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Music - Pitch for a better price

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Gone are the days when music teachers might expect a friendly ear to listen to pleas for a bigger budget for new musical instruments. But even on tight budgets, it's amazing what you can achieve, writes Andrew Livingstone.

Barter. Browse the catalogues you are sent to find the cheapest product. Then call up your normal supplier and play the loyalty card. Is that really the best price? Quote them their competitor's price, ask them to beat it and then go back to the other companies and keep knocking them down. In June, I secured five guitars and saved pound;100 - all for 40 minutes of my time. I called four companies.

Use the internet. There are some fabulous companies on the web, delivering the same quality products, just unbranded. My contacts in the world of musical instrument sales have told me that a number of these are as good as the branded ones. They come out of the same factories, but maybe have a cheaper finish.

Visit your local music shop and introduce yourself. It is surprising what you can gain from this contact - a prize for your awards ceremony for a young musician, perhaps? Music shops are given free promotional items by company reps: guitar straps, plectrums, drumsticks, instrument cases, and so on. While you are there, sell the shop an advert for your concert programme or negotiate to swap the advert for another piece of equipment.

Consider your delivery costs and ask the shop to waive them. If they really want your business, they will do it.

Check out the TES forums for more money-saving ideas.

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