Learning an instrument should be fun! How to pick an instrument to play, however, can sometimes be a challenge. Being creative is part of being human, so we all want to play. Learning an instrument will help us develop skills, get smarter, create happiness, build self-esteem and improve quality of life. Many adults can be intimidated by learning a new instrument, but it’s easier than you think! The question is, which instrument should you start with?
What kind of music do you like?
Consider the music you love to listen to when choosing an instrument. 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 Bill Joel or piano concertos, consider piano!
What is your budget?
Unfortunately, budget may be a factor in your consideration. Pianos are extremely expensive, but keyboards can often be a great substitute at a fraction of the cost. Digital pianos are not cheap but a 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 the investment of 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, but purchasing may break the bank. 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.
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? 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 keep them in the closet. Drums may take up as much space as a piano, but are far more portable. They can be broken down and moved piecemeal. While not as portable and easy to move as a guitar or flute, it’s certainly easier that a piano!
Do you have physical limitations?
All instruments will require different physical demands. 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 life or lifestyle best. There are great options if you prefer to sit, stand, or have limited use of your hands or feet.
What are you goals?
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 tends to be more prominent members 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!
Pick what you love. Love what you pick.
At the end of the day, the love of music will trump all. If you’re 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. Head off to a music store and try a few instruments to see what feels best. Learning an instrument takes time and requires patience. Have fun with it!