Rent or Buy?

Rent or Buy Blog Header

We all come to this question at some point in our playing careers. Our parents (or we as parents) have needed to make the all-important decision:

Do we rent or buy the instrument?

Why Rent?

In most cases, beginners of all ages begin by renting. Why? There are a few important benefits to renting as a beginner:

  1. Insurance. Our rental program comes complete with comprehensive instrument insurance that includes normal wear and tear, size exchanges, and replacing broken or damaged strings.
  2. Low-risk commitment. Beginners tend to either be young or just that: beginners. Renting allows you to try out the instrument and gauge interest before making a serious financial commitment.
  3. Rental Equity. At Johnson String, you build equity as you rent. 100% of the first year’s rent (excluding insurance and tax) plus 20% every subsequent year goes toward rental equity that can be used to purchase an instrument in the future.
  4. Finances. We offer three levels of rental instruments, not only allowing beginners but more advanced players access to a quality instrument. This is great for when the player needs a new instrument of higher quality but you are not ready to make the financial commitment.

Why Buy?

  1. You are ready for the investment. Purchasing an instrument is a great investment for your musical future. With Carriage House’s trade-in policy, 100% of the purchase price goes towards an instrument of equal or greater value when you trade in your old instrument. This allows you to better your instrument as your skills grow and change.
  2. Quality. While our rentals are well-maintained and high quality, they are still rental instruments. There comes a point when the player outgrows their rental and an instrument with a setup of higher quality is required. An instrument from our sales department is also not passed from renter to renter, and won’t have the same level of wear and tear. All instruments from our sales department also come with a one year warranty against defects in craftsmanship and materials.
  3. Finances. Violinists should expect to spend at least $1,200, violists $1,500, and cellists $2,600 for the instrument alone. If you purchase the instrument, bow and case together as an outfit Carriage House Violins offers a 10% discount on the bow and case. You will also work with a sales consultant who is a player and can give you informed recommendations. In addition, we offer home trials with up to two instruments and three bows at a time. This is the perfect opportunity to try out new instruments in a variety of environments and to get teacher and peer feedback.

**An additional option is to purchase a rental outfit. Give us a call or stop in for more details.

But I still don’t know what to do!

We can still help! Use the flow chart below to determine what might work best for you:

Rent or Buy Flowchart

 

Still not sure? Feel free to give us a call at 800-359-9351 or stop by our shop at 1029 Chestnut Street in Newton Upper Falls, MA for more information!

Learn more about our rental program here and our instrument sales here.

Don’t miss a post: subscribe to our blog!

Copyright © 2016 · All Rights Reserved · Silvija Kristapsons

Upright bass: integral to jazz and classical music

Upright Bass Blog Header Image

The bass is arguably the most integral component of any group. Can you imagine a jazz standard without the bass line, or an orchestral masterwork without a bass section? As the instrument with the lowest range, the bass provides the foundation for almost all music we are familiar with. For all of its importance, it is also a surprisingly unknown instrument and one that invites myriad of questions, including the favorite “don’t you wish you played flute?”

(The answer is no, by the way.)

Whether you call it upright bass, double bass, string bass, or just bass, it is different from the rest of the string family in a few ways. First, it is tuned in fourths rather than fifths. It also sounds an octave lower than what the player reads on the page.

The two main genres people associate with the bass are jazz and classical. Each of these genres have their own use for the instrument and superstars who dominate the field. What are some of these differences?

TECHNIQUE

In jazz, the bass is almost exclusively plucked.  Classical repertoire requires both the bow and pizzicato. Bass is unique among string instruments in that it has two different types of bows and bow holds: French (similar to a cello bow) and German (held with an underhanded grip).

TYPES OF PERFORMANCE OPPORTUNITIES

Of course, there is always room for innovators in any genre (think Esperanza Spalding or Edgar Meyer), but these are the most prominent positions you can expect to see for bass players in the two this post addresses:

Bass performance chart

 

ACCESSORIES

Bass players will need things like rosin (most popular are Pops, Nyman, and Carlsson), a wheel for transport, and a bib for comfort. Jazz players may also need a pickup on their instrument, an amp, or may even use an electric bass for ease of transportation among many other benefits. Brands that manufacture electric basses include Yamaha and NS.

Keep an eye out for more posts about bass in the future!

Don’t miss a post: subscribe to our blog!

Copyright © 2016 · All Rights Reserved · Silvija Kristapsons

Practice Tips

Practicing: the necessary evil of all musicians. We log countless hours plugging away at passages we just can’t seem to get right and etudes that drive us up a wall. How do you stay motivated and not waste time? Our staff has advice on everything from motivation to tackling that beastly passage:

 

Obviously, warming up is essential for the physical aspect of practicing. However, it’s also important to warm up your mind and get in the right head space before working on a difficult passage or technique. Beginning your session with fundamentals, a piece you know well, or some improvisation will help to establish focus and increase your productivity once you get to the serious wood shedding.

Rob Laff, General Manager, Bass


 

-Look for extra practice opportunities no matter where you need to do it. Don’t just practice at home. For years I have brought an instrument with me every day to work which I spend my entire break, alone, practicing. My last job wasn’t friendly to inside practice so I would simply take the instrument outside to a nearby park or the sidewalk. People will stare, let them stare!

