There are two different ways to go about this: securing an instrument from a local shop or renting from a national retailer. Below is a list of local Austin shops that rent instruments and sells accessories. I’ve also included two national retailers that also rent instruments nationwide as well as sells the necessary accessories. Most rental programs are very similar, if not the same – you pay a monthly rental fee that may or may not include insurance (optional, usually, though I recommend it). A portion of the money you pay for that rental goes toward the eventual purchase of an instrument. Buying a cello is great but I recommend waiting until either your child isn’t growing so swiftly (i.e. needs a new cello size every 6-12 months) or your child has reached the full-size cello. You are buying an instrument so you want to make sure your child will use if for a longer duration of time or else you’ll have a small cello on your hands that no one can play.
National Rental Shops
William Harris Lee is not a local retailer but rents instruments online and will ship the instrument to you. Initially, the cost may be more expensive due to shipping, but the monthly rental fee is comparable to local shops and the instruments are high quality student instruments.
Johnson Strings also has a very similar rental program to WHL.
You may find other national shops that rent, I’m just familiar with WHL’s rental instruments – I had a number of students in Atlanta rent instruments from the shop in addition to current students in Austin having a great experience with WHL’s instruments.
Xeros Endpin Anchor – I require this rockstop/endpin strap. It attaches to the chair and doesn’t slide on the floor, maintains the correct length so there’s no guessing where it goes on the floor in front of the chair.
Suzuki Cello School, Vol. 1: Cello Part, Revised Edition– Your child won’t need this as much as you will at the beginning for reference. I prefer the physical copy to take notes in, plus you’ll have it when your child does need it. But if you prefer a digital copy, you can get the Suzuki Book 1 Digital Download on iTunes for iBooks.
Suzuki Volume 1 & 2 Recordings – digital downloads: YAY!!!
Chair/Stepstool – this is a tricky and detailed one. First, here’s how to determine if a chair is a good cello chair height.
Sit your child on the edge of the chair – the edge is important. Do the feet completely touch the floor comfortably? The feet must be completely flat and comfortable on the floor, with no straining or reaching to touch. With the child’s torso tall (think a tall tummy, rather than straight back), are the thighs at approximately a 100-110 degree angle? Are the knees lower than the hips? We do not want a 90 degree angle with the torso and thighs – this is terrible for the back and posture. A too-short chair will create this 90 degree angle while a too-tall chair creates an angle larger than 110 degrees. We need one that’s just right.
I prefer a chair without a back – chairs with backs tend to encourage sliding into the back of the chair and cellists need to sit on the edge – but I’m not terribly picky about back/no back. It must have a leg the endpin strap can attach to. Some of the chairs and step-stools I’ve seen don’t work well with the strap and we’ve had to jerry-rig it to make it work. But in general, if it works, it works! It really depends on what you are comfortable with carrying around and what works best for you and your child. Some prefer a more portable option, others favor the adjustable feature. Below is a list of a few options recommended by parents with some pros and cons to each. Keep in mind, your child will grow no matter what so these chairs aren’t permanent by any means.
pros: adjustable, somewhat compact-able/foldable tripod legs, great for endpin strap, cushioned seat;
cons: not lightweight, little more pricey ($35-40)
Kikkerland Rhino II Step Stool, White
pros: foldable, lightweight, easy to carry around, inexpensive (about $10);
cons: not adjustable, strap is sometimes difficult to attach to the leg;
IKEA children’s chairs
pros: you probably already have one (or more) around the house, generally lightweight, great for endpin strap attachment;
cons: not adjustable, folding and kind of a pain to carry around
IKEA stool – I have this in my studio right now
pros: great for older students, lightweight;
cons: not adjustable unless you cut the legs shorter (it’s been done!)
Shower Chair – yes, this is what you think it is.
pros: adjustable, lightweight, can come in many colors, strap attaches easily;
cons: clunky to carry around, can be hard to find in stores but readily available online.
Any one of these are great options – it just depends on your preference, what your child is comfortable on and what you are okay with carrying around. The chair thing is a pain but it’s not a permanent situation. At least it’s not a harp!