Beginning the Journey: Should You Rent or Buy?
One of the common frustrations voiced by teachers over the years; “Johnny is such a good student; he is already in Book IV, but his parents still have him playing on a rental”. Usually, this situation is arrived at by accident. Rental companies offer an apparent “Good Deal” using a percentage of rental credit toward an instrument purchase. What starts as a tentative arrangement for trial purposes becomes increasingly “locked in stone” as the rental credit builds. The sad result is a student learning on an instrument that has a limited sound. Then the parents feel that they are losing money if they don’t use the rental credit. If they were being offered a good quality instrument this would be fine but all too often they are actually obligated to buy the same instrument they have been renting!
The other way that students get “locked in” is that parents may be reluctant to spend the money on a good instrument until their student has finished growing. While this is understandable, teachers almost universally agree that this approach creates bad habits and low expectations in the student. Because of the poor quality of most rental instruments, students never learn to expect variations in tone color and dynamics. Further, parents are reluctant to maintain the rental properly because: 1- “We will be returning it in 6 months,” 2- “It doesn’t belong to us,” or 3- “Johnny may quit next week.” This trains the student (and their parents) to have very poor habits regarding maintaining their instrument, even if they finally do purchase a quality one.
So, what’s the answer?
At Potter’s, we assume a long-term commitment to music on the part of our customers. Our rental programs allow you to build equity while using one of our quality instruments. This way, when the student is very little and apt to change sizes in a year or less you can use the rental program until they slow down in their growth rate – usually at 1/8 or 1/4 size. The rental credit can then be used to purchase a “Step Up” quality instrument. You are then free to participate in our trade up program, increasing in size and quality as the student progresses. Your teacher will guide you in choosing the appropriate instrument as the student reaches new levels. The Potter Violin Company guarantees 100% of the original purchase price as a trade in credit on any full size instrument purchased from us. Fractional size outfits and all cases and bows tend to depreciate with use.
If your student is starting at a larger size, we recommend going to the better quality right away and bypassing the rental programs all together. This is because older students learn more quickly and will outgrow rental quality instruments almost immediately so there is really no point in ever using one. Occasionally, parents are unsure as to whether the student will continue past a few weeks. My suggestion is, in this case, that renting for 6 months will allow enough time to know if there is continuing interest and still preserves your expenses as a 100% purchase credit. Either way, be sure to have your teacher review your outfit to ensure that it satisfies their expectations.