Learning Allegro has been blogging for a whole year! Here’s what happened since last October. Since the Learning Allegro blog has now been active for a full year (woohoo!), we’d like to take a minute to look back on everything that has transpired […]
At Learning Allegro, we never pass up an opportunity to take great music into the Greater Chester County area — or even beyond! Just this year, students and teachers from Learning Allegro have… Volunteered at the West Vincent Elementary Talent Show Partnered with local school […]
Renting an instrument for the first time? Here’s what you need to know!
If the idea of renting an instrument stresses you out, take a deep breath! When you have the right help, renting is actually an easy process and comes with LOTS of benefits. At Learning Allegro, we do rentals in-house thanks to a partnership with Menchey Music.
Here are the top five things you need to know about renting an instrument — especially if your child is new to the game!
1. RENTING IS AFFORDABLE. Instruments–even student grade instruments–can be very expensive. Renting allows you to pay in small increments instead of stomaching a $750 investment up front. It also means that you don’t lose much if your child decides to quit six months later!
(Obviously, the hope is that your kid sticks with lessons and loves them…but hey! Life happens.)
2. SOME INSTRUMENTS ‘GROW’ WITH YOUR CHILD. Most of the brass and woodwind instruments, like flutes and trumpets, are “one size fits all.” If your child is a string player, he or she will actually go through several small instruments until he or she is big enough to handle a full-sized one. Renting is especially a good move for string players because it allows you to switch instrument sizes without hassle as your child grows. (Little violins are super cute, by the way.)
3. MOST RENTAL SERVICES LET YOU PURCHASE THE INSTRUMENT DOWN THE ROAD. When I was ready for a full-sized violin in eighth grade, we went to the music store where we had rented for 9 years. The full-sized violin should have costed $1,500 (yikes!)…but the money we’d spent on rentals over the years was counted towards the cost of the new instrument. We ended up paying about $500 instead.
If your child loves his or her lessons and plans to play for longer than 3 or 4 years, renting is a great long-term decision. You essentially pay for the instrument over time, which is way more affordable!
4. RENTALS CAN COVER ACCIDENTS. Did your child lose part of his clarinet? Put a foot through his cello? Leave the violin on the edge of the table when you told him that wasn’t a great idea? No worries! Most rental companies give you the chance to opt into a “maintenance and repair” fee. For a few bucks per month, they offer a total repair service that will keep even the clumsiest kid in the world in business.
Instrument repairs can be very expensive “on your own,” so this is something we strongly encourage our renters to do!
5. RENTING IS A LOT EASIER IN PERSON. There has been a surge in people renting instruments online. As a music school, we strongly recommend against that. If you’ve never rented before, or you don’t know much about an instrument, it’s easy to end up with the wrong product — or worse, to get locked into a more expensive contract.
Find a rental instrument supplier in your area and GO THERE! If you’re in the Chester County area, we recommend stopping at Learning Allegro (shameless plug). Talk to a live person; take the opportunity to see your instrument before you sign any contracts. You will have much more peace of mind and will learn more about the instrument you’re bringing home!
Need to rent an instrument? Come see us! We’d be happy to help you. Our address and contact information are listed on the side of this blog and on the Learning Allegro website.
I SHOULD PREFACE THIS POST WITH A LITTLE NOTE. Yes, I’m in the music education business. No, I’m not writing this to guilt-trip you into keeping an unhappy child in lessons! There are certainly times to take a child out of music lessons, just like […]
This week, Miss Haleigh shares a little bit about the important role music plays in live theatre.
This spring, a number of the Learning Allegro teachers, myself included, have been playing in the pit for local theatres. If you’re not familiar, “playing in the pit” is a term we use to describe a small, live orchestra that plays for the actors in musical. Normally, pit musicians are literally seated in a pit in front of the stage, but that’s not always true. My “pit” for Titanic: the Musical at SALT Performing Arts was actually in a recording booth above the stage.
