Upgrade Your Beginner Instrument
Thinking of upgrading your student instrument?
Find out the best time to upgrade and the difference it can make to your playing.
Many music students begin playing in their school music program when they start high school. In some cases, the music program may provide instruments for the students to use, or rent. Many programs will request that parents purchase a student instrument for their young musician.
When is the best time?
Affordable, entry-level instruments are designed to be durable and easy to play. As a student becomes more sophisticated in their playing style, they may notice that their student instrument doesn’t produce the tone they want. This may happen anywhere between 2-4 years of playing and depends on the student's progress.
If a student is approaching grade 4-5 AMEB Exams, studying music in the last years of high school, or joining the senior ensembles, a student instrument generally isn’t suitable for these activities. That means it’s time to transition to an intermediate or professional instrument!
Consult Your Teacher
Before a student takes this exciting step, it can be a good idea to ask advice from their music teacher. The educator will understand their strengths, playing style, and abilities better than anyone. Since each type of instrument has specific features and can be suited to different styles, they will want to be sure to select the instrument that is the best fit for them.
What is the difference between beginner and intermediate instruments?
Although student models are typically mass-produced, intermediate and professional instruments receive more personalised attention from master instrument makers. Musicians will notice several things about intermediate instruments that are different from a student model.
Manufactured from higher quality materials: Intermediate and professional instruments are made from better quality brass than students instruments, and in the case of woodwind instruments, use real wood instead of plastic. This improves the basic sound of the instrument.
May be slightly larger and heavier: Since they no longer need to be made for very young hands or body frames, heavier materials are used to construct step up instruments. This will help you achieve a bigger. richer sound. Advanced features, such as extra keys and bracing, may also contribute to the weight of the instrument.
Better craftsmanship and more hand-worked elements: They may also have additional keys or triggers and aesthetic differences, like engraving. While some of these elements simply improve the look of the instrument, most students will also notice that they get better sound quality, tone and response and are able to better play complicated passages and pieces. The difference may not always be seen but can be felt and heard when the instrument is played.
Brands like Pearl, Bach, Buffet, Backun, Yamaha, Schagerl, Shires, and Eastman are always researching to improve their products and are famous for including many professional features on their intermediate instruments. This is exciting for students, as they can really begin to notice how advanced features can benefit their playing. Purchasing from a quality brand with a good reputation will ensure that you have the best chance at succeeding on your new instrument. These brands can hold their value be sold when it is time to upgrade to an intermediate instrument.
Can I afford a step-up instrument?
Many parents may be concerned about the cost of upgrading an instrument. Good news! There are plenty of options for great woodwind and brass instruments in price ranges that won’t break the budget. You can also rent an intermediate/professional instrument from Fine Music from as little as $90 per month* (based on instrument price of approx $1800).
The team at Fine Music can guide you through the process of selecting an instrument to fit your style and budget. For those who would like their teacher to assist in the selection process, we can deliver the instruments to your school* so you can try them during your music lesson. You can also book a Play-Test Appointment in store.
*Available within metropolitan Melbourne and some schools in regional Victoria.