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Anyone else think this is a rip-off (kid's band class)

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xmas74 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-24-11 11:39 PM
Original message
Anyone else think this is a rip-off (kid's band class)
So, my kid will begin band in the fall. She's decided to play the trumpet. I have found a nice beginner trumpet, used, for a very reasonable price. I've checked it over and it works well. The person selling it is moving up to a more professional model. (I used to be a trumpet player so I have an idea of what to look for.)

The kid's school has since sent home a note stating that they personally need to "check over" all instruments that have not been purchased at a sponsored store. (There is only one on the list.) The store isn't even local-it's a smallish chain in the area. They also do not have sales-only rentals at about $40 a month. The trumpet I found used would be much cheaper. I would save money in a just a few short months.

Anyway, I spoke with a coworker about this and she said they ran across the same thing. Her stepdaughter played a different instrument in another school district and decided band wasn't for her. She sold them the instrument (which was only a year old) and their son took it with him to practice. His instrument was found to be "unreliable" and they were promptly informed that if they didn't sign a lease agreement within the week he'd no longer be allowed to play with the band. She said others have had similar complaints.

So, does this whole "rental" thing sound like a rip-off to anyone else here? Should I pass on buying the used model, in case the instructor doesn't pass it?



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Blue-Jay Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-24-11 11:48 PM
Response to Original message
1. Buy the trumpet, and tell the instructor to pound sand.
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xmas74 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-24-11 11:50 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. It's what I want to do
but I also want my kid to start when everyone else does.

I used to be a decent trumpet player. I was all state back in high school and played with small town community bands and a small philharmonic for a few years before I had my kid. I know what they want in a trumpet. It's the instructor telling my kid that I don't know what to look for and that if I don't sign the agreement for a rental that she might not start with the other students.
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Blue-Jay Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 12:06 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. My undergrad degree is in music education, specifically instrumental.
If you're satisfied that the instrument is in good repair, tell the instructor and the rental store to go fuck themselves (in so many words). If the teacher tries to hold your kid back, make a fuss with the school administrator.

I've seen this sort of shit before, and it's disgusting.
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xmas74 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 12:18 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. It's a solid instrument.
Nothing fancy and it's under $200, including two mutes. (Cheap little mutes but they'll work fine for a beginner.)

At $40 a month I'd pay nearly $500 in one year for a rental. The one I found is only a couple of years old and looks decent. I wouldn't want it for myself but that's because I once had something better.

Heck, I've found some old Ambassadors on Craigslist for dirt cheap prices. If everything is in good working order that model is great because it'll take the abuse of a beginner, compared to the crappy pictures I saw on the music store website.
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hayu_lol Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 02:35 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. Retired symphony/opera musician(horn)here...
sounds like you live in a smallish town or even rural for that matter.

The situation you describe smacks of 'kickbacks' to the teacher, the school, the school administration or someone else. Very common practice actually.

You played trumpet at a level that would allow you to know what the instrument is capable of. Years ago, I started on a overused ancient Buescher trumpet that within a few months could not cut the music. Lucked out when I got a better model. Suspect that my trpt teacher got a kickback on the instrument but the instrument she chose for me was everything it should have been. She was Jane Segar, ride trumpet of the Ina Rae Hutton All Girl Band. Couple of years later, I changed to horn.

Something is definitely not right with the situation you are in. If someone with your experience feels that a used instrument will do the job...you are qualified to make that decision. If the kid sticks with the instrument, then an upgrade is called for. Mandatory rentals usually are very inferior instruments.

