"It's good enough for a beginner"
This HAS to be one of the worst
catch-phrases ever uttered. Having spent some years as an educator, and 28
years in the retail music business, I understand that this phrase has done
untold amounts of harm to budding young musicians that were never able to
realize their potential because of the inferior, poor quality instrument
they were given to play by their ill-informed, yet well-meaning parents.
The truth is that beginners need
all the help they can get. They are being asked to learn new motor skills,
to read a new language (musical notation), and adapt to a new social
setting all at once. If they are frustrated by an instrument that is
constantly in need of adjustment or repair... or won't play at all... how
can their interest be held or their talents revealed and developed?
There are many avenues open to
today's parents when it comes to selecting a band instrument for their
child to play in their new school band setting. And it's very hard for
ill-informed parents to see past the price offered on some instruments
without realizing they are asking their child to perform on equipment that
may be of inferior or poor quality. Your school music teacher should be
your first contact when questioning the quality and acceptability of an
instrument. They know the brands of instruments that are well-built and
play in tune. And they also know the brands that will likely give your
child frustration and a poor chance of success in the band program.
Secondly, your school music dealer
is another wise choice for a recommendation. They want to see your child
succeed as much as your teacher does. They know what can happen when a
child is not given a fair chance to learn by playing on a poor instrument.
Even having an instrument made by a reputable
manufacturer is no guarantee of success. If the instrument is used it
should be checked over by a qualified repair technician to see if there
are any mechanical problems that may interfere with your child's success.
ANY instrument that does not operate well mechanically will be a problem.
A good instrument that works properly, a good teacher
that cares for their student's success, and proper encouragement from the
parents are three key ingredients in the formula for success in beginning
band. It's ultimately up to the student... but without those three
ingredients success is less likely.