Clarinet Rental vs. Purchase: Which is Right for You?

For many students, picking up the clarinet and joining the school band or orchestra is their first introduction to the world of music. For parents with kids looking to join their school’s band or orchestra, the decision of whether to rent or buy a clarinet can be a difficult one to make- especially if they’ve never played an instrument themselves. There are definite pros and cons to each, and what one musician considers a pro, another could consider a con. In this post, we’ll look at the pros and cons of both options so you can make the choice that’s right for you and your child.

Which is More Flexible?

Renting a clarinet is, without a doubt, the most flexible solution for beginner musicians and their families. Not only are you free to change your mind or switch to another instrument at any time, but upgrading to a better instrument as your child grows their skillset won’t be an issue. Plus, most rental agreements include repair and maintenance plans for a small extra fee, meaning you won’t have to worry about paying for most repairs or routine maintenance throughout the life of the rental. For this reason, many music teachers recommend rentals for new musicians. After all, who is to say your child won’t change their mind one or two months into lessons? If you’d prefer to buy, but want to be safe, consider renting for the short-term or participating in a rent-to-own program.

Which is Easier?

Although this answer changes from person to person, most would agree that purchasing a clarinet is the easier option. When you rent a clarinet, you’ll need to sign contracts, read through the fine print, and always make sure you’re making your monthly payments and abiding by all the rules. When you purchase a clarinet, on the other hand, all you need to do is punch in your credit card info and wait for it to be packaged and shipped. Some online retailers even let you pick up the instrument in-person at one of their local stores. If you do decide to purchase a clarinet, musical instrument insurance may be something to consider. If your child plans to travel with their clarinet often, or tends to be on the clumsy side, musical instrument insurance could end up saving you thousands in the long run.

Which is More Stable?

Since renting is the most flexible option, it only makes sense that purchasing is the more stable choice. By purchasing a clarinet for your child, you’ll be making far more of a long-term commitment to the instrument and to music as a whole. If your child has been playing the clarinet for at least two years, has shown acute interest in the clarinet during lessons or general conversations, or has a teacher who recommends owning a clarinet, purchasing may make more sense. Before you head to your local music store or add a clarinet to your online shopping cart, talk to as many people as possible who have played, or who have an understanding of, the clarinet. This may include band directors, teachers, or your next door neighbor who plays in the high school band. You’ll likely find their advice to be helpful and, even better, consider bringing them along with you when you go to the music store so they can try out the instrument themselves.

Which is Cheaper?

Renting may seem like the cheaper option but, in the long-run, it’s anything but. Think about it: if your monthly rental agreement is $20 and you end up renting the clarinet for two years, that’s $480 you could have spent on purchasing a clarinet. For this reason, many teachers and band directors recommend that students rent the instrument only until they’re sure they can make a long-term commitment. Plus, instrument rentals come with a variety of additional fees. If you’re new to the world of music and have never rented an instrument before, think of instrument rental like a car rental: once you add on insurance, rental fees, set-up costs,and other associated fees, the total cost can add up quickly. Ultimately, if your child is confident about playing the clarinet and is dedicated to properly cleaning and maintaining their instrument, a well-cared for clarinet can last for decades while still retaining much of its original value.

What Are Rent-to-Own Programs?

Rent-to-own programs are just that: programs that let you rent your instrument until it’s paid in full. Once it’s paid in full, the instrument is yours to own and do as you please with. Most rent-to-own programs offer maintenance plans and insurance at an added cost as an added convenience, making them an appealing choice for parents with young children who may just be starting out. For example, if your child’s clarinet pad needs to be replaced, it’ll be taken care of by a repair technician at no additional cost. Plus, if you want to own the instrument before you’ve paid it off in full, you can apply your rental credit to the total price of the clarinet and pay the rest out of your own pocket.
Whether you rent or buy, keeping your clarinet maintained is key. Learn how to adjust clarinet reeds for optimal sound quality.

Music & Arts

Music & Arts is a family owned and operated music resource for parents, students, educators and musicians. With over 140 stores in 23 states and the largest private lesson program in the United States, Music & Arts is an authority on music education and a resource for new and experienced musicians alike.

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