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music-moneyOur life’s passions are what define us as people. They sculpt our personalities and friends by guiding our interests, and give us a venue for expressing ourselves in the midst of an always stressful modern lifestyle. Personally, I pursue music as my passion. I’ve played over five different instruments in my lifetime, and have made some of my greatest personal connections through music.

That being said, I have always pursued it as a side hobby, and never really thought about my musical hobby as a financial investment. In the interest of further demonstrating to the world the value of maintaining a balanced lifestyle, I look forward to using the next two articles to discuss the time and economic value that lies in the pursuit of learning a musical instrument.

The first cost of music is a fixed one. Before we can begin practicing, we need to obtain an instrument. This can range from an expensive instrument such as a piano (which costs as much as $500,000), to a cheaper instrument such as a guitar (which can be purchased for as little as $100). Common band instruments such as the saxophone and trumpet then range from between $300-3000, depending on the quality of instrument purchased.

That being said, rental options have become widely available over the years. For example, an entry-level piano can be rented for as little as $60/month ($720/year). Alternatively, a guitar can be rented for as little as $10/month, and a trumpet can be rented for $32.

In general, these rental rates break even after a period of 1-3 years, meaning that a renter is able to try out an instrument for as long as three years before they have a financial incentive to actually purchase the instrument at all. What’s more, many larger music stores will offer a rent-to-own program, meaning that the renter has the option to purchase out the remaining value of an instrument if they carry it for a period of time. This means that we have all the financial incentive in the world to try out different instruments and styles of music before we commit to pursuing a specific one.

Cost of Learning Music

READ  The Financial Returns of Learning Music
Instrument Buy Rent Lessons Total Cost Over 3 Years
Piano $9,000 $60 $5,000 $14,000
Saxophone $2,000 $115 $5,000 $7,000
Guitar $500 $50 $5,000 $5,500
Trumpet $1,069 $58 $5,000 $6,069
Violin $1,500 $70 $5,000 $6,500
Flute $1,200 $55 $5,000 $6,200
Drums $600 $300 $5,000 $5,300

 
Upon having picked up an instrument, we then need to examine the costs of actually learning how to play. While it is possible for an individual to simply purchase a $30 book and teach themselves, (trust me, there are some fantastic books out there for piano and guitar), it takes a great deal of discipline and determination to pursue this route at first. What’s more, we risk developing bad habits if we teach ourselves an instrument before being shown the proper mechanics of playing in the first place.

Because of its effectiveness, we are therefore inclined to pursue professional instruction. In general, music lessons will range between $20-50/hour, with half-hour lessons being fairly common. Assuming the student then practices diligently for the prescribed 30-minutes, 3 times a week, we can assume that they will be competent players after three years, and advanced players in five years. Beginning at this three year point, depending on the sophistication of the player, we can start to question whether or not they might begin pursuing independent study.

At this point in time, the student would have invested approximately $5,000 in lessons. Discounted over the 3 years, this makes for a net present value of $4,570 today.