For my younger (still-growing) students, I typically recommend that parents rent the fractional size instruments, as most music shops offer an option to trade in the instrument for a larger one as the child grows. Alexandria Music Company offers a great rental program. (Full disclosure: I teach there.) Once a student is ready for a full-size violin, the best option is to purchase a nice-sounding fiddle rather than rent. In the DC area, we are fortunate to have several wonderful shops with great sounding instruments at reasonable prices. Brobst Violin Shop, Foxes Music, Lashof Violins, and Potter Violin Company, and Day Violins all offer an excellent selection. Trying and buying a violin, viola or cello is something that must be done in person and not over the internet. The player needs to experience the sound and feel of each instrument, because they all feel different! Visit one of these locally owned shops if you are in the market for a rental or purchase!