Loaning an instrument to a student
I’ve got a student that has been progressing very well over recent months, and we’ve reached a point where she needs a better instrument. However, her parents are not in a position to invest in a better one just yet (better not bigger). Said student is already on a full size violin.
However, I’ve got an instrument that is better and more suitable for the ability level at which she’s at, and I would quite like to lend her this instrument for the time being.
Has anyone ever done this, if so, what safety points have you put in place, are there any contracts you’ve ever used? Who should take care of the insurance? I trust the family implicitly, close friends, so I’m not worried about them doing a disappearing act with it.
Thanks in advanced!
Edit - loan to lend.
No intention to charge money!
I haven't, but I would charge them for usage of it. Not an extorniate amount, but enough. I would say as its your instrument, you should insure it, but I'd suggest that whatever you charge them covers (part of) the cost
Same price as your local luthier charges for renting an instrument.
I once loaned my cheapest violin to an exchange student. After two weeks she stopped coming to lessons. When I finally got it back it had plastic strips glued on to the fingerboard. I had a Luthier clean it up. Solution: Tell them to rent a fiddle from the local music store.
If they are close friends, and you have been teaching this student a while, loaning the instrument should be OK. I borrowed an instrument from my former teacher for just over a year before I could buy my own. I added it to my homeowner's insurance for a nominal amount during the time I used it. However, that was for my own peace of mind, not by request. I have since loaned instruments to that same teacher for use by other students with no problems. Those were insured by me, and if they were also insured by the borrowing parties, I wasn't informed of it. If it makes you feel better to have a written contract, then write one up and have them sign it.
Look at the Barton-Pine Foundation's instrument agreement form (They loan out high-end instruments). You could use the same agreement, it's got a lot of interesting clauses.
"Care of the Varnish...The only areas you may touch are the neck and external hardware." That's pretty unrealistic, cellos especially.
If they're not in a position to invest in a better instrument right now, how do you know that they would be in a position to rent? Chances are they are not in a position to afford either one of those options.
The obvious concern is to be clear about expectations and responsibilities. Who is responsible for damages or even loss? Who is responsible for care and maintenance? For instance, lets say the student puts on a brand new set of strings, and surrenders the instrument a couple weeks later, and then claims for a refund toward the cost of the new strings? What are your expectations in terms of care? Do you mind if the student isn't maintaining proper storage conditions? What about dings or varnish damage? So as long as you have a clear mutual understanding of your expectations and agreement (signed) up front, I'd say go ahead.
How about this. Rent it to her at a rate her family can afford. However, place the rental fee in a savings account. When that account hits an agreed upon number so a better violin can be purchased, she returns the violin, give her the money, and help her select her own instrument.
Michael's idea is a good one
I like Michael's idea! I've loaned instruments before, but it was not expensive, and just for a week so I could change her strings. She was 10 at the time.
If I were you I would not lend this student one of your instruments.
David your observation is, unfortunately, not uncommon. I have given free food and lodging to "needy" international students only to find out later that his/her parent(s) were making more than 4 times my annual income, and then the student flew thousands of miles just to see a friend for a week. So much for the needy part I thought, and how unfortunate as there are truely needy students out there that could have benefited immensely more.
I've been burned once and learned my lesson. I sold a nice 1/2-size violin for $300 when I could have asked twice that. The family cried poor. After selling it to them I saw them drive off in a $70,000 car.
I suggest sending the family to a violin shop that rents out good violins ($2,000+). You don't want something to go wrong and for it to negatively affect your relationship with this family and/or your student.
Only once to a college student, and he made the most of it for sure. But that was truly an exception.
As a parent, i am sitting at the opposite side of this teacher/student relation. Please don't get me wrong; i understand where most of you are coming from and find them justified even. But i also feel that some replies were disturbingly cold.
I think I used the wrong word, loan instead of lend. I wasn’t intending to charge money at all! I’ll fix that in my original post now.
