Learning an instrument is fun, but many adults can be intimidated by the idea of deciding where to start. The first step in learning how to play music is deciding what instrument you want to play. This may sound daunting, but it’s actually easier than you think! Being creative is part of being human, we all want to express that creativity. In addition to providing a creative outlet, learning an instrument helps us develop new skills, refine our critical thinking, create happiness, build self-esteem, and improve our quality of life. So when it comes to the big question of “which instrument should I pick?” or “which instrument is the easiest to learn?” there are a few things to consider when making your selection.
What kind of music do you like? Picking an instrument that you’ll want to play
To find the instrument that is right for you, consider the music you love to listen to. The instrument should be an extension of what you naturally hear. Playing your favorite songs will inspire you to practice. If your musical tastes focus around classic rock or heavy metal, guitar is probably your best bet. If you really love to listen to folk rock, you may do well with acoustic guitar. If you listen to chamber music, strings are likely the way to go. And if you can’t get enough Billy Joel or piano concertos, consider piano!
What is your budget? Cost considerations when picking an instrument
Budget is often a factor to be considered when selecting an instrument to play. For example, while pianos can be fairly expensive, keyboards can be a good entry-level substitute at a fraction of the cost. Digital pianos, while still more on the costly side, are still often more affordable and another great alternative to acoustic pianos. Here are some examples of pianos and keyboards that may fit your budget.
Acoustic guitars are relatively inexpensive compared to electric guitars. Don’t forget, electric guitars will require some additional investment for an amplifier as well. Prices can range dramatically when factoring materials and manufacturing. But there are plenty of beginner guitar models that are great to get started with.
Violins, viola, and cellos are great to rent at first, while purchasing one is very costly. The same goes for woodwinds. Renting is an inexpensive way to get started with an instrument from the wind, brass, or string family.
Consider space and portability when selecting an instrument to learn
Do you want to play in your bedroom or are you looking to fill a large space in your living room? Would you like to be able to take your instrument to your friend’s house for a jam session? Making sure you consider all the key things you need for successful music practice is important to make the most of your lessons. These questions should be answered before picking your instrument.
It probably goes without saying that pianos are not very portable. Pianos weigh thousands of pounds, require special movers to transport, and will take up significant space in your home. Singers, by contrast, don’t have an instrument that takes up any space!
Guitars, violins, and saxophones all have relative portability and are lightweight by comparison. You can store them under your bed when you’re not playing them or keep them in the closet. Drums may take up as much space as a piano, but are far more portable. Drums can be broken down and moved piecemeal. While not as portable and easy to move as a guitar or flute, it’s certainly easier than a piano!
Consider any physical limitations when choosing an instrument to learn
All instruments will require different physical demands so it’s a good idea to do some research to have a good understanding of what is required to play them. Some, like upright bass or marimba, require you to stand. The strings on an upright bass are heavy and require significant muscle strength to play. Instruments like drums require all your limbs in order to execute the skills.
Beyond simply plucking, bowing or strumming, woodwinds require significant breath support. If you have physical limitations, you may wish to consider what instrument might suit your lifestyle best. There are great options if you prefer to sit, stand, or have limited use of your hands or feet.
What are the goals for your music lessons?
Do you want to play in a band? Do you want to be the leader of the band or be in the spotlight? How much time and practice can you commit to this endeavor?
Folk instruments are generally the best bet if you wish to be in a band. Keyboard, guitar, bass, and drums are great options and can fast track you to play with groups. If you want to be the leader of the band, vocals and guitar tend to be more prominent than other rhythm section members. If you want the spotlight, instruments that take more solos, including singing, will put you at the forefront.
Practice time should influence your decision. If your time is extremely limited, learning chords on guitar or picking up a simple rhythm instrument like djembe is a great choice. If you have a lot of time to invest, lead guitar, classical piano, violin, and drums could be really rewarding!
Choosing the right instrument for you: Pick what you love. Love what you pick.
At the end of the day, the love of music will trump all. If you don’t love it, it’s likely your zeal will fade. Whether you wish to read music or just learn a few tunes, options are endless. Music is a beautiful part of life, and we can express ourselves through a number of channels. Learning an instrument takes time and requires patience. Having the support and guidance of a teacher can make a difference with your journey to learn. We have the resources for you to get started, have fun with it!