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The cost of education

It was band rental time last week at Valley elementary schools and aspiring young musicians tried their hands at the flute, clarinet, trumpet and trombone.

Once children made their choices, parents could sign them up to rent an instrument from Lakewood-based Music Centers. A used clarinet costs $15 a month, while the most expensive instrument, a new alto saxophone, costs $37 a month. Renting an instrument is a way for families to get a child playing without a big, up-front cost of buying an instrument, said Music Center manager Jon Sleight.

Signing her daughter Maddie up for clarinet, Snoqualmie Elementary School parent Sasha Thompson agreed to pay $30 a month for the instrument. Thompson remembers that instruments were provided free of charge when she attended school, but as a former teacher, she's aware that funding is scarce for areas like music. Band, though, is important enough to pay for.

"The benefits outweigh the cost," said Thompson. "The intelligence that's built with playing an instrument is really important."

"That's money well spent," said Snoqualmie mom Carol Moore, who signed her son up for band. "It's something they can use all their life."

"This is the very beginning," said SES music teacher Kristi George, who said the music skills gained are well worth the price.

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