One thing that concerns me about our industry’s future is the mismatch between growing interest and instrument availability, particularly in the school music market.
What makes it difficult to suss out are the strong enrollment numbers many programs seem to have. That means many school music dealers are faced with plenty of rental instrument requests, and several have told me that they’ve rented out all they could afford to provide. On the surface, it looks pretty good. But, like termite infestations, the damage isn’t front and center until it’s too late.
What damage? We’re turning people away in droves. As a dealer with a limited supply of rentals, I sent all of my pool out quickly last fall. But I was deluged with rental requests through Thanksgiving. The troubling part is that a lot of the requests were from parents who were denied rentals at the big school music dealers. Whether there was a credit problem or a genuine shortage is hard to say, but a number of them flatly—and honestly—told me that they were not approved due to their credit history.
Why should we care? Sidestepping the whole discussion of haves versus have nots, we know the benefits of music—academically, physically