School band season is upon us, and parents everywhere will soon find themselves staring at school instrument rental contracts and wondering if it wouldn't be worth it to save the hassle and just buy an instrument.
If you have a child clamoring to start learning an instrument, go with the rental option first. As much as I wish that every child who started playing an instrument fell in love with it, the truth is that some kids will give band a try and decide it just isn't for them.
Another thing to be aware of is that when a child starts playing an instrument, they'll need a fairly basic beginner model, which isn't worth purchasing because beginner instruments are built to take abuse, not to sound beautiful or respond to nuance. If your kid really takes to their chosen instrument, use the purchase as a time to step up to a more advanced model.
Speaking of instrumental abuse, your child most likely will not treat the instrument as gently as it needs to be handled; this is born out of still-developing motor skills and unfamiliarity with how delicate instrumental mechanisms really are. Reputable rental companies will maintain and repair their instruments, sometimes at no extra cost to you, which will save you a lot of money in the first year of your child's school band experience.
At the end of the day, remember that you're investing not only in an instrument, but also in your child's social and brain development. Be happy they show an interest in music! It provides a lifetime of benefits.