Declutter Musical Instruments {15 Minute Mission}

Today's mission is to declutter musical instruments.

This is one of those kind of random missions that either applies to you or doesn't. But I put it in the Declutter 365 missions for a reason.

Many of us played a musical instrument forever ago, but haven't touched it in years, either because of a conscious decision, or because life just got busy.

If it isn't our own, perhaps it is one of our kids' instruments instead.

Today's your day to make some hard decisions about these instruments.

I say they're hard because often decluttering objects like this is less about the object itself and instead more about coming to some conclusions about your life, and deciding, no, "I'm not going to play that trombone ever again, that time in my life has passed," or whatever other decision you've got to make.

Everyone's hesitation about decluttering these objects is a bit different. Perhaps you somewhere in your thoughts "hope" that you'll start playing again sometime in the future, or perhaps we think, "I paid good money for that" instrument, and hate to get rid of it.

If those thoughts sound familiar make sure to read my article about the 6 emotions chaining you to clutter and how to break free here.

Now, if you truly want to begin playing again I'm not telling you to give up your dream and chuck out that old instrument anyway. Instead, use this mission as a prompt to get you pursuing that dream again, instead of waiting until later.

On the other hand, remember the power of just letting something go that no longer fits your current lifestyle and dreams. Getting rid of the instrument can let you get rid of guilt or just be a weight off your shoulders because you no longer have to feel an obligation about something you no longer really want to do.

So just take fifteen minutes and get this mission done. Below I'll give you some ideas for what you can do with these old instruments when you decide to get them out of your home.

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Ideas For What To Do With Old Musical Instruments

Once you've made the decision about getting rid of whatever musical instruments you've got in your home the next step you need to do is decide what you'll do with them.

Your Choices: Sell, Donate &/Or Trash

The first thing you need to decide is whether to sell, donate and/or trash the instrument.

Sometimes these items are valuable enough that it is worth your time to try to sell them. And often times, they're not worth the effort. You need to make that call.

First, be practical. The old band instrument your child used in middle school is probably not worth a lot, so it may not be worth your time to try to sell it.

On the other hand, the professional grade violin your great uncle played in the orchestra may be worth getting appraised to determine value before you make a decision of how to get rid of it.

I suggest starting with your local music store to see if they sell used instruments. If necessary get an appraisal, such as from an auction house, if there is a possibility it is worth a significant sum of money.

If all that seems like a lot of trouble, especially if you suspect the instrument has more sentimental value than monetary value, I definitely recommend donating.

Some places that may really appreciate such donations include school music departments, churches and retirement homes.

If an instrument is damaged significantly, or needs extensive repairs, that may also make it harder to sell, and perhaps to donate, although perhaps not. Some places will accept donations of instruments that need to be fixed again, because they have programs set up for refurbishing them.

Please don't donate trash though, so make sure the place you are choosing to donate a damaged instrument is aware of that damage and still would appreciate it anyway, if you decide to go that route.

Trashing an instrument is definitely not high on my list of suggestions, but in some instances, if it has been severely damaged it may be your best recourse.

Special Note About Large Musical Instruments Such As Pianos & Organs

The thought of decluttering large instruments, such as a piano or organ, can cause a sense of dread just because of the logistics of getting rid of it.

I understand.

Ideally you'd be able to find someone who'd purchase it, and then take it away for you. But life is not always ideal.

Even if you find somewhere which will take the donated piano or organ you may still need to pay to get it to their location.

Sometimes decluttering costs money, but such is life.

I suggest calling professional piano movers to do this job, otherwise you're very likely to damage the instrument and make it worthless in the process of trying to get it out of your home, plus hurt your back in the process.

Further, depending on the condition of the piano or organ you may just need to pay to have it hauled off with no one willing to take it. Then, it is again just something you'll have to do to get that space back in your home.

I would love to hear other people's thoughts and suggestions for what to do with old musical instruments in the comments below, so tell me all about it!

Plus, once you've done this mission I would love to hear your results. Tell me what you got rid of and how you decided to deal with the item. You can even submit photos here of what you decluttered and I'll add them to this page.

Are You Ready To Declutter Your Home?

declutter 365
I hope this mission has inspired you to declutter your musical instruments, and also your home.

When you begin to declutter the feeling you get is contagious, so if you're loving the results you're getting I would encourage you to keep going.

I've got a whole series of 15 minute decluttering missions (eventually 365 of them!) that you can do.

Just pick and choose the ones you want to do, that will make a big impact in your home. But if you want someone else to tell you the order you can also grab the 15 minute daily decluttering mission calendars and follow along as we all get our homes clutter free together!

Photo courtesy of dumbledad

Related Pages You May Enjoy

Getting Clutter Free 15 Minutes At A Time Hall Of Fame

Free Printable May Declutter Calendar With Daily 15 Minute Missions

Go From Declutter Musical Instruments To Home Page

Comments for Ideas For What To Do With Old Musical Instruments

Click here to add your own comments

Home for retired instruments
by: TubaMamma

I am an instrument repair person and I highly recommend step one of decluttering is to take the instruments to the proper repair shop first. (Or have the piano guy come to you). No matter if you keep or get rid of them!

First off it gets them out of the house and allows you to think about the space with out them and a lot of shops will give free estimates and approximate values of the instruments. Then you will have the resources you need to make informed decisions.

Once you know how much it will cost to fix and what it could sell for then you can decide with confidence. Also broken or "dead" instruments may not yield any money but a lot of shops will take it off your hands and put it in their parts piles keeping it out of the land fill and it can potentially be the organ donor for another instrument to live.

