Renting band instruments popular this time of year

Aug 21 2011 - 9:57pm

Images

(ERIN HOOLEY/Standard-Examiner) Natasha Asmus repairs a guitar at Bountiful Music.
(ERIN HOOLEY/Standard-Examiner) Joshua Maloy, 16, tests out an oboe with his father, Kenneth, watching.
(ERIN HOOLEY/Standard-Examiner) Instruments don't have to be a certain color.
(ERIN HOOLEY/Standard-Examiner) Natasha Asmus repairs a guitar at Bountiful Music.
(ERIN HOOLEY/Standard-Examiner) Joshua Maloy, 16, tests out an oboe with his father, Kenneth, watching.
(ERIN HOOLEY/Standard-Examiner) Instruments don't have to be a certain color.

School just wouldn't be the same without the band playing at athletic events or assemblies.

So as school begins, potential band members are on the lookout for deals on musical instruments.

One option gaining in popularity is to rent instruments.

North Layton band teacher Brad Shafer estimates he has about 200 students in the seventh, eighth and ninth grades participating in band this year. He says between 60 and 70 percent of his students rent their instruments.

"It is (a good option) for a lot of people to see if they like (the instrument) without having to make an actual purchase. If they don't like it, they can get a different instrument," Shafer said.

Shafer sees a lot of students switch instruments over time. As an example, he said, starting out on an easier instrument, such as the clarinet, opens up a lot of possibilities for other reed instruments, like the saxophone or oboe. Similarly, he said, by starting out on the trumpet, students can easily transfer to the trombone or tuba.

The most popular instrument rented out from Bountiful Music is the clarinet, store manager Lauri Powell said. That is because a lot of beginning band teachers will start their students out on that instrument, she said.

Most of the instruments rent for around $30 a month, she said.

"My mom always joked with me and my siblings, even though she wasn't very musically inclined. She liked to tell us, 'I gave you the gift of music, because I paid for all of it,'" Powell quipped.

For Shafer, the most popular instruments in his band are the flute for girls and the trumpet for boys. However, he said a few boys have picked up the flute in past years, and one of his best tuba players was a girl.

Shafer said he is lucky if he ever gets a few girls in the brass department, where usually 80 percent or more are played by boys.

"It all depends on their personality," he says. "A lot of times girls are very shy, and since brass instruments are very loud, they don't like playing a loud thing. But for boys, it's their alter ego, because they want to be heard."

Valerie Astle, of Kaysville, whose son Mason used a rented trumpet for seventh and eighth grade, had a good experience and excelled for two years on the trumpet.

But Mason reached a point where he couldn't progress any further on a beginner trumpet, typically the instrument music stores rent out most often.

"It really made a difference for him to switch instruments, because he could hear how well he was doing, and the other one kind of held him back," said Valerie Astle, who remembers how her son really took off with the more professional trumpet they eventually purchased.

"You get to a certain level where you need something nicer," she said, "because you can't get past a certain sound, and once your ability gets better, you want to see that advancement that helps motivate students to continue to grow."

Valerie Astle pinpointed her small insurance payment each month -- which covered such repairs as when the bell was bent or something broke -- as another positive aspect of renting.

Another option to consider when renting is the difficulty of playing the instrument.

The oboe is considered one of the harder woodwinds, according to Shafer, who also recommends against choosing the French horn from the brass instruments unless you have a good ear.

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