Why have instrumental or singing lessons?

The ability to play an instrument or to sing will stay with your child for the rest of their lives. Playing and singing will not only increase their understanding and enjoyment of music it can also:
• help social skills
• build teamwork
• increase self-confidence
• give opportunities to perform
• be a fulfilling hobby that can open up new opportunities
• give children a head start in music lessons, from Primary
school to GCSE, AS and A Level.

Research has shown that children who play an instrument perform better in their other subjects!
Playing an instrument or singing does take commitment. Pupils need to bring their instrument or equipment to every lesson and will need to play or sing regularly at home. They will need support and encouragement and there may be times when they will find it difficult. Remember that they will not be able to play tunes straight away and that the early stages may not sound wonderful.


You will normally receive an invoice for lessons in September, January and April. The invoice is for the current term's lessons and the invoice will be sent by post.  The invoice can be in full or in instalments, which are specified on the invoice itself.

If you would like to pay be Direct Debit, please contact us on 03000 262368 and we will send you a Direct Debit mandate form.

Please note that if payment of an instalment is not received on / by the due date, all the instalments on the invoice will be cancelled and the full amount will become due.

We guarantee your child will be offered at least 24 lessons in a full school year (September to July) and we aim to provide 30 lessons. If your child begins lessons in the first half of a term (and can have at least 8 lessons) we will send you an invoice for that term’s lessons. If your child begins lessons in the second half of a term (and so cannot receive 8 lessons) we will not charge you for that term. 

If your child is unable to attend a lesson for a reason outside the control of Durham Music Service (e.g. illness, exams, forgotten instrument) this will count towards the 24 lessons.

Prices 2024-25 Academic Year

There are charges for lessons and for the hire of an instrument 

Lessons £86 per term

NB this fee is as agreed with Durham Johnston and may be different to the charge made in other schools. 

Hire of Instrument £42.00 per term

If your child is eligible for free school meals on income grounds the following reduced charges apply:

Lessons £44 per term
Hire of instrument £11

If your child is eligible for free school meals we must receive proof of this e.g. in the form of a copy of your tax credit award (showing you receive child tax credit only), or confirmation from your child’s school for you to receive the reduced charges.

Note: Some schools support music lessons/ hire by paying the termly invoice for both tuition and hire of an instrument from pupil premium funding. This may apply only to pupils eligible for Free School Meals or to pupils eligible for FSM or pupil premium

What do you need to do now?

Sign up for lessons and a member of staff from Durham Music Service will be in touch to arrange your child's lessons. 

Instrument Loans

We usually lend instruments for 1 year. The loan period for larger or more expensive instruments is longer and can be up to three years for the most expensive to buy.

You will be responsible for the instrument loaned to your child. If any damage is caused or if the instrument is lost or stolen we will charge you for the repairs or replacement. You are therefore advised to make sure you have adequate insurance cover. Instruments will often be covered by household ‘contents’ policies or they can be insured separately through specialist insurance policies. 

Buying an Instrument

Once your child is registered with Durham Music Service you can buy an instrument through our instrument purchase scheme – you will not pay VAT and prices are heavily discounted. Unfortunately, this excludes drum kits.

We do not make a profit from this scheme and the instrument models available have been tried by our teachers. Your child’s teacher can offer advice on a suitable instrument and give you details about the scheme.

Please contact [email protected] if you are interested or would like to check on any prices.
If you buy an instrument privately please inform Durham Music Service so arrangements can be made for the hired instrument to be returned and your invoicing details to be changed.

Private Tuition

We do not usually recommend that children receive lessons on an instrument that is being taught to them outside school – it is confusing for the pupil and unfair on other children wanting lessons.
We recommend you contact Durham Music Service for advice if you feel this may apply to your child.

Changing instruments

It may be possible to change instruments but this is at the discretion of the teachers concerned. Sometimes a teacher may recommend a change of instrument e.g. brass teachers may feel that a different instrument would suit your child better or a string teacher may suggest a violin pupil tries the viola.

Extra costs

You will be asked to buy music books as your child needs them (usually available from local music shops) and occasional items of equipment e.g. woodwind pupils need to buy replacement reeds and string pupils need to buy strings when they break. Brass pupils will need to buy valve oil. Teachers will try to keep costs to a minimum.

Thinking about buying instead of hiring?

If you think you may do this please seek advice from your child's teacher and consider the following:

Buying on the internet - some very poor quality instruments are for sale. Beware of unbranded instruments and those that only offer a money-back guarantee if the instrument is ‘un-played’ as there are many faults that only show up once an instrument is played or checked by an experienced player.
‘Customer satisfaction’ responses often refer to delivery and appearance only.

Brass instruments – it is often better to hire for a term as sometimes a child suits a different instrument from the one on which they initially start.

String instruments (violins, violas, cellos) come in different sizes and it is very important to have the correct size.

Percussion Pupils
Your child will need a pair of drum sticks to commence lessons and these will need to be replaced as required. Drum sticks are not expensive and are available from the following:
o Brotherton’s Music Shop, Bishop Auckland
o Durham Music, Langley Moor or
o https://www.durhammusicshop.co.uk
o www.musicroom.com
o www.amazon.co.uk
It is important that your child uses the correct size of drum stick. Your child's music teacher will inform you of the size they require. 
DMS strongly recommends the use of ear protection for drummers, particularly if playing an acoustic drum kit (i.e. not an electronic one).
Ear plugs (single use or reusable) are not expensive and available online and from the music shops above.