-Invest in a “beat up” practice instrument.

Amer Koudsi, Customer Service Representative, Guitar and Bass


 

The best advice I ever received was this: If you are not feeling all that motivated to practice at a certain time, still go to the practice room. Do not allow yourself to get involved with other activities. Just sit there. Eventually you will just get bored and practicing will not seem so bad!

Matthew Fritz, Director of Sales and Acquisitions, Violin


Practicing is a skill that develops over time (and frankly one I didn’t truly learn until college). The two things that made a major difference in my playing were simply:

  1. If you know a particular section of the music well, stop practicing it until you need to use it in a larger context of the piece. Practicing passages that you know only wastes your valuable practice time. Practice time is better spent on correctly repeating sections that are still difficult. They become easier over time.
  2. I always had success working backwards. Starting at the end of the piece for some reason made things go more smoothly for me. I think a large reason of its success for me was that it forces you to work in small increments, whether that be a line of music, a measure, or even tricky passages within a measure. This allows not only for easily digestible sections but it always puts the music into context and avoids awkward transitions. But remember to refer to step one; once you get back to your comfort zone, stop. Running the piece as a whole should only be done when you are in the final steps of preparation for a performance.

Justin Davis, School Program and Guitar Specialist, Guitar


-When practicing, always have a goal and deadline in mind.

-Be sure to always practice your scales and the passages you are finding difficult to play.

-Practice using a metronome.

-Practice slowly and clean/polish your messy passages.

-Use a mirror.

-Be practical and don’t waste time by zoning out while practicing. Keep yourself mentally engaged.

-Slow down your right hand if it can not catch up with your left hand.

Armenuhi Hovakimian, Sales Representative, Violin


 

-Don’t expect to fix an issue or fully accomplish learning a technique or a piece within one practice session. It is easy to get frustrated if you overestimate what can be accomplished in a short amount of time, so it’s better to adjust your expectations and think of a practice session as one step on the staircase of improvement: the length of the staircase may vary depending on the goal (and you can argue that the staircase never ends), but this way you will find value in your practice and will not get discouraged if you don’t master something as quickly as you would like.

-Make yourself comfortable! Practicing is much more enjoyable if your surroundings suit your style. For example, if you are always cold (like me), make sure you practice in a warm area or wear finger-less gloves, and be sure to give yourself time to warm up properly. If you prefer privacy while you work, find a time to practice when no one else is home. If you like to take breaks, take them! Do whatever makes you comfortable and suits your personal style the best.

-COFFEE IS MAGIC-I enjoy practicing most when I have an ice coffee readily available!

Theresa Cleary, Customer Service Representative, Viola

Don’t miss a post–subscribe to our blog!

Copyright © 2016 · All Rights Reserved · Silvija Kristapsons

 

 

Summer Programs

Summer Programs

While it may be cold and snowy outside, we have entered the season of summer program applications! We get a lot of questions from parents about summer programs, including what we know or recommend or how to even begin the process of looking for programs. While everyone has different goals when conducting their search, we can give you an idea of how to begin:

What does their teacher recommend?

Your child’s teachers are a valuable resource. They know your child’s musical strengths, and will have a good idea of what programs might be appropriate. They will have suggestions based on your child’s ability, commitment, and interest.

Where do your children want to go?

Don’t forget to consult the person attending the program! Some may have no idea, but others will have something in mind. While their goals may not be realistic for one reason or another (or maybe they are, in which case, jackpot!), it will give you an idea of the type of experience they are looking for. You can frame your search with that in mind.

What kind of program are you looking for?

What is your goal? Programs are centered around different aspects of playing an instrument. For example, some focus exclusively on chamber music, individual practice, or orchestral playing. Others combine them. If the goal is to gain more orchestral experience, going to a chamber music or fiddle program will not serve this purpose. Want to try a new genre of music? An orchestral program focused on standard repertoire is not a likely candidate. Confine your search to what type of experience you are looking for.

What is your budget?

For some, this is the deciding factor. Work within what you and your family are comfortable spending. However, like applying for college, many programs offer scholarships or work/study arrangements, so don’t let price alone make your decision. Cast a wide net when possible and see what kinds of scholarships might be available to you.

Additional Considerations:

Length: Programs range anywhere from one week to eight. Some students can handle the longer sessions, while others are not ready for an eight weeks away from home. This is a personal decision based on your child and your family. Again, your child’s teacher is a great resource if you are not sure whether a longer or shorter session is a better fit.

Distance: How far away are you looking? A program may look amazing but be hundreds of miles or even an ocean away. Consider travel expenses in your budget as well as how comfortable your child is being a long way from home.

Age Range: This is very important. There are programs that cater to both small and wide age ranges. It may be possible to have a high school student in a group with college students, or middle with high school. This can be beneficial, but this is a personal choice. They may have the skills to keep up with someone considerably older, but they may not have the emotional maturity to thrive socially. You want to make sure that your child has a great experience both inside of rehearsal and out.

 

Applications are due soon, so make sure you check out the due dates and materials needed. While geared toward college hopefuls, our post on applying to music school has a lot of great tips that are also relevant to summer program applications.

You can find a list of programs in the US on our website here and a list of international programs here.

Don’t miss a post–subscribe to our blog!

Copyright © 2015 · All Rights Reserved · Silvija Kristapsons