I am an ordinary parent with an ordinary kid. I think things like places to go for holiday and cars to drive are quite relevant in this context. If parents can afford the luxury, they should pay for tuitions and rentals, just as they should pay for dinners at restaurants. Yes, the financial side of parenting is hard, but teachers are no easier and can be harder. To be honest, my partner is reluctant to let my kid choose violin as a career mostly because she thinks musicians are underpaid for their life-long efforts.
I think Roger's advice to put together a document with clear care and expectations is a good idea. You'll want to specify what maintenance they should do and what they should NOT do. You want to lay out any rules, like not leaving the instrument in a car under any circumstances. And you may want to add if that at any time the instrument suffers damage or might have done so, that you want to be contacted immediately day or night at XXX phone number.
Go for it!
There are specialist insurances out there for musical instruments in use (I took mine out on the recommendation of my then Luthiers, Ealing Strings, who more recently closed shop), and one can add a clause to cover use by another person. They should pay the difference between that specialist insurance premium and what you are currently paying to keep the instrument at home, unless, of course, you want to make a gift of that money to that family, in addition to the loan of the instrument. Other than that, I can see no caveats.
Lydia - those are some good suggestions thanks you.
This notion that a family's choice where to put their savings shouldn't affect a child's opportunity for musical progress seems preposterous. Of course it should -- if they value traveling across the world, even to see extended family (why doesn't the extended family visit them?) more than their child's musical progress, how does it morally become the responsibility of a music teacher to ensure that the child makes musical progress?
I don’t see it as a responsibility, this is something I want to do. Not only are they good friends of mine, but I have a genuine interest in their children, I want to see them succeed. They are a breadline family, financially, but sadly qualify for very little support from the government. Both parents work, the children are in school, work hard, well behaved. Not that behaviour has anything to do with this.
I really appreciate Ali K's comments. What a thoughtful and considerate person.
My heart and brain do say the same thing. My heart was first, my head had to think about the logistics of it all!
@M Zilpah, Bravo! I believe not only will your student remember this act of kindness, but it could very well inspire her to work harder. And who knows, it may even inspire her to make the same kind gesture and generosity to a budding violinist in the future.
David wrote, "Why does it become the responsibility of the music teacher to ensure that someone else's child use a better instrument at no charge?"
There absolutely are a lot of people out there that are entitled, self deserving, think they’re better than everyone else. Thankfully, I’ve not come across this in my students (parents maybe), but my students are humble, kind and fantastic citizens of the world, and I love being a part of shaping that.
No one can answer the question but the OP. Mr Zilpah you have to decide based on how well you know the student, their level of responsibility, their financial situation. The people here don't know your student, you do. If you don't know the student well enough then I assume you have your answer. I suspect you learned a few tips, and received essentially blind opinions because the answer lies in the behavior of one specific person, of which you have the most knowledge.
I have several times loaned an instrument to a student. Usually a 3/4 size I like, with the conversation that the family should save to buy a full-size violin the next year. I also have a full-size I have loaned in the same way when I see someone spending money to rent when they need to save to buy instead. It has always worked out perfectly, with no contracts; though usually the family adds the instrument to their homeowners' insurance. It is a nice way to encourage a student who really practices, and shows the parents their child is worth investing in.
M Zilpah, now you've told me you're with Allianz, I can tell you that my insurance, recommended by my then luthier(s), is a British Reserve insurance, since taken over by Allianz.
Insurance? Everyone will say no no no, but the first person to contact for an informative conversation is the agent for your homeowner's insurance. You might be surprised by what they can offer you. Make sure to ask about theft, damage, and "mysterious disappearance." A theft is only considered theft if a police report is filed and *they* determine that a theft occurred.
I've borrowed instruments from teachers in the past, and always paid for their maintenance, never for their usage, though. Their value was more on the lower side, so they weren't insured, but certainly if it were something more valuable I would have insured it.