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When my kids decided they wanted to be in band at school, I went to Pawn Shops and looked around to see what they had. I did not know if my kids would stick with it, and I did not want to put a lot of money into an instrument in case they did not take it but one year.
Both of my kids stuck with it from middle school through high school! We never had any problems with the instruments. You just clean the mouth piece good. Someone at a music store can tell you how or the music teacher at school can. We had both a clarinet and saxophone.
By Teresa from Durham, NC
I worked for years finishing musical instruments. Wood instruments should be inspected for cracks which can make the instrument sound bad, also the bridges and sound posts (inside) on stringed instruments need to be positioned properly, only a trained professional can recognize if this is right.
With brass and woodwind instruments you need to inspect the pads along with the mechanisms to make sure these are working properly. Just because it looks good doesn't mean it will play well. It is best to have a professional--not a musician as much as a technician, with you when buying a used instrument. Repadding alone could cost you $150 or more depending on the instrument you have purchased. Good luck.
You can make percussion instruments out of almost anything (a la the show "Stomp"). A big gallon plastic bucket upside down is a drum, a ridged plastic bottle can be scraped for a gyro, keys can jingle, and you can make a tambourine with paper plates! Hit cans and bottles.
A drum circle is great fun for the kids or adults. Try it at your next party!
By pamphyila from L.A., CA
Yeah, kiddo. You should've seen the "tubular bells my son-in-law made from plastic bottles, a little Super Glue and stems from bicycle tires. He's a musical genius. :D
If you live near a university or college with a music program, keep an eye out for their piano sales. Many programs will have an annual piano sale, and often school districts have them, too.
By Kirsten from Logan, UT
Any of your kids studying a clarinet or another woodwind with a cork? I just found out that you can use lip balm instead of cork grease - cheaper, easier to get and smells better too.