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Being a kid isn’t always easy, especially when you lack the resources to do what you want. Young athletes, musicians, and any 16-year-old yearning for freedom knows that not having money can hold you back from feeling like you’re at your best. Just for kicks, let’s throw out the question of whether or not you really need some new equipment. That’s a question for another day. Whether it’s a new instrument, a pedal board, or a whole bunch of accessories, we have seven suggestions for a high school musician who is short on cash.
Get a Job
We know this whole “adulting” thing is hard, but getting a job is the best way to combat a lack of funds. Everyone has different skills, available time, and connections, but thankfully there is a job market that’s pretty friendly to these differences. As long as you are willing to do the work, you can find many opportunities to work. (Granted, there may be fewer chances for you to work if you live in an extremely rural area or are under the age of 15.) You can work on the weekends, a few nights a week, or both. If you aren’t having success in retail or restaurant locations, perhaps you have a family friend who needs her lawn mowed or owns a small business where you could help out. Places of employment come in all shapes and sizes, so just try to find something which works for your availability and skill set. We know this is a big ask for young people who are still in school, but we promise it can really pay off. (Literally!)
Find Used Equipment
Although your average high school musician doesn’t do THAT much car shopping, looking for used music equipment holds the same wisdom as finding a ride that’s already been out on the road a few times. For example, instead of spending $38,000 on a 2019 Chevy Traverse, maybe you swing for a 2016 model and save 15 grand (Yes, that’s a real search we just did.). Just like buying a car, of course, you need to look for used music equipment that still has some miles left in it. If the thing is going to die on you in three months, wait for something better. There’s no reason why a high school musician needs all of her equipment to be brand, so look for ways to save a few bucks on items with longevity. You just need to make sure that the seller is reputable and the product worthwhile.
Share with Another High School Musician
We believe musicians should belong to a community of artists for a number of reasons. First, it’s always beneficial to surround yourself with people who understand your struggles and believe in your dream. Second, these people can push you to become a better musician. One of the ways in which this is true is by their ability to pull together resources and work together. Collaboration is a huge aspect of music, but it is not limited to the recording booth. Young musicians can work with people of their own age or those who are slightly older (perhaps even a sibling) to get the job done. We do want to warn you against being “that guy,” however. In basic terms, borrow when you must, but don’t be scared to buy your own equipment if you have the means to do so. Sharing is great, but you don’t want to be a person who is constantly using others and never striving to be a provider.
Ask Your Parents
What a novel concept! Since kids of a certain age have little to offer in terms of employment, it only makes sense of their parents to provide for them. Somewhere down the line from food, shelter, and clothing are hobbies and artistic pursuits. If your parents have the will and ability, they may be able to help you out with the costs of instruments and other music equipment. Now we’re not saying you should use your parents as an ATM for every wish you may have. If you are serious about your pursuits in music, you should consider tying in the instruments and gear you want with birthdays and Christmas gifts. Depending on your parents’ resources, this may result in you getting a guitar that covers both your birthday and the coming Christmas (or even more holidays). You can also offer to help around the house in order to receive an allowance which you can dedicate toward a big purchase. You’ll never know if you don’t ask.
Use Free Resources
Who doesn’t like getting things for free? Unfortunately with free stuff, you often get what you pay for. That’s why you should use a heavy dose of discernment when it comes to anything that sounds too good to be true. Still, there are ways to find free resources out there. The first way for a high school musician to locate free resources is by talking with friends, family members, and fellow musicians like we just discussed above. Expanding on that a little, we suggest you look for any free trials or gear you can find. These may be video tutorials on YouTube, free sheet music or templates, or going to a local school or church to find gear you can use.
Save Up and Take Your Time
Delayed gratification is a beautiful thing. While there are immediate needs we have to address (food, water, etc.), waiting can be a very important part of any big purchase. Call it envy or whatever you like, but we often find ourselves distracted by a material thing which we don’t actually need. If we hold off on a purchase long enough, it will usually either confirm the decision or show us why we were so wrong for wanting that thing. Delayed gratification also allows for us to save up money so that we can actually afford the gear we want. The only thing sadder than a novice musician who is up to his ears in high tech gear is one drowning in debt just because he thought he had to keep up with the Joneses. Some music equipment is very expensive, but it gets a lot less so once you have committed to saving up money over months or years.
Look for Deals in Stores, Magazines, and on the Internet
Bargain shopping is a tried and true tactic we think a high school musician should also use. Thanks to the internet, we live in a great time for consumerism. You can shop online, at your local music store, a second-hand store, or through a magazine service. If you have the money to buy something full price, more power to you. We simply know, for most people in the high school musician category, a deal is often necessary for a purchase to even be made. You can subscribe to emails from music brands or publications you like and we definitely recommend browsing the sites featuring all of your favorite music products when it comes to holiday or Black Friday shopping periods. If you find the right deal, you may be able to buy that instrument you want a couple of months sooner than you thought.
These seven ways for a high school musician to afford instruments and equipment are designed to make your young musicianship that much easier. We know it can be tough out there when your funds are short but your wishlist long. Stay the course and follow these guidelines and we know you’ll be alright.
Camp Electric is a place for young musicians to come together and learn in a Christian environment from some of the biggest names in the business. Our instructors come from today’s top Christian acts and they can’t wait to help you get closer to your goals as a musician. Click on the link below to find out how you can become our next student.