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by Sheena Nickerson
Parent of Eric Nickerson, CMPI Fellow

I noticed it was time to upgrade my son’s instrument when he developed intense back pain from having to work very hard to produce a quality sound from his instrument. We purchased Eric’s first cello like many orchestra families by renting an instrument through the school music program. Through the years, as Eric became more interested and more dedicated to pursuing the cello, we gradually upgraded his rental and eventually purchased it. What feels like almost immediately after we purchased his cello, he was in need of a new one.

Eric NickersonWhat a process! We had so many questions: what price should we pay, can we trust this seller, how can we finance an instrument, how do we know this is the right cello? We started the process of what I like to call “auditioning an instrument” with a local string instrument shop who has a workshop on site. We set an appointment to try a few instruments and were even given a tour of the facilities. We learned a luthier is a craftsperson who builds string instruments, and we were able to experience the process of crafting a cello; this gave Eric some insight as to what to look for when auditioning an instrument.

Eric was allowed to test the instrument in the shop as well as take the instrument home for a few days to really get a feel for it. During this time, we took the instrument to his private teacher to get her insight. It is so important to bring your instrument to your private lesson teacher; they know your student and what will work best for them. We also spoke with Eric’s orchestra director and was given even more resources and referrals for cellos for Eric to try. We took our time, asked a lot questions, “auditioned” so many cellos, and about 6-7 months later, Eric finally found an instrument he was comfortable with.

So we found the cello, now how do we pay for it?

Most of the local instrument shops we spoke with offered some kind of financing through their company or an outside credit union. Ask the instrument shop about rental or trade in credit if you have an instrument to trade in. The scholarship CMPI gives to Junior and Senior highschool fellows helped so much in off-setting the price of the instrument. To help even further, we set up a Go Fund Me and shared with CMPI, social media, and posted flyers everywhere we could think of. We received many generous donations and are so grateful for the support we received. CMPI shared a fantastic database with many scholarships to apply for, and there are many scholarships that will help with the purchase of an instrument. We are in the process of applying for scholarships to continue to help offset the cost of the cello.

With the help of his musical community, Eric was able to find an instrument that he is comfortable with and that will help him through college auditions, college and beyond. Our last community meeting offered so many resources and tips to consider when purchasing an instrument. Gather as many resources as possible from your musical community: ask questions, ask for referrals, and take your time. The resources, guidance, and financial help offered by CMPI were so important in helping with the purchase of the instrument. CMPI Fellows are truly fortunate to be part of a program such as this.


Eric Nickerson

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