Musicians struggle with high cost of top-quality instruments

Posted on: October 24, 2013

In the Guardian (London) on Tuesday (10/22), Hannah Marriott writes that many professional violinists cannot afford to buy a good instrument without financial assistance. According to the London-based instrument dealer Simon Morris, “ ‘Often, an investor with an interest in the arts will buy an instrument and lend it to them… As well as the financial investment, they benefit from a personal relationship with the player, from the satisfaction of asking them to play private concerts for their friends.’ … Half of [professional musicians] earn less than £20,000 a year from music… £30,000 is a common starting point for a professional instrument. So musicians scrabble to raise funds through colleges, trusts and charities, who allocate limited grants to young musicians whose careers seem likely to flourish. The leader of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Laurence Jackson … was able to borrow more than £30,000 from … The Loan Fund for Musical Instruments [in 1989].… The interest rate was so low that he was able to pay it back and buy the instrument outright.… The few who do own fine instruments … are the lucky ones: ‘They tend to make more money from owning the violin than playing it,’ says Morris. ‘That’s what funds their retirement in the end.’ ”

Posted October 24, 2013