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, with a little time and effort - and a touch of Del Boy's trading skills - it's amazing what you can achieve. Here are my top tips.
- 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 their 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 unbranded products 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 etc. While you are there, sell the music shop an advert on the programme for your concert or negotiate to swap the ad for another piece of equipment.
- Consider your delivery costs and examine them carefully. You will be surprised how that cheaper order suddenly becomes more expensive with the delivery charge. Ask them to waive it. If they really want your business they will do it.
- Explore ways of increasing the revenue. Negotiate a deal to keep the revenue from concerts, etc. A series of quick lunchtime concerts with a nominal entry charge of, say, 20p will soon mount up.
This year I was able to order an extra pound;500 worth of equipment using techniques one and four. How much extra will you be able to order and what impact will that allow you to have? Happy spending!
Andrew Livingstone is head of music at the Royal Docks Community School, Newham, London.
Check out the TES Forums for more ideas from the community:
- Music teachers share some of their favourite classroom display ideas.
- Borrowing or hiring orchestral sets - what do you do in your school?
- Teachers compare how they manage their music budget and how they save money.
Find the forums and other links at www.tes.co.ukresources002.