Someone is getting paid off with this program. If necessary, see an attorney.
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Blue-Jay Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 09:15 PM
Response to Reply #5
12. "Kickbacks" is an ugly word.
But, it's nearly appropriate. Here's how it works: The teacher is encouraged by the 'only game in town' music store to recommend rentals for the new kids. In return, they get good deals on accessories and repairs for the school-owned instruments. On it's face, that seems like an OK deal for all involved, BUT sometimes (like in the above case) the educators and the administrators and the local shop go a little crazy and cross the line in promoting the shitty rental deal. That sounds like the case here.
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xmas74 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 11:49 PM
Response to Reply #5
14. I haven't played in a few years.
It's something I never had time to do once I had my child. But I feel as though I do know what a decent instrument should look and sound like. The instrument I found is fine and dandy for a beginner. I've kept my eyes open over the past few years for a decent second hand for myself, only something with a bit more kick. (I had to sell my instrument seven years ago. We needed the money.) I'd like to play in community band with my child in a few years so I've kept my eyes and ears open for something that each of us will need.

This is a small, rural-ish town and the instructor is newer-second year in the district.
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Liberal_in_LA Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 09:29 PM
Response to Reply #1
28. good idea.
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Phentex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 07:07 AM
Response to Original message
6. I am very surprised by this...
This rule would prevent many kids from being able to play. My brother in law is a music teacher and he is thrilled when anyone can get an instrument. He buys plenty of them himself for kids to use. Many here cannot even afford a rental.

I would buy what you can afford and challenge the rule if they say anything.
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xmas74 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 11:51 PM
Response to Reply #6
15. Some small towns have no problems
with preventing students from joining in various activities. It's a form of elitism-only the wealthiest can usually afford to participate in certain activities. In my area, band and drama are a few of the activities that have large sums imposed on families.
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davsand Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 10:02 AM
Response to Original message
7. We faced it with a snare drum.
Small town band teacher was pissed we didn't want to pay an obscene amount of money to rent a drum from her pals and she threatened our daughter that she would not be allowed to start lessons until she PERSONALLY inspected the drum we'd bought. Band teacher did not realize that the drum came from a local drum shop owned by a friend of ours (he was one of several local musicians that showed up to jam at our wedding reception back many years ago, his shop is across the street from my husband's office, and he had given our daughter hand drumming lessons the year before...) WE knew the quality of that drum.

I made some calls and found out that this particular teacher was well known for her "relationship" with a particular instrument rental company, and that any kid that didn't rent from that company usually was ready to quit band by Christmas because this woman dogged them so bad.

I took the drum in to the school so that she could "inspect" it. While I was there I explained to her where the drum had come from and that we had a "relationship" with this particular drum shop and its owner. I also told her to call me if she needed any contributions to the band program like sheet music or any other supplies--that I'd be willing to do some fund raising, if needed. We got along fine after that, and my kid is still a percussionist long after she's away from that teacher.

I knew damn well that woman was getting kickbacks and she knew damn well that I was aware of it. I could have probably busted her out for it, but my kid was still gonna have to deal with that cow in a classroom--and THAT was not gonna end up with any happy resolution. I would ask you--do you just want your kid to make music and be happy or do you want to bust out that band teacher?

:shrug:




Laura
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xmas74 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 11:54 PM
Response to Reply #7
16. I want my child to be happy.
But the problem is that I don't think I can afford to get roped into a rental program for a couple of years. (That's the average around here.) I'm doing the best I can with my finances,which run tight to say the least. I have the money to buy a decent used outright but am worried about a longer term rental.

If we go with the longer term rental then something else will have to give in our little budget. We don't have many extras as it is but IMO music is important.
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Ineeda Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 10:11 AM
Response to Original message
8. If you're still a decent player....
take the beginner trumpet to the school and demonstrate that it's just fine. I'd guess you might even teach the teacher a thing or two. Sounds like there is, indeed, some shenanigans going on.
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xmas74 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 11:56 PM
Response to Reply #8
17. I called the owner and
he's willing to take it to the instructor. He's studying music education so he's more than willing to work with her.
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geardaddy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 10:17 AM
Response to Original message
9. It's a total rip off. n/t
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Gidney N Cloyd Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 10:56 AM
Response to Original message
10. I always suspected kickbacks were going on in our program. Went beyond the instruments.
There were approved tutors, also. Didn't matter if you knew someone good maybe a bit outside of the area and didn't mind traveling-- there were tutors within the circle of tru$t and all others. You could play the socks off the other kids but if you had a non-approved tutor or played a non-approved instrument from a non-approved store, your progress was stifled. We had a really top-notch K-12 music program, too (large suburban district), and the HS band director ran things from the top down for decades. But the funny business was incredible.

