So, now comes the important part, getting instruments. The information below will be of assistance when getting an instrument. I recommend you print the information sheet and take it with you. (Click here for a PDF file of this document)
WHERE TO GO: At the bottom of the page is a list of reputable places to rent or buy an instrument. These stores rent/sell quality instruments at a fair price and I feel comfortable recommending these stores. The list is based on distance you have to travel from downtown Livermore.
Take this paper and your child with you to get the instrument. This is a must for string instruments because they have to be sized to fit your child. Included is a list of necessary maintenance equipment to keep the instrument working properly. I suggest you call several stores to get a feeling for price, service, availability, and rental programs.
WHERE NOT TO GO: Whatever you do, avoid the inter-net and discount stores. The instruments are cheaply priced because they are of low or unknown quality, can break easily, and will usually hinder your child’s progress (cheap). Also, if in need of repair, most repair shops will not fix these instruments because the repairs can cost more than the instrument is worth. In addition, they are afraid of causing more damage because of the poor quality of materials and workmanship.
FAMILY INSTRUMENTS: Family heirlooms are common, welcome, and usually fine. However, many have sat for years in the garage or closet. Get them out and make sure they work! You can send them to school and I can give them a quick look, but it would be best to take them to a qualified store (see list below) for a proper evaluation. Often times, repairing an old instrument (especially flute, clarinet, saxophone) is as expensive as buying/renting a new one.
RENT or BUY?: To begin I recommend renting. Call around for availability, pricing, and rental programs. The prices should be pretty consistent. A good store will have favorable rent to own programs. Ask about them. Most will allow you to build up an account which will either pay for the rented instrument after 2 years of renting, or will allow you to apply the amount in your account towards the purchase of another instrument (a great time to upgrade to a higher level instrument for high school).
TYPE OF INSTRUMENT: Quality instrument manufacturers usually produce three levels of instruments: beginner, intermediate, and professional. Beginners should be looking for an entry level, or “beginning” level rental. A beginning level instrument will get you into school. An intermediate level instrument will get you beyond high school.
SCHOOL INSTRUMENTS: We have some school instruments. These are intended for families in need or for students choosing to play large and expensive instruments (i.e., string bass, tuba, baritone, bass clarinet, etc.) and to alleviate transportation issues. Unfortunately, the condition of our school instruments are not on par with that of rental instruments and are meant as a final option for students in need.
A quality instrument will increase a student’s chance for success.
SCHOOL STRING INSTRUMENTS: Because of the high cost, we provide string basses (limited to school inventory). Because of transportation issues, most bass players practice before or after school in the music room. For cellist I try to provide a cello for school use while the student rents an instrument for home use. Again, this helps with transportation issues (limited to school inventory). We have a couple of school violins and violas but they are sized for smaller students (1/2 and ¾ sized), very limited in numbers, and not in the best of shape. Store instruments would definitely be an upgrade and of greater service to your child.
SCHOOL BAND INSTRUMENTS: We do have some school band instruments. Tubas and baritones are expensive instruments and are normally provided by middle school music programs. Most tuba and baritone players will practice before or after school in the music room. Many will bring their instruments home for the weekend and bring them back Monday. For students playing these larger instruments, if our inventory allows, I will try to provide a home instrument and a school instrument to help alleviate transportation issues. I have limited quantities of clarinet, trumpet, and trombone. These are intended for families in financial need.
I cannot stress enough the importance of getting a decent instrument in your beginning music student’s hands. A poor instrument or one that is often in the shop will cause a student to fall behind, get frustrated, and eventually quit!
Please contact me regarding any concerns.
Recommended Music Stores: (list order based on distance from downtown Livermore)
- Musik-Time, 2155 Las Positas Ct., Suite R, Livermore, (925) 456-3460
- Ingram & Braun’s Musik Shop, 3160 Santa Rita Rd., Pleasanton, (925) 462-3667
- JAMS Music, 7282 San Ramon Rd, Dublin, (925) 828-5267
- House of Woodwinds, 2205 San Ramon Valley Blvd, San Ramon, (925) 831-8341
- A & G Music, 564 14th St., Oakland, (510) 832-0381
- Ifshin Violins (strings only!), 6420 Fairmount Ave, El Cerrito, CA 94530, (510) 843-5466
Please note: We strongly recommend renting or purchasing instruments from a reputable music store. Less expensive instruments (such as many online “deals”) are very tempting but are often poorly made, easily damaged, and frequently in need of repair. Many music repair shops refuse to work on these inferior instruments because it is so difficult and expensive to repair them properly. Students without a properly working instrument often become frustrated and ultimately do not succeed in instrumental music.
- Flute: tuning rod and a swab
- Clarinet: cork grease, reeds (3-4, size #2), swab, mouthpiece cover
- Alto Sax: cork grease, reeds (3-4, size #2), swab, stuff-it, mouthpiece cover, neck strap
- Trumpet: valve oil, slide grease, mouthpiece/valve/snake brushes
- Trombone: tuning slide grease, slide oil, (or slide cream/bone bottle), mouthpiece/snake brush
- Baritone or Tuba: valve oil, slide grease, mouthpiece brush
- Percussion: (2) pair of Vic Firth 5A snare drum sticks or equivalent and a practice pad
- Violin or Viola: rosin, shoulder rest, instrument polishing cloth, rag (clean)
- Cello: rosin, rock stop, instrument polishing cloth, rag (clean)
- String Bass: rosin, instrument polishing cloth, rag (clean)