Minnetonka High School's Student News

Minnetonka Breezes

Minnetonka High School's Student News

Minnetonka Breezes

Minnetonka High School's Student News

Minnetonka Breezes

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Cost Crescendo, Despair Diminuendo

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Ava Heffernan

Yo-Yo Ma needed a new bow for his cello; fortunately, that only set him back $150,000. Kyung Wha Chung qualified for an international violin competition; good thing her mother didn’t mind selling the family home to get her daughter a great violin. Joshua Bell was ready for an upgrade; lucky him, his piggy bank could hold four million dollars.

While the orchestra students here at MHS don’t pay such exorbitant sums for their instruments, mastering a musical instrument can still be a heavy financial burden. The most significant cost is usually the instrument itself. You can hardly walk out of Claire Givens Violins, a Minneapolis retailer, without spending a few thousand dollars on an instrument. Some young, would-be, world-class violinists might be dissuaded upon seeing price tags that are louder than the instrument could ever be.
Resourcefully, some MHS orchestra students have picked up on some great strategies for making sweet string music on a shoestring budget. House of Note, a local music store in St. Louis Park, offers monthly violin rentals (with flexible insurance plans) for less than thirty dollars a month, empowering some families to take their time in acquiring a permanent instrument. Others have found exceptionally good used violins online at rock-bottom prices. These solutions enrich the orchestra experience at MHS because they enable a diverse ensemble of students from various socioeconomic backgrounds to contribute to the music and magic being made here.

But the instruments themselves are only a small slice of the economic pie. Weekly or monthly music lessons are another major outlay for Minnetonka families. Fortunately, our very own Minnetonka Orchestra Boosters program offers partial (or complete) need-based scholarships for orchestra students to pursue their dreams without breaking the bank. Even without scholarships, there are some relatively affordable and convenient private lessons available. For example, Minnetonka Community Center offers lessons at nearby elementary schools at a cost far below the average market price.

According to local violin teacher Natalie Van Burkleo-Carbonara, “There are a whole host of highly trained private instructors available for students” who are affiliated with non-profit organizations, such as Summit Music, that can provide performance opportunities at low or no cost to the student. In addition to performing with non-profit organizations, many students seek out additional performance experience with little expense. “One of the best experiences I’ve had is volunteering at nursing homes to play music for residents,” says Allison Britizius, a violinist in Symphony Orchestra.

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If you’re on the fence about whether a future in orchestra performance is right for you, consider talking to a member of Chamber Music Club, reach out to Minnetonka Orchestra Boosters, or talk to Ms. Finn-Sommerfeld.

Despite what you might initially think, there is a way for everyone to turn learning a musical instrument into a practical and affordable hobby. There’s more than one way to be a frugal Fiddler on the Roof, and that’s music to my ears.

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