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xmas74 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 11:59 PM
Response to Reply #10
18. We have a newer instructor.
I don't know her story yet but I'm already suspicious.

I never went through this when I was in school. I rented an instrument directly from the school for three years until we could afford to buy one. (The rental was from the school and you paid $25 a semester. I paid it with babysitting money.) We ordered our beginner books from the same shop but we did that as a group and received a large discount for doing so. It didn't matter where the instrument, the mutes, the oil, etc came from, as long as it was usable.
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elleng Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 12:09 PM
Response to Original message
11. 'Funny' (not) anti-trust violation IN SCHOOL BAND!
Administration should be informed about this, imo.

Remember this???

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODu888i14-I
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xmas74 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 12:00 AM
Response to Reply #11
19. One of my favorites!
I catch myself humming it whenever I'm in the garden.

And I'm pretty sure the administration knows about this, since the information all comes home in schoolwide notes.
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elleng Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 09:44 AM
Response to Reply #19
24. Obviously admin should do something more than 'know about this.'
Damn!
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TheMightyFavog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 09:54 PM
Response to Original message
13. Am I the only one that has Mr. B Natural running through thier head after rading this?
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xmas74 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 12:10 AM
Response to Reply #13
20. "It's a bong!" nt
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hedgehog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 12:34 AM
Response to Original message
21. On the plus side - when I bought a more expensive trombone for my son-
the band teacher was happy to accept his old trombone into the program to give out to kids who couldn't afford the rent. I suppose we could have sold it, but this way some kid got to play who otherwise might not have. Since it became a "school " instrument, there was no problem of making a kid ashamed for taking charity. This teacher is one of the great ones - he's kept a umber of kids interested in school and out of trouble because they enjoy band so much.
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xmas74 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 12:45 AM
Response to Reply #21
22. My problem is that this teacher
only wants rentals and not personally owned instruments. The rentals are not through the school. They are through a music store that isn't even located in my county. In less than a years' time the rental will already cost more then a decent used instrument. In one year the rental price will be the same price as a new trumpet.

I can't afford this rental but I don't want my child to miss an opportunity to play in the band.
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hayu_lol Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 08:04 AM
Response to Reply #22
23. Another point to ponder...
if you buy at this price, you can figure a way to get your young musician some real lessons with a pro. In the long run, the lessons are worth more than you might imagine. School 'learner' books are geared for a very slow and extended effort. There is still Arban and many others. Follow your child's interest level closely. High interest requires private lessons with a pro.

I assume you have the summer to get this up and going. You might contact the Musicians Union in Saint Louis concerning pros in your immediate area(AF of Musicians).
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xmas74 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 09:28 PM
Response to Reply #23
27. Actually,
they start this summer. They have a special session of summer school that is nothing but "Intro to Band".

If she expresses more interest then I'll contact one of the professors at the local university for a list of students offering lessons. If she goes beyond that level then the next step will be to contact a pro for lessons.

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hedgehog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 11:35 AM
Response to Reply #22
25. I agree you're dealing with a criminal - kick-backs and extortion -
Edited on Tue Apr-26-11 11:37 AM by hedgehog
rent from my buddy or your kid doesn't get to play in the band. I just wanted to put in a good word for the good teachers out there, since teachers have been taking so many hits lately.

The contrast between the evil you're dealing with ( no mincing words here for me!0 and the potential good that could be done is devastating.
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xmas74 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 09:25 PM
Response to Reply #25
26. The school sent home another note about the program today.
It states that if a child cannot afford an instrument something can be worked out. The next sentence states that they only want "certain" brands of instruments.

