I enjoy music. Growing up, it was a big part of my life, as I learned the piano, and played clarinet and tenor saxophone in three different school bands. As an adult, I’ve taken guitar lessons and continue to play the piano. My son has started learning the piano, and is showing interest in other musical instruments. I am well aware of how expensive these items can be.

If you want your child to learn music, but you are concerned about the cost of musical instruments, there are some things you can do to reduce your expenditures:

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Start with Beginner/Student Instruments

Your child doesn’t need something fancy to start out with. You don’t buy a beautiful, professional quality wood clarinet for nearly $2,000 for your teenager. There are plenty of beginner clarinets for closer to $120. Indeed, I played a student clarinet throughout junior high and high school.

Rent the Instrument

When I announced that I wanted to play the tenor saxophone my second year in jazz band, my mother didn’t want to buy the instrument, since it didn’t fit with our financial priorities at the time. Instead, we rented the saxophone. It was considerably cheaper to rent the saxophone for two years, rather than buy it. Check your local music shop, or ask your child’s band teacher if the school district rents out instruments.

Ask Around for Hand-Me-Downs

After I graduated from high school, I turned down a performance scholarship at one school in order to attend a different college. As a result, I didn’t need my clarinet anymore. My brother inherited it. You can ask around, finding out from family and friends if they have instruments you can borrow, or buy at a reduced cost.

Attend Music Department Sales

If you live in a university town, you might find that many music departments periodically have sales of old instruments. You might pick up an old piano for $300 to $1,000, which is pretty good when you consider how much a new piano costs. You can also find other instruments deeply discounted in some cases at such sales. However, you might have to pay a little extra to have them tuned or properly repaired before they can be used.

Shop Around

Naturally, it is vital that you you shop around if you are looking for musical instruments, whether they are new or used. Look for the best deals locally, and consider looking online for good deals. Compare prices, and consider the quality of the instrument.

You can also check in the local Classified ads, as well as online sites like Craigslist.org. Another option for shopping around, is Freecycle, a site where you can find things for free, or barter. Bartering can be a great way to acquire musical instruments. You might have some old exercise equipment that someone else needs. You never know what someone is willing to trade for unless you ask.

When to Upgrade

At some point, you might decide to upgrade the instrument (or buy if you have been renting). If your child is showing the ability to practice regularly, and a desire to continue improving, you might consider upgrading the instrument to something a little nicer. There are intermediate instruments that can be purchased. They are pricier than beginner instruments, but can be affordable in some cases. If all else fails, there are financing programs to help you buy more expensive instruments. However, it is better if you can save up while your child proves his or her interest and ability in continuing to progress.