Advice Clinic

How to get funding for musical instruments

4th April 2017

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Someday, you’ll be a star. Diamond-encrusted grand pianos will be delivered with the compliments of your record label. The planet’s finest artisan drum-builders will beg you to play their boutique kits. You’ll devote a wing of your mansion just to vintage glockenspiels. But for now, you’ve got a gig booked next week and the neck has just snapped off your long-suffering budget guitar. Here are four solutions that don’t involve flogging a secondary organ.

#1. Borrow an instrument

You’re far less likely to end up with broken fingers if you avoid the loan sharks and instead approach a charity like the Benslow Music Instrument Loan Scheme. If you’re a UK student, aged 7-25 and in full-time education, you could borrow a selection of high-end orchestral instruments and pay only a refundable £250 deposit (plus tiny annual charge). The Cherubim Trust offers a similar service to students aged 15-23, based within 200 miles of London.

 

#2. Dodge the VAT

Before you ram-raid the vintage guitar shops of London’s Denmark Street, here’s a loophole worth jumping through. A major reason why instruments are so eye-wateringly expensive is because VAT adds 20% onto the price tag. But with an assisted purchase scheme, students can ask their local education authority to order an instrument on their behalf, dodge the dreaded VAT, and have change left over for a studded leather jacket.

 

#3. Take out a loan

No, not from the barely-legal website whose 600% APR will have you strumming your new guitar in debtors’ prison. Try Take It Away: an Arts Council initiative that dangles interest-free loans of up to £5000, paid back over 18 monthly instalments. You just need to find one of the 300+ UK retailers involved in the scheme, then fire off an application. Similar setups include the Loan Fund For Musical Instruments and the Abbado European Young Musicians Trust.

 

#4. Get a grant

Free money. To the overdrawn musician surviving on own-brand beans, it might sound like a fantasy, but it’s true: there are various big-hearted organisations out there just waiting to stick a wad of tenners in your pocket. For grants of up to £2000, try the EMI Music Sound Foundation, Awards For Young Musicians or Future Talent. Just remember to make a donation when your career takes off…

 

 

Author

Henry Yates

Henry Yates is a freelance journalist who has written for music magazines including Classic Rock, Total Guitar, Guitarist, NME and Metal Hammer, and brands including V Festival, Download, Epiphone, Yamaha, Roland and Universal. His proudest career moment was meeting Jimmy Page - and his toughest assignment was interviewing Pharrell Williams."