So you’ve decided you want to learn to play a musical instrument. You may now be asking yourself what do I do next? In the following article I will provide advice regarding how to choose your instrument and how to go about learning to play it. Regardless of the instrument you choose there will always be resources to help you learn.
The First Big Decision!
Which one do I choose?
What Instrument do I like?
Well as you may have figured out by now the sky is the limit. There are hundreds and hundreds of instruments to choose from and now you have some research to do. To get started you can learn about the four families of the orchestra here or explore instruments beyond the orchestra here. While doing that initial research here are some things to think about.
- What kind of music do I like? What types of instruments are found in your particular genre of choice?
- How much money am I willing to spend? If your budget is limited you may want to investigate the general cost associated with each instrument.
- What do they sound like? Search YouTube for videos of people playing instruments either in an ensemble or as a solo instrument.
- How much space do I have for storage? Pianos for example take up a considerable amount of space. Thus, you may have to determine if you are happy with owning a keyboard (I own a keyboard and absolutely love it. Easy to move and sounds fabulous).
- Will I want to transport the instrument on a regular basis? Some instruments can be quite difficult to move around. Drum sets, for instance, have several pieces. Your own transportation is an absolute must.
- Where do I plan to play this instrument? Will you be playing for personal enjoyment or with others in a band? If you want to play in a rock band they may not need a bassoon player. A concert band or orchestra, on the other hand, may be begging for a bassoonist.
You made the choice and are now ready to make the first investment in your new instrument. Once again you will need to do some research. I strongly advice against purchasing the first one you find, whether it is brand new or used. There is no right way to purchase an instrument but you should keep the following in mind:
- First and most importantly, what is my budget? Guitars can range in price from $50 to $1000+. Just starting out you will not need the most expensive one on the market but you do want to make sure that it will be reliable.
- Does it have a warranty? What does it cover? How long does it last.
- Is it brand new or used? Used musical instruments are great for beginners and even experienced musicians but you really need to make sure that it has been cared for. (My flugalhorn was used but was a fantastic addition to my collection). There are many places to find used instruments. eBay is a great place to start searching but make sure to get advice from an experienced buyer and ensure that the option to return it is available before making the purchase.
- Also, make sure to purchase all the necessary equipment and cleaners. Guitars for example may need picks. Many brass instruments require valve oil and slide grease. Woodwinds such as the clarinet and saxophone require a reed to play it. Good research will help make this process much easier.
The Final Decision As A Beginner
By now you have decided what instrument you want to play and have made your first purchase. Now What?
Well Now its time to decide how you are going to learn to play the instrument sitting in front of you. Once again you are faced with a decision and many choices. There is no right decision. The final decision will be based on what you think is the most logical and suitable method for you. Listed below you will find some ways that you can learn to play an instrument.
Quite often you will find a person within your area who teaches private lessons. These lessons can range in price depending on how much experience the instructor has. They also vary in length but they are commonly half an hour to one hour long and occur once a week. This is a great option for people who are visual learners as your instructor can demonstrate on his/hers instrument. This is also a great option if you have little to no experience with reading music notation. Reading music is an extremely important part of playing an instrument.
There are many books out there dedicated to learning how to play an instrument. There are literally thousands out there for the guitar alone. This is a great option if you like to read and want to take your time learning.
There are many options for learning to play an instrument online. You may decide to sign up for video instruction. In this case the instructor has created videos that the learner can follow. There are also instructors who offer live instruction using a webcam. One may also choose to download a app that is dedicated to learning an instrument. Follow the links below to see some of my suggestions for online instruction.
Depending on the instrument you have chosen, you may choose to teach yourself. YouTube is a wonderful place to find tutorials posted by experienced musicians. However, it may be difficult to find one that follows a set order for learning an instrument.
As you can see there are many ways to acquire musical instruction. Even more then I have listed here. Your job is to pick the one that best suits you. I will caution that choosing a method that doesn’t include an instructor could lead to improper playing technique. It is always a good idea to check in with an experienced player to ensure you are not making mistakes that could hinder your progress in the future. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions or concerns.
All that’s left to say is Good Luck and Have Fun! You will not regret your choice.