I’ve played in orchestras and wedding quartets before, but this was my first experience playing in a pit for live theatre. Here are a few of my observations.
MUSIC IS IMPORTANT. LIKE, SUPER IMPORTANT.
I often tell my Learning Allegro students that language is largely effective because of its musicality. I can say something as simple as “Yes, mom!” with many different tones behind it…and in my younger years, some of those tones might even have gotten me grounded! How we say something is often just as important as what we say.
Playing for a live show really underscores the musicality of simple speech (pardon the pun). It gives the actors an idea of what emotions to put into their words, and it gives the audience a framework for interpreting the mood of the story.
LIVE MUSICIANS HAVE A TOUGH JOB.
While the actors are delivering lines onstage, the pit musicians might have to speed up, slow down, or repeat segments of music to accommodate the speed of the actors’ conversations. The orchestra has to stay attuned to what’s happening onstage and be prepared for sudden changes.
In a normal orchestra setting, the music is the main event; in a pit, the story is the main event. That means the role of a pit musician is much more interactive than that of an orchestra violinist. You have to stay flexible and make sure the emphasis stays on the actors — all while playing beautifully.
FORMAL MUSICAL TRAINING HAS FAR MORE APPLICATIONS THAN MOST PEOPLE REALIZE.
Playing in the pit has reminded me how many ways a trained musician can truly use his or her skills. When we think of violinists, flutists, or cellists, we normally associate them with classical orchestras. We sometimes fail to remember that classical training will benefit a musician in tons of different performance situations. Wedding quartets need trained musicians. Pit orchestras need trained musicians. Cruise ships, black tie formals, big-shot recording artists, film scores, and even simple, local functions need trained musicians.
When we put our kids in private violin or piano lessons, I think we fail at times to remind them that their talents have applications beyond school band — applications that are fun and exciting! Which leads me to number four…
PLAYING IN A PIT ENCOURAGES COMMUNITY.
As a kid who grew up in music lessons, I almost never heard about community-oriented ways I could use my instrument. My middle and high schools did not have an onsite arts program. I took private lessons for 13 years before I ever got a chance to play in a group setting. And I have a feeling that many young students today have a similar experience. They know music academically, but have no idea how much fun it can be in a group setting.
In three short weeks of playing at SALT, our orchestra pit has become full of inside jokes, hilarious mishaps (that the actors hopefully didn’t hear!), and a general sense of community I never expected. I hope my students find that musical experience earlier in their careers than I did!
Thankfully, kids don’t have to wait until they’re orchestra-ready to see the community side of music. Sign your child up for a summer camp. Look into a youth orchestra. When your child insists that there’s nothing to do, encourage him to go write a song. There are many ways that you can convince your child to see music as fun and interactive. No pit required!
Learning Allegro offers fun, interactive summer camps for musicians of all ages. For more information, visit our main website.
It’s no big surprise that most kids love music, but hate practicing. We often sell practice negatively, whether we mean to or not. We paint it as work (which is true), but fail to emphasize the room for discovery, improvement and fun within that work. Like any good […]
“Confessions of a Former Bad Student” is a series by Miss Haleigh — Learning Allegro teacher, orchestra violinist, and former bad student. I never celebrated Halloween growing up. I went trick-or-treating exactly twice in my life: once when I was two (my parents, kind souls, […]
I’ve decided to start a new adventure–and no, it’s not another instrument.
Every musician has a friend who says, “I used to play…” or “I wish I could learn…” And at Learning Allegro, our response is always the same: “You can still learn,” or my personal favorite, “You aren’t dead yet!”
I guess if I can encourage others to step out of their comfort zone into the world of music, then I should put down the violin for a few minutes to step outside of my comfort zone and into the world of blogging.
The Music Room is my attempt to share the collective knowledge of the teachers at Learning Allegro, my music school. I’m sure there will be funny anecdotes (or stories of frustration) along the way, but music is my first love. It is my passion. I hope I’m able to share that love with some of you.