Consider carefully. I have many people come in and wish they hadn't sold off or given away grandma's saxophone which turned out to be valuable.

The real truth is that instruments should be played and getting them out of your house and into the hands of someone that plays is better than collecting dust. Start with family. Cousin Jimmy wants to play the trumpet? Your niece always wanted to play the flute? Great it's out of your house but not irretrievable if you change your mind.

Instruments should be played if possible
by: April

Instruments need to be played! Get them into the hands of kids and let them learn how great music can be. Absolutely have a music store check it over before you decide to do anything with it. Even if it isn't worth anything to you and you want to donate it, having the estimated value of the instrument is good to know when making a donation to a school or youth facility.

Even instruments that are in bad shape can be donated to schools, and they can often trade them in to music stores to help pay for instrument repair on the good ones. I teach middle school band, and many instruments get donated. I graciously take each and every one, and I take them to a local music store that tells me if it is worth fixing or not. The ones that aren't, they give me some credit for the parts that are left to help pay for repair on other instruments.

There are always kids in every school that want to play in the band, but can't financially afford to do so. Having a school inventory helps me provide these children the opportunity to participate.

Better than money in the bank!!
by: Grammy & Gramps

When our three children became members of their school band we purchased the best quality flute, clarinet and tenor sax for them. Many years later, after their band days, we thought about selling them and giving the money to the kids. We were amazed how little we were offered for them, even though the music stores who evaluated them said they were in great condition. Our "pack rat" genes kept us from selling. Happy to say that our grandchildren are now playing all these fine instruments. They would each cost over twice as much to purchase them today.

If we had sold them and put the money in a savings account at 2% interest we wouldn't have the money in the bank to buy new ones today!!

Sell or donate back to the school
by: Mary Z

My 3 kids took up trumpet/sax/drums. When they moved up to "professional grade" instruments I asked the middle school band director if any upcoming students were looking to buy a used student instrument. I had the band director value it for me, so the price was fair. I also had the music shop inspect it so the next owner could pick up the "peace of mind" warranty.

I've passed on my musical instruments
by: Lois

In Jr & High School Band I played half a dozen different instruments, plus organ & vibraharp at home. All are gone. At one time in past 25 yrs I had two organs in my apartment! One a definite antique pump organ bought at auction of a relative; and one a spinet organ inherited from an aunt & uncle. About 12+ yrs ago I gave the pump organ to a nephew's family who are all very musical. In 2011 prior to a major move I gave the spinet organ to dear friends, for their grandson whom I'd heard play piano with a natural talent. It remains at his grandparents' home since they have more room for it & he is there often. I rarely miss either organ. All past instruments which were once so big a part of my life, are just that: a part of my past, since I'm now retired & apartment life is not conducive to keeping any extra large items such as these. In recent years I've enjoyed singing in Community Choruses...and that instrument (voice) takes no extra space! :)

donate them to a good cause
by: Paula

I would like to add a few comments on the musical instruments people store for ages! I am a director for a local student community band. We are given donated instruments on occasion and we love donations, but people need to understand - if the instrument has been sitting around in a closet for years and not taken care of, it is not playable without quite a bit of an expense! We have seen pad bugs destroy all the pads in flutes and clarinets as well as red rot in brass instruments. String instruments will have issues with the glue and will not be able to be restrung again.

If you are saving an instrument for a grandchild to use, please do not! It will not be worth it. The worth of the instrument is only if it is being played - honestly!

A friend of mine met a famous violinist who had a very old Stradivarius violin. The violinist had retired and the friend asked if she could see her instrument. The violinist responded - I sold the violin! A Strad needs to be played and heard!

If you have an instrument please donate it to a good cause!

Instruments as Stage Props
by: Diane

I had an old clarinet that I played ages ago in school band. When I found out the pads were dried out and it wasn't worth fixing I was sad to hear that. Then a friend who is in community theater said why not give it to the theater for a stage prop? Somewhere, sometime, a play took place with a living room or child's room with the clarinet in it.

how to organize and store sheet music?
by: Nancy

I have scads of music books for piano, plus lots of sheet music and things I put on cardboard to play for church. They are all in a cabinet with lots of other things and in drawers also with other things. I am sure I have too much but cannot seem to tackle it. My piano bench is not a container, just a seat. I don't know how to organize it or where to put it for convenience. HELP and thanks.

My cat got into my organ and peed.
by: Sparkleygal

I have an older Lowry organ that I play occasionally, however, it brings back memories of happier times when I played with groups, in churches, or with my ex. Much as I love it, I just can't seem to get pleasure out of playing anymore. It is not the same playing alone for no one to enjoy except me. My problem is I have a male cat who got a UTI and managed to get inside the organ and pee. He peed in a couple of other places in the house as well, however with the peroxide solution I was able to clean the area pretty well and it seems fine. I am a senior and every day it gets harder to let things go. I find it is more work than I can handle because of injuries and don't have funds to hire a bunch of people to come in and help, so I stagnate. I don't know if I can open the back of the organ to disinfect inside, but truly, my energy levels are such that I ask, why not just take it to the dump? The cat was having issues with outside feral cats always around and then got the infection from poor food. I am stuck. I have downsized a lot, but not sure if the effort of flea markets or garage sales are worth what it takes out of me except for bigger items in good condition. Have to keep going because eventually I will have to move but energy levels are draining with this but I need funds out of what I can rescue to sell. Any suggestions? I doubt anyone would want an organ with a pet odor attached. Are there any agencies that do this for seniors in Canada that don't rob one blind?

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