grade students can begin on the Violin, Viola, or Cello.  After a year, students can choose to switch to the Bass.  Fourth and Fifth graders also have the option of choosing Flute, Clarinet, Alto Saxophone, Trumpet, Trombone, Baritone, or Percussion (that's PERCUSSION, not just drums).  After a year, students may choose to switch to the French Horn or Tuba.  When choosing an instrument, you should consider many factors, including the size, weight, and physical demands of the instrument, especially if the student will need to bring the instrument on the school bus or walk a distance to and from school.  I would be very happy to assist any student in making a good instrument choice.  A student may only play one instrument and will not be permitted to switch instruments during the school year.  When registering for Band or Strings, all beginning students will be asked to choose a "second choice" instrument in case their first choice is not available.

What if I can't get an instrument for my child?

Unfortunately if your child does not have an instrument, he/she will not be able to participate in the Instrumental Music program.  Unfortunately the school is only able to provide a few instruments, and the demand for these instruments is far greater than we are able to accomodate.  This does not mean, however, that your child should not try again next year.  If your child still would like an extra musical experience, he/she may still be able to participate in Chorus, which is absolutely free.

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