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Bell’s Music Shop went through a rigorous selection process with our district’s orchestra teachers and was selected as the vendor to be present at all NISD orchestra instrument selection events. While you are welcome to rent or purchase an instrument from any vendor you would like, we invite Bell’s Music Shop to be present at the event for your convenience. Bell’s Music Shop has been an NISD vendor since they opened in 2007.

With that being said, it is important to me that you know that I recently became related to the owner of Bell’s Music Shop. Steve Bell and I were married in January 2015. I want to be upfront with my relationship to this vendor because he was the one selected by our district to be present at the instrument sizing events. Please know that you can use any vendor you would like to rent an instrument.

Information on Purchasing an Instrument

Some of the most commonly asked questions that we get are about purchasing a step up instrument. I tell all parents the same information...

#1. I don't recommend that you spend the money for a nice instrument until they've had a chance to play in 6th grade, and are sure they will be playing in 7th. This gives them time to decide if they like it enough for you to invest a chunk of money, and it also gives them time to grow into a full sized instrument. I don't recommend buying a small size instrument. Kids grow so fast that you'll just have to buy another instrument when outgrow the one you purchased.

#2. PLEASE - DO NOT BUY INSTRUMENTS on EBAY or on the internet!! Internet deals can be great if you know what you're looking for. In most instances, internet instruments are TERRIBLE. They look good and they're a cheap price, but not worthwhatever you are paying. These instruments are usually made in China, of a "wood-like" material. They don't stay in tune, the bridge usually falls off on a regular basis, the cases are cheap and fall apart easily, the chin rest/tailpiece is of poor quality, the bows warp (if they were ever straight!)...the list goes on forever. In general, if it looks like a spectacular instrument for an especially low price - it's probably too good to be true. If you're going to invest the money in your child's musical future, it's much better to wait until you can afford an actual working instrument. A general rule of thumb is that any instrument that costs less than $250 is a complete disaster. This blog has some specific pictures of things to look for: 

#3. If you've rented an instrument from a store for any length of time, you probably have "rental credit" there. They will put what you have paid in rental payments toward a new step up instrument. This can be a great deal, but instruments from a music store that are step ups usually start at a little under $1000. Sometimes ex-students are trying to sell their nice instruments as well. Contact me for more information about the different music stores and instruments for sale.

#4. Let me help you! If you're going to a reputable music dealer, they will let you take a few instruments home for a few days to try them out. Bring them to school, and I will play on them, look at them, and give you an evaluation of the better deal. There are affordable instruments out there that are much nicer than rentals. They range in price - anywhere from a little under a $1000 all the way up to the thousands and thousands of dollars. I can help you find something worth the money that you are able to spend.

#5. You do not HAVE to purchase a step up instrument for your child to be successful in orchestra. Playing on a rental instrument does put them at a bit of a disadvantage for things like All-Region auditions and Solo and Ensemble. At the same time, quality instruments are actually easier to play, nicer to listen to, and will help them advance much faster. Once you hear the difference between a rental instrument and a "real" instrument, you will realize why I encourage orchestra families to look into stepping up when the time is right. 

Please don't hesitate to ask for help or advice about new instruments. It can be a pretty overwhelming experience because there are so many very expensive options. A new instrument does not have to cost thousands and thousands of dollars to be an improvement over a rental!! There are many affordable quality instruments out there - you just have to know what to look for and where to look!