FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

QUESTIONS?

You may have any number of questions regarding your child's participation in the elementary band and strings program. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions, with answers. If you desire, feel free to reach out to the band/strings teacher at your child's building (see CONTACT page).

Where do we get the instruments?

Most families rent band/string instruments. Although you may buy or rent an instrument from whomever you choose, Zeswitz Music (Band) and The String Tree (Strings) are "preferred vendors" who have served Parkland families for many years . Each of these vendors offers a special, "Trial Period" rental rate to help you get started.

Some families already have a used instrument (i.e. from a parent or sibling who played) for their child to use. That is fine! If you'd like us to take a look at an older instrument to see if it will work, contact the band or strings teacher at your child's building (see the CONTACT page).

Larger instruments (i.e. baritone, tuba, tenor sax, French horn, bass) are typically rented directly from the Parkland School District at a greatly reduced cost on a first-come, first-served basis. If your child chooses a larger instrument, his/her band/strings teacher will contact you.

Can my child use an instrument I already have?

Absolutely - if a parent, sibling, etc. has an instrument in good working condition that you can use, that is just fine! We would be happy to take a look at it to be sure it works well. Please contact your school's band or strings teacher (see the CONTACT page).

Do I need to rent an instrument before the start of school?

No. Information will be sent home at the start of the school year. For those who choose to rent from our preferred vendors - Zeswitz Music (Band) and The String Tree (Strings) - and for those using/renting a school-district owned instrument, your instruments will be delivered to your child's school in time for his/her first lesson. All others (renting/buying elsewhere, using a family-owned instrument, etc.) will be notified of the date of your child's first lesson.

What if cost is a concern?

The Parkland SD is committed to helping all interested students participate in instrumental music. We have a limited number of school district-owned rental instruments, especially larger ones (i.e. baritone, tuba, tenor sax, French horn, bass), which available for low or no rental fee based on need. Also, Zeswitz Music and The String Tree offer limited numbers of needs-based scholarships to Parkland families. Contact your school's band/strings teacher if one of these programs can help. We do not want any interested student to be excluded from participation. If finances are a concern, contact the band or strings teacher at your child's school to learn more (see the CONTACT page).

Are all instruments created equal? (OR..."I saw a blue, purple, rainbow-colored instrument online...is this OK?")

Buyer beware! What may seem like a bargain could ultimately be a waste of money. Most instruments that come in various colors are poor in quality, disadvantaging your child. Many of these instruments are not able to be repaired, because parts may not be available.

I prefer to buy rather than rent...is that OK?

Absolutely! But before you do, some things to consider: What if your child doesn’t take to the instrument? What if you end up buying a low-quality instrument that constantly needs repair? We recommend renting for a "Trial Period" at first. If you are sure you want to buy, we'd be glad to help however we can (i.e. reviewing links online, sharing recommended brands/models, looking at used instruments you are considering, etc.). Ultimately, our goal is for students to have an instrument that helps them be successful.
FOR STRINGS: String instruments are size-specific. Your child may be fitted for a ½-size violin, then move up to a ¾-size in a year, then eventually a full size. While renting, size exchanges are free. Buying a full size string instrument in 4th grade can lead to poor technique and can affect the child physically as well.

Will my child get their number one choice?

Ultimately, yes. You are paying for the instrument. However, our band & strings teachers may make wise, helpful suggestions based on their years of experience working with beginners. For instance, if your child has smaller hands we may encourage clarinet vs. the larger (in diameter) saxophone so their fingers cover the keys/holes better. A student interested in Tuba may be encouraged to consider the smaller baritone horn, or even the ¾sized baritone horn, if we detect size to be a concern. Or say your child is "on the fence" between trumpet and drums, but demonstrates a weaker sense of rhythm/timing, we may suggest the trumpet to avoid frustration and facilitate success. Our goal is your child's success!

What if my child's instrument breaks?

Please contact your school's band or strings teacher (see the CONTACT page) regarding all repairs. PLEASE, please do not try to fix the instrument yourself! For small repairs (stuck mouthpiece, popped spring, broken strings, etc.), we can often do the fix ourselves. Larger repairs should be done by qualified instrument repair technicians, such as those at Zeswitz Music (Band) and The String Tree (Strings). Zeswitz Music and The String Tree repair all the instruments they rent FREE OF CHARGE and provide loaner instruments to use until the repair is completed. Vendors come to our schools each week to pick up/drop off instrument repairs for your convenience.

How much time must my child practice each week?

While each child’s needs are different, all band/strings students need to practice in order to learn and improve. What may take one child 5 minutes to master, may take another 15. Practicing regularly over the first 3-4 months is especially essential. The more days they practice, the better...even if it’s just for 5 minutes.

What does home practice sound and look like?

Each week at the lesson, the band or strings teacher will present new techniques, notes, rhythms and more. An assignment to reinforce this learning will be given. Practice involves repetition; expect to hear your child playing the same things over and over in order to master them. We hope students can find a place in your home, away from distractions, to practice. We recommend students use a music stand (for holding the lesson book or sheet music) to promote good playing posture. Inexpensive, folding music stands come with most instrument rental. If your child would like to borrow a school-owned folding music stand, just ask.

What about strings instrument sizes?

Violins, violas, cellos, bass’s come in various sizes. Your child will be sized prior to renting. It’s important to get the right size instrument. Fortunately, as your child grows, The String Tree will do a size exchange free of charge. We’ll monitor this as your child grows.