I loved my instructor. He never would have made an issue of what brand or where we purchased it. We even had school rentals that were by the semester and very cheap, as a way to allow more children the opportunity.
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GreenPartyVoter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-27-11 04:18 PM
Response to Reply #26
29. Jeez louise! ElderGreenKid is a saxophonist and he started out on a
Edited on Wed Apr-27-11 04:24 PM by GreenPartyVoter
40+ yr old Buescher we found on Ebay. When that one went belly up instead of his instructor pitching fits he simply tried to help us connect with someone who might be able to fix it. Instead, we opted to buy a $400 Suzuki student Alto, which works great, but then of course the following year he wanted to switch to tenor, so he used the school's worn out one until we bought him a beautiful black nickel Kessler for.. well, it wasn't cheap. LOL

So yeah, I can't figure out what your kid's instructor is up to. Either they have a HUGE vested interest in either the rental program or in having a really great sounding band. Do they compete or anything? I could see a competition program being picky like that, maybe.

(Can you talk to the school about this? Maybe join forces with other parents whose kids are at risk for being shut out of the music program?)
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xmas74 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-27-11 09:32 PM
Response to Reply #29
32. I have another parent on my side now.
I spoke with a parent at my church and they also said that they cannot afford to buy new or to rent. They have a couple of old instruments around the house so their child will be playing one of them.

As to competition: from what I understand, they are becoming more and more competitive as times goes by. They are traveling for competitions and getting slots in large parades but that shouldn't matter on the middle school level, since the competitions are more high school.

If she sticks with it I'll look at a professional model for high school. In middle school all she really needs is an old used model that someone "loved".
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GreenPartyVoter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-27-11 10:12 PM
Response to Reply #32
35. Glad you've got someone else on your side. And I am sure there are more! Our son
did just fine first on the old Beuscher and later on the student Suzuki. And the Kessler he has is also used from Ebay. Got it from a pro musician who was upgrading. Definitely was no reason to jump right in with the most expensive instrument with him until we were sure that he was going to stick with it.

He did perform at a competition this year, but because they were a group made up from two different schools too small to put up their own band they couldn't officially compete. But that's fine. They got the feel for it and that's what was important.

I really hope things work out for your daughter and the other kids in her predicament. :hi:
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xmas74 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-27-11 10:19 PM
Response to Reply #35
36. Thanks!
I really believe that music education is very important in a child's life. If we are expected to have only a certain instrument brand then not everyone can afford to play, which is just plain wrong.
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Rabrrrrrr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-27-11 05:31 PM
Response to Original message
30. Potentially total ripoff - if the horn is good, but if teacher declares it unworthy, they're an ass
and you will know for sure if it's a scam.

Could very well be that the teacher actually is concerned and determined to make sure that no student is playing a shitty instrument that will make them not to want play any more or otherwise frustrate them.

Nothing can kill an interest in playing an instrument like finding one that's a piece of shit but because you are just learning you don't know it's a piece of shit and so assume that the reason you can't make it sound good is because YOU suck. The teacher might be genuinely attempting to keep that from happening.
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xmas74 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-27-11 09:34 PM
Response to Reply #30
33. That's what the notes say
but other parents have said otherwise about the program. Supposedly, they want all the instruments to be new and shiny because they want to be very competitive.

I don't even care for competition on the middle school level. Save it for high school. Let them learn and have fun in middle school.
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Lydia Leftcoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-27-11 08:54 PM
Response to Original message
31. Complain to the school board
and if that doesn't work, tell your local paper or radio station.

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xmas74 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-27-11 09:34 PM
Response to Reply #31
34. Others are raising a stink about it now.
In this poor economy most are lucky if they can afford to play at all.
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ThomCat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-07-11 12:23 AM
Response to Original message
37. It sounds like the band teacher gets kick-backs from the rental
agreements, and therefore has a financial interest in forcing kids to have to rent instruments.

$40 per instrument per kid adds up very quickly to a hell of a lot of money over the course of a year.
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xmas74 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-07-11 12:39 AM
Response to Reply #37
38. Yes it does.
I've found a used one for under $200, greased and oiled it and will give it to my child. No way can I afford a payment every month.

I found out at the meeting that the $40 a month is a three year contract. Now that's an expensive instrument!
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