Q: For the first-time student, do you recommend renting the instrument or trying to find a used one (either through a shop or the classifieds)?
A: DEFINITELY RENT for several reasons:
1) String instruments come in different sizes and a 10 year old will outgrow the current instrument and need larger instruments several times over the next 5 years. The rental place should exchange these as part of their system.
2) Things will go wrong with the instrument and remember strings will break! Again, the store should cover this.
3)They should provide an instrument that meets MENC (Music Educators National Conference) standards and thus play well. An open market instrument could be in any condition and unless the parent really knows what to look for it could be bad. 99.9% of the time I have seen the parents get ripped off when they try to buy an instrument.
Q: I was hoping you could help a friend with this question. His 10 year old daughter wants to play violin or viola. Which do you recommend?
A: I’m always for the viola for a few reasons: 1) The world needs violists 2) It’s less squeaky than the violin – It’s pitched lower and therefore sounds a bit more mellow. The household will enjoy listening to a beginning violist more! 3) Young players really cant tell the different since the violin and viola are played similarly.
Q. I found a couple of teachers for my child so I’m just going with the cheapest. What do you think?
A. ARGGGHHHHH!!! I do not believe that a teacher’s cost is necessarily a direct result of the competency despite that it is often true. But I have seen parents who want their child to be professional musicians but will not spend a few more dollars for a great teacher. IF YOU WANT YOUR CHILD TO BE A GREAT MUSICIAN, THEY SHOULD STUDY WITH A GREAT MUSICIAN FROM DAY ONE! Do not view private teachers as something to be upgraded every couple of years. Study with a professional musician AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Otherwise, when the student does move on, the teacher will spend many lessons correcting problems, bad habits, or things that were never learned. Many symphony musicians (like the Chicago Symphony, not a random community orchestra) will teach young students. Yes, they may charge a little more and you may have to drive a little farther, but IT WILL BE WORTH IT.