Congratulations! You’ve begun your journey to becoming a Rock Star! I can almost hear the crowd cheering and screaming your name (or band name). You’ve purchased your instrument, without which you can’t learn to play, and are wondering if you have all the gear you need. Will your instructor require that you make additional purchases? Perhaps you haven’t bought your instrument yet and you are wondering if there is a package with all the things you need.
The short answer is….well, maybe.
Depending on what instrument you have decided to play there may be a variety of small accessories that are need. Most instrument purchase do come with a “package deal” but there are often some very important accessories that are left out.
A perfect package deal that has everything that you require would be
1. The instrument
2. A Case
3. A Tuner
4. A Stand
5. Small accessories (which vary by instrument and I will further elaborate below)
6. Method Book
Often times there is a mix match of the above things in a package but we are finding that most packages do not include a Tuner or a Stand.
Instrument and Case
Most instruments come with a case, however the cases are sometimes very thin and do no sort of protecting whatsoever. I think its just a way to make their brand more visible without them spending extra money. If that is the case (no pun intended…), then you would want to upgrade to a soft or hard case depending on how much you want to invest from the get go. If its an expensive instrument that you will be taking anywhere then I would require a hard case. If it is an instrument that the student will eventually grow out of and you don’t plan on going anywhere with it besides your weekly lesson, then a soft PADDED case will suffice.
The Tuner is very important because it will aid you in keeping your instrument in tune. Often times we purchase a new instrument that we’ve had shipped because hey it’s the 21 Century an we’re too busy to go shopping in between karate class, kumon, swimming, sports, and school not to mention our corporate jobs.
When a string instrument is shipped it is exposed to the elements. Yes, it is in a box (often times two boxes) but those boxes are exposed to extreme weather conditions if not outside than in the shipping holding areas where temperatures often reach 100 degrees. So the person shipping the instrument will tune the strings WAY loose so as not to create too much tension as the wood is breathing and expanding due to temperature changes or so the strings do not arrive broken.
Strings need to be stretched to the note before they stay (mostly) in tune. Once the string is tuned to the correct pitch it will remain close to that pitch. If you tune it to the correct pitch, it will most likely waver under the pitch for a week or two. There is, however, a technique, which your instructor is most likely aware of, to tune a half or whole step past the pitch and then tune down to the pitch it’s supposed to be. That tends to shorten the period where the string can’t seem to figure out what pitch it should be.
Your instructor can tune your instrument at the first lesson, or you can youtube how to tune your instrument right out of the box, but what happens if your instrument goes out of tune during the week? YOu only see our instructor once a week and he/she told you to practice 5 days a week but when you practice it sounds HORRIBLE because one of your strings is loose. That is precisely why you need a tuner from the get go.
We recommend a clip on tuner because it measures the vibrations to tune it as opposed to using a mic to listen for the sound. With microphone tuners, it has to be quiet around you for you to tune. If you are in a classroom with other students playing, it will be impossible to tune because the microphone cannot distinguish between your instruments and the other sounds in the room. With a clip on tuner, the room can be noisy but it is only tuning your instrument.
A stand is important because it develops good technique from the start. If the student has a stand, they usually sit up to read the music on the stand. The student can leave the stand in his/her practice area with all the books and materials needed on it. That way the student isn’t searching around the house looking for his/her book instead of practicing. When the stand is sitting out, it is a visual reminder to practice.
Most stands can be taken apart and stored in a bag if the student needs to bring the stand with them to school or a lesson, but generally, the stand stays in the practice area as most schools and lessons have stands there.
Small Accessories and Method Book
For the small accessories and book contact your instructor. The method books and accessories vary by instrument, style and instructor. I will post a few “must haves” below but there is a wide variety of accessories and reasons why you would need them that would need to be put in several different posts. Ultimately, your instructor will be the one who says, “hey, why don’t you pick up a footstool since we are learning classical guitar” or “you know what, we need a capo for this song. Why don’t you bring one to the next lesson”
The list below has just a few accessories that your instructor may ask you to purchase before returning to your second lesson.
Have all the materials but no instructor? Contact us today. We offer in home music lessons in person or online.
Have questions? Contact us via email or in a post below. We would love to hear from you on your path to ROCKSTARdom!!
Written by Shawna Morby
Instructor and Owner at Morbyus Music LLC