Frequently Asked Questions
Do I have to buy an instrument for my child?
- We recommend that you rent an instrument. Most parents arrange with a local music store for a rental plan. This type of plan allows the student to try the instrument on a rental basis as your student learns. There is a list of recommended instruments and accessories that the directors have chosen through careful evaluation that we feel is the best combination of quality and price. Always rent your instrument from a music store that has a qualified repair shop. Please beware of scam instruments that are often sold online. If you wish to purchase your own, and not rent, please ask the directors for assistance with this endeavor. All violins and violas will need to rent an instrument because the school does not own them. Cello and Bass students will need to rent an instrument for home practice, but will be able to us a school cello or bass while at school so they do not have to carry it back and forth.
Can my child play a used instrument?
- Many fine used instruments are available from former orchestra students and local music companies. Most parents will choose to rent a used instrument. Please DO NOT buy any instrument until you have had it evaluated by the orchestra director. Beware of scam instruments! There is a wide variation in the value and quality of all string instruments. We have found that an old instrument in poor condition sometimes will deter the student’s progress. Also, you must evaluate the cost of renting versus the cost of purchase. String instruments do require maintenance, some used instruments will cost more to repair than they are worth.
What if my child needs a “small” size instrument?
- No worries! Our instruments come in ALL sizes! Many times it is necessary for a student to begin instruction on a ½, ¾ or intermediate size instrument. Most music stores offer these smaller size instruments on a rental basis. If your child requires a “small” size instrument, we highly recommend that you consider renting a “used” instrument. Since the rental fee is less for a used instrument, you are able to get an instrument for a small monthly fee. As your child grows, the instrument may be exchanged for the next larger size. There is usually no charge for upgrading sizes until you arrive at the “full or 4/4” size violin, “15 inch or larger viola, “full or 4/4” size cello and “3/4 size” bass. When your child requires a “full” size instrument, we highly recommend that you consider renting or purchasing a “new” instrument. You should expect to pay a higher rental fee for the larger sized instrument than the smaller sized instrument.
How important is practicing at home?
- In order to have a reasonable chance to succeed in learning to play, your child will need to practice at home. It is important to have a quiet place to practice and a music stand. We ask that you purchase a portable wire music stand for home use. The amount of time necessary for practice will vary from student to student. It is important for you to encourage practice and praise the results.
Is private instruction available? Required?
- While we encourage private instruction, it is not required to participate in the orchestra. If interested, we will be happy to suggest a private teacher. Private lessons are strongly encouraged for all students and are a vital ingredient for any successful musician. Most orchestra professionals choose not to teach at school, but prefer their own studios. Prices depend on experience, expertise and availability.
If we start on a rental instrument, when should we buy?
- We recommend that you postpone purchasing an instrument until you are sure that your child is going to stay in the program and/or until your child has grown into the “full” size instrument. We recommend that WHEN you purchase an instrument that you consider the fact that this instrument will most likely be the instrument that your child will keep throughout their secondary school musical experience. WHEN you decide to purchase, please buy the best instrument that you can afford. Most music stores allow some type of rental allowance/discount or preferred rental customer price. WHEN you are ready to buy, most music stores offer a monthly installment purchase program. Also, your director will be happy to help you pick a good instrument for your money.
Can a child be “musical” if the parents are not?
- Success of instrumental performance is determined by complex factors, the most important of which is desire. There is no music test that can make such predictions. No prior musical training is necessary to be orchestra, and no one can predict whether your child will become a musical person.
Can my child participate in sports and orchestra?
- The administration, coaches and directors make every effort to avoid conflicts in scheduling so that students who wish to participate in both activities may do so. We have many students that participate within our school athletic programs - Football, Volleyball, Basketball, Track and Field, and Cheerleading.
When will my child need the instrument?
- Please make arrangements for your child to have the instrument on the first day of class. In order that we start on an equal basis, this is very important.
Why is there a music company(s) at the school?
- A music company will be available on the night of your student’s visit. We invite a reputable music company(s) to display the instruments that we recommend and explain the concept of rental purchase. You are NOT required to rent through this company(s). They are merely here for your convenience and as a service to us. This company(s) does service the school’s instruments on a regular basis and convenient arrangements can be made for future service of your instrument’s needs. The invitation to display at the school is based upon the company(s) integrity, service to the school, repair capability, warranty, rental plan and competitive pricing.
If my student already plays an instrument how should we sign up?
- All new students should sign up for the generic orchestra level available to you through the FBISD online course selection system (6th graders - Orchestra I, 7th graders - Orchestra II, and 8th graders - Orchestra III). Once all course selections are turned into our campus our directors will contact new students in all levels. These new students will be given the opportunity to sign up for either an interview to select an instrument or an audition. Directors will use the results of your student's audition to place your student for the level most appropriate to their success. Please see our page on our Performing Orchestras to get more information on the orchestra levels at FSMS.