When I told my 7th grade band director I wanted to play the bassoon (who knows why I would say something like that) I was handed a plastic thing that would probably sell for $100 in any pawn shop. It slowly became something I loved, of course, but I didn't love it any more than anything else initially, so in that regard its worth matched its price. Through high school I moved up to a wooden Miraphone (not a bad horn, actually) and that instrument led me to my true love of music. In college (University of Memphis) I played a loaner for a few years, until I put enough of my pennies together and bought one of my own. I still remember how excited I was when the UPS man drove up and said "You been waitin' to jam, huh?". Clearly UPS delivery people know what's in every box they deliver - better not ship anything you don't want people to know about! Anyway, that Fox model 220 (named Todd, after the old English word for Fox) got me through the latter years of my undergrad, into USC, and even through a pretty good performance of "The Rite of Spring". Having this instrument was worth so much to me, that I thought it was the last thing I'd have to buy as far as instruments...
...and then there was Judy, my teacher here at USC. Don't get me wrong - I'm glad she pushed me into upgrading, but I wasn't happy about it at first. It was after that performance of "The Rite of Spring" when she thought it was a good time for me to switch to the school's 10,000 series Heckel. It was great to learn and to play an instrument whose value was very high, but I felt no personal attachment, so despite the price, it's worth to me was low. Desires to have my own instrument again grew, so I began shopping around. I understand that most bassoonists think that Heckel is THE bassoon, but what can I say, I like buying American. After months of searching (and saving) I found a buyer for my student model 220 and bought the professional model 201 I have now. I've named it Rudo, which is an African name meaning love. My love of God, music, and Andy drive me, so I thought it was an appropriate name. The MSRP on this horn is pretty high, but I most fortunately got a pretty good deal. It plays great; I think this bassoon is "the one".
I'll be living a little less extravagantly for a little while, but it was worth it, and that's what matters. What I'm driving at is just that: sometimes in life we have to understand the price vs. worth relationship of things and make sure it's balanced. Maybe you feel bad for getting those $500 pair of jeans, but if it's worth it to you, go for it! On the other hand, the macaroni painting a son brings home for his mother is priceless. So on your next big (or small) purchase, examine your P v. W and see what you think. Who knows - I may decide that I need to upgrade and spend even more money on a bassoon, but that cheap, plastic Bundy I started on in 7th grade is what started it all for me, so as far as I'm concerned that instrument has more worth than anything I could ever buy in the future.
Listening to: Material Girl - Madonna