• Instruments & Supplies


    What materials does my child need?

    Elementary instrumental students need three main materials:

    • Instrument
    • Method Book
    • Other supplies (instrument-specific)


    Acquiring an Instrument.

    An instrument of suitable quality is essential.

    To give your child a successful first year in the instrumental program,  parents are encouraged to avoid temptations to purchase cheap online instruments that appear to be "too good to be true".  Instruments of poor quality can be frustrating and are often unplayable due to insufficient design, materials, and workmanship.  Many conscientious parents bring these low-quality instruments to repair shops and are discouraged to find that the repairs needed to make the instrument playable are much greater than the cost of the instrument.

    Please reach out to your child's instrumental teacher with any questions to help clarify differences between vendors or to inquire about the quality of a brand of instrument.


    Most families will rent an instrument. 

    • Rental fees usually accumulate towards the cost of the instrument (Rent-to-Own programs).
    • Instrument rental contracts usually include damage insurance.
    • Easy exchanges.  The rental companies will come directly to the school if your child needs to exchange an instrument.
    • Easy delivery.  The rental companies can deliver your child's instrument directly to their school.
    • Strings only:  String instruments must be sized to fit your child.  Your child likely still has much growing to do!  If you purchase an instrument now, you will need to keep purchasing a larger size as your child grows. 


    Buying an instrument.

    We do not typically recommend buying an instrument for beginner students.  Here's why:

    • Accidents happen!  Rental programs tend to cover the instrument in cases of damage, where purchased instruments would not unless they are specifically insured.  For more information on what a vendor would cover, please contact them directly.
    • Instrument brands that are poorly made and can lead to a challenging year for your child.
    • Please check with your child's instrumental teacher if you do plan on buying an instrument.
    • String students change sizes frequently (size exchanges through rental programs are free of charge)


    If you already own an instrument.

    Please contact your child's instrumental teacher to have them assess if the instrument is in good playing condition and is the proper size.  It may be possible that the instrument you have is not a good fit for your child.  To ensure the instrument is in good playing condition,  we can recommend stores to make any needed repairs.


    Strings only!

    String students must be measured by their teacher to find the correct size instrument.



    The vendors below are not endorsed by the State College Area School District.  They are simply resources to provide you with as much information as possible.  You are welcome to use any vendor you like, but we recommend that you please check with your child's instrumental teacher to make sure you are getting the proper instrument. 

    ** Ask the vendor about delivering to your child's school **



    **The vendors listed above sell these books.



    Essential Elements for Strings Book 1



    Standard of Excellence (Enhanced):  Book 1



    Standard of Excellence (Enhanced):  Book 1 

    5-Min Drill Method (Rath and Hicks)


    Other Supplies

    Some instruments incur predictable, incidental costs such as reeds for clarinet and saxophone, oil for trumpets, and shoulder rests for violin and violas.  Always consult the instrument music teacher about best choices and prices.


    A music stand

    Recommended for home practice.  Inexpensive, folding stands are most common.  Rental programs offer stands.  Let the teacher know if you need one.


    String instruments

    String instrument rentals should include these items:

    • Violins/Violas: Shoulder rest
    • Cellos/Basses: Rockstop
    • All strings: Rosin


    Band instruments

    Your teacher will provide you with a supplies list of any required materials for your child's instrument.



    Financial Assistance

    We deeply believe that every student deserves the opportunity to participate in the instrumental program, regardless of his or her life circumstances.  Please reach out to your instrumental teacher if you have any concerns about affordability of an instrument or supplies.  The school district has a limited supply of loaner instruments for students of need.


Last Modified on November 6, 2019