If you are thinking of purchasing an instrument please speak to Luke Pickett first for advice. Luke would always recommend buying new if you can, as the second hand market can be difficult to navigate. That being said, if you purchase from a reputable retailer you should be fine. Please avoid private sales such as eBay unless you really know what you are looking for. What you end up getting really depends on how much you want to spend. As with anything, you get what you pay for.
If you have previously hired an instrument you are likely to have had a 'student' model. These instruments are suitable from beginner to around Grade 4-5 standard. They are capable of going further than this but by this point commitment to playing has been made and it would be wise to invest in a 'mid-range' or 'professional' model. These instruments offer better quality, both in terms of the instrument itself and in terms of the sound. For children 'mid-range' instruments will easily see them through secondary school and beyond. Most makes of brass instrument sold by major retailers in the UK are very good; there are very few new instruments that are of poor quality, but there are some so do ask if you are at all unsure. Anything on the John Packer website is suitable - they are a very good retailer but you should look elsewhere too. For most people you will need to stick to the 'normal' models - don't look at anything specialist unless you have been advised to do so by Luke Pickett.
Luke usually recommends physically going to the shop to try out the different models as often it is a personal preference. Most shops are more than happy for you to do this and to give you advice. There is rarely any sales pressure.
For children in education, when it comes to purchasing the instrument you may wish to consider the Assisted Instrument Purchase Scheme (see below). If you buy through your child's school you might be able to get the instrument cheaper because schools can claim back the VAT for an 'educational item', thereby offering a substantial discount. Luke Pickett has not come across a school that isn't happy to do this but it will involve a conversation with them so please let him know if you want to look into this. Please do not order an instrument yourself directly from the supplier and then expect the school to give you a discount.
Assisted Instrument Purchase Scheme (AIPS)
Pupils receiving instrumental lessons at school can purchase new musical instruments through the Assisted Instrument Purchase Scheme at a discount including full VAT reclamation.
In all cases the following criteria must be fulfilled:
- The pupil must be in full-time education
- The pupil must be receiving tuition from a visiting instrumental teacher
- The instrument must be appropriate to the pupil’s needs – e.g. a beginner may not purchase a Stradivarius violin!
- The instrument must be handed over from the school to the pupil in a teaching room
- The instrument must be charged to the pupil at or below cost
Through this scheme it is possible to buy an instrument as an outright purchase from any local or national retailer. While considering your options it is recommended that you take into account the quality of the instrument and the quality of service (including the quality and convenience of after-sales service), as well as the price. In all cases the first step is to talk to Luke Pickett about the prospective purchase to identify the most appropriate instrument for the child.
To obtain the instrument from your chosen supplier the order must be placed by the school. For brass instruments Luke Pickett often uses John Packer Ltd., a well-respected instrument supplier in the south west. You will need to contact the supplier to get a quote, which should exclude VAT, but include delivery. The school will need to know the following information:
- Instrument type
- Instrument make
- Instrument model
It is recommended that pupils visit the supplier prior to purchase to try out different instruments, as each make of instrument differs slightly; however the purchase still needs to be made through the school: you will not be able to take the instrument away from the supplier at this stage.
N.B. This must be organised through the school, in conjunction with Luke Pickett. It will not be administrated through Wiltshire Music Connect.