In the every day world of retail most people understand that rent-to-own means you’re paying a lot more than you otherwise would for an item and often for a brand of lesser quality. The beginning band and string world of rent-to-own here at The Horn Section/Strings Attached works quite a bit differently.
Parents who already have a young player of clarinet, trumpet, violin or other instrument understand some things that new band and orchestra parents might not. The obvious one all parents understand is–kids change their mind!! A rent-to own plan like ours allows the student to switch from say alto saxophone to flute in the first year without losing any equity in the instrument. This happens more often than you may realize. A student may be enamored with one instrument but realize after hearing them all for a few months that they would really like to play something different. A simple contract change allows this to happen. In the case of fractional size (1/4, 1/2, 3/4) string instruments, a simple exchange to the next size is all that is needed. Had you gone out and purchased an instrument outright you would have to find a buyer for that and then try find a deal on the new model! Also consider repairs. Small hands sometimes have problems holding on to the new instruments and repairs can be expensive! Our shop fee is on the low end in the industry and is still $60 per hour. Most rental accounts will include repair coverage for a few dollars more per month and most experienced parents think this is well worth the money. Especially early on in the students career when everything is a bit new to them. Also rental instruments get repair priority– a very good thing when our back log is at it’s worst–sometimes 3 weeks or more!
BUT!!! Should you keep renting until you own the instrument? We keep the rates as low as possible on the student instruments we rent and we never charge any interest but the rent-to-own plan is designed for new students to give them the flexibility to change their mind in the first year with no penalty. Once your student has decided they are on the right instrument and are sure they are going to continue, the outright purchase of that instrument will save you lots of money. Often hundreds of dollars! Our contract allows for a 30% discount off any remaining balance when that balance is paid in full. Although the repair service is no longer included, by now the student will be much more familiar with the instrument and, outside of basic maintenance and the occasional needed repair, most instruments will not need service on a regular basis. If they do, the purchased instrument still qualifies for lifetime repair priority service so you will get it back fast!
So consider the musical instrument rent-to-own plan as a bit of a safety net for the start of your child’s musical adventure! Once their musical legs are secure underneath them the net is no longer required!