Musical Instrument Upgrades
With woodwind and brass instruments, sometimes you can upgrade just by purchasing a better mouthpiece
Your child has started out on the wonderful journey of learning an instrument – yes, we know it can be difficult on the ears, frustrating trying to get them to practice and a whole bundle of nerves when they’re about to take an exam! BUT you are giving them the opportunity to achieve, to multi-task and to do fine motor skills, which will give them the ability to do endless things as they get older, including helping with being able to drive a car.
Assuming that all goes well (on the whole!) and they start to take the grades and achieve their passes, merits and distinctions, you may need to upgrade their instrument – depending on the make and model you started with of course.
You don’t always need to buy new. Sometimes this will be something you want to do for your child, especially for birthdays, Christmas, etc, but a lot of the time the cost will be an issue and, like cars, new instruments may immediately lose part of their value as soon as you buy them.
Going down the second hand route is usually the best option, especially if you are still not convinced that your child will continue ad infinitum, as the instrument will hold most, if not all, of it’s value (particularly if it is regularly maintained). Also, don’t forget that you can hire second hand instruments, including the upgraded versions.
With woodwind and brass instruments, sometimes you can upgrade just by purchasing a better mouthpiece, which will enhance the sound quality and tuning of the instrument or can be designed for a particular style of music. Most entry level instruments come with entry level mouthpieces designed just so that the instrument blows easily to get you started.
Often you can just check with your child’s teacher regarding the level of instrument your child is using and they will be able to let you know how far up the grades your child should go on that instrument before upgrading. If not, feel free to give us a ring and we can talk you through your options – we’re well practiced at this!
Just as examples (and these are guidelines depending on the individual):
If you were playing on a Yamaha flute, the 200 series would take you from beginner to Grade 5, the 300 series would take you from Grade 5 to Grade 8 and the 400 series would take you from Grade 8 to Diploma and beyond.
If you were playing on a Buffet clarinet, the B12 plastic model would take you to Grade 5 / Grade 6 having upgraded the mouthpiece ideally between Grade 4 and Grade 5 and then upgrade to a wooden clarinet – an E13 or possibly an R13 – to take you to Grade 8 and beyond.
Each child is different and each instrument is different, so please get some advice before you upgrade.
Don’t assume that because your child doesn’t “take” to a particular instrument, they shouldn’t play one. Often, they just haven’t found the right instrument for them. We have seen very reluctant string players become amazing saxophonists and dreadful flautists completely transformed by putting them in front of a drum kit!