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Access to instruments

Access to instruments is an instrument hire scheme created by Hertfordshire Music Service (HMS), supported by Hertfordshire County Council and partially funded by the Department for Education through Arts Council England.

Purchasing a musical instrument can be a considerable investment. As young people begin their musical journey, you can expect for them to quickly ‘grow out’ of their instrument, at the detriment of their learning experience. In other cases, a young person who had begun to learn one instrument may wish to explore another. These present significant challenges for young people to engage and experience making music.

As part of our ‘Musical Voices’ vision, we are fully committed to removing as many of these barriers to make music accessible, affordable, and as inclusive as possible.

Access to Instruments is our updated instrument hire scheme and available from the academic year 23/24. By signing up to the scheme you aren’t simply accessing an instrument, but gaining access to the wide selection of instruments that HMS has to offer.



How does it work?

Customers can apply online.

Shortly after we have received your application, a member of our Instrument Team will be in touch to confirm whether your chosen instrument is in stock.

If an instrument is available, you shall be sent a digital hire agreement through Docusign. At this time, your first charge will be added to your account.

Following the return of your signed digital hire agreement, a member of our Instrument Team will be in touch to confirm next steps. Collection will be available from one of our Music Centres.

When you arrive to collect your instrument, please show a member of Reception your confirmation of receipt from Docusign. We will then be able to handover your hired instrument. 

Who can apply for the scheme?

The scheme is eligible to residents of Hertfordshire, or those engaged in musical activities based in Hertfordshire.

How much does it cost?

The termly fee for any instrument is £28.00 per term.

This fee is payable in advance of each academic term for the duration of the hire period. Hirers are required to make their first payment before they are able to collect the instrument.

Any hire starting part-way through an academic term will still incur a full termly fee. All fees are subject to adjustment by Herts Music Service with at least one term’s notice. You can find additional information on fees in our Access to Instruments Terms & Conditions.

If you have any further questions please contact the Instrument Team at

What instruments are available?

The scheme offers access to a wide range of instruments. Once your application is received a member of our Instrument Team will be in touch to confirm whether your chosen instrument is available.

Examples of instruments we currently stock include, but are not limited to:








Mini Bassoon

Short Reach Bassoon

Full Size Bassoon





French horn

Tenor horn



Baritone Horn






Double Bass


Digital Drumkit

Digital Piano

Electric Guitar
Electric Bass Acoustic Guitar



Is there a deposit?

No. Access to Instruments is charged per term, without the need for a deposit.

What size instrument do I need?

A member of the Instrument Team will recommend an instrument size depending on your or your child’s age. If you already have a preferred size let us know and we’ll confirm whether an instrument is available for you.

My child doesn’t receive tuition from HMS – can I still use this scheme?

Yes. The scheme is available to all who apply.

My child begins lessons next week – when can we pick up an instrument?

We aim to confirm availability within ten working days of application and will be in contact to arrange collection shortly after. 

We cannot make our arranged collection time - can we just turn up the next day?

Collection is arranged to ensure staff availability and to avoid congestion during busy periods. We cannot guarantee your instrument will be available outside of these hours. If you need to reschedule your collection time, please email the HMS Instrument Team. 

I collected my instrument halfway through a term. Is there a discount?

Unfortunately not. Hires starting part-way through an academic term will still be charged the full termly fee.

Do you offer instrument insurance?

No. However, we strongly recommend insuring the instrument, and included accessories, to cover potential damage, loss, or theft during the hire period. Examples of musical Instrument Insurance providers include: Allianz, musicGuard and Lark Music. Please note: HMS does not currently endorse any insurance providers.

What happens if my hire instrument is damaged, lost or stolen?

You are responsible for the entire cost of replacement or repair of the instruments & accessories during the hire. We strongly recommend insuring your instrument. If you need any help you can contact the Instrument Team at with the subject line “Insurance”, or by post,. More information regarding damage, loss or theft, or your responsibilities during the hire can be found in the Terms & Conditions.

Can I change instrument?

Of course! Contact the Instrument Team at with the subject line “Change Instrument”, or by post, and we will arrange another instrument for your collection.

I want to end my hire and return my instrument. What do I do?

Contact the Instrument Team at with the subject line “End”, or by post, no less than two weeks before the end of term. Contacting us after this period may lead to charges continuing for an additional term. A member of the team will be in touch shortly after with next steps.

We would like to end our hire agreement - can we leave the instrument at our child’s school/music centre?

Once we receive notification of your decision, we will arrange an appropriate return of your instrument. Please do not leave your instrument without confirmation from the HMS Instrument as you will still be liable for the instrument and may be charged for it’s loss. 

I’ve returned my instrument. Now what?

Once you have contacted the Instrument Team with your intention to end your hire, and the instrument has been returned to HMS, a member of the Instrument Team will inspect the instrument for damage, fair wear & tear excepted.

If an instrument requires repair or replacement, you will remain responsible for this entire cost. If a consumable hasn’t been replaced, you will be charged a one-off fee of £15.00. Following this inspection, the Instrument Team shall be in contact to notify of any further charges or confirm the conclusion of your hire period.