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The 10+ Easiest Instruments to Learn for Adults

July 26, 2023

The 10+ Easiest Instruments to Learn for Adults

Interested in music, but nervous about getting started? That’s why we’ve compiled a list of easy-to-learn musical instruments for adults. It’s a common misconception that learning to play a musical instrument as an adult is too difficult, if not impossible.

Yet the myth that you need to pursue music lessons early in life has kept many people from exploring their musical skills. The good news is that it’s never too late to learn! In fact, there are many advantages to learning music as an adult.

These can include mental, social, and even physical benefits. If you’re not sure where to start, here are five of the easiest musical instruments to learn for adults.

So what’s the easiest instrument to learn? In this post, we’ll tell you all about the easiest instruments to learn!

What is the Easiest Instrument to Learn to Play?

What is the easiest musical instrument to play? It varies based on your skill level, background, and preferences, but if you’re looking for the easiest instrument to learn for adults, this list is a great place to start:

  • Ukulele
  • Harmonica 
  • Bongos
  • Piano
  • Glockenspiel 
  • Guitar
  • Banjo
  • Drums 
  • Recorder
  • Violin 

Before you get started with learning any of these simple musical instruments, make sure you brush up on your music theory! Here’s a quick video that can help you get started:

What Are the Ten Easiest Instruments to Learn?

Some easy musical instruments to learn are the ukulele, harmonica, bongos, piano, and glockenspiel. Learning these instruments as an adult will be straightforward and accessible, and we’ve included step-by-step tips for each below.

1. Ukulele

Inexpensive to buy and super fun to play, the ukulele is one of the best string instrument to learn and is one of the most accessible out there.

With just four nylon strings (instead of the guitar’s six), you can quickly pick up simple chords and play some of your favorite songs in just a few weeks. You’ll also be able to gain many fundamental skills that make it easier if you ever want to graduate from the ukulele to the guitar.

The uke may be small, but it can still pack a punch. With just a handful of chords, you’ll be able to play some of your favorite tunes and start a sing-along with your friends.

Ukulele can be used to play music in just about any genre; from blues to singer-songwriter. It only takes a few lessons to get down the basics of a ukulele, and many people find that pressing down the strings on a ukulele is a lot easier than it is with a steel-string guitar.

Why learn the ukulele?

  • Affordable: you can get a great quality instrument for under $100
  • Portable: so you can carry it around with you when you travel, or take it to the park
  • Easy: it doesn’t require the same finger strength as a guitar
  • Versatile: you can play just about any song with just a few chords 
  • Introduction to strings: this is the easiest string instrument to learn for beginners, too

2. Harmonica

Be it blues, jazz, rock, folk, or country music, the harmonica (also known as the “Blues Harp”) is a great choice for adult beginners. You don’t need to know a lot in order to start playing, and it has a big advantage that any note will be “in key” — it’s hard to sound bad on harmonica!

Plus, harmonicas are very portable — you can carry and practice harmonica anywhere and anytime. Whether you want to blow the folk-style harp like Bob Dylan or explore the nuances of jazz and blues like Toots Thielemans, you can work on your skills no matter where you are!

Why learn harmonica?

  • Portable: you can literally tuck this instrument in your pocket
  • Social: this is an instrument you can use to join in just about any jam
  • Style-Specific: if you love blues and jazz, this is the instrument for you!

3. Bongos

If you’re a fan of salsa, the bongos might be your calling. Bongos originated in Cuba and consist of two conjoined drums. It’s a simpler option than a full drum kit but can provide the same satisfying percussive experience.

It’s fun to bang on the bongos, even without any technical knowledge. Although difficult to master, these drums are one of the easiest instruments to learn the basics on. 

The best part of learning bongos is that they are truly social instruments. Learning to play this instrument means joining a drum circle, being part of a salsa band, or just jamming with friends.

As an added bonus, learning to play the bongos gives you enhanced rhythm skills which you can use on other instruments. 

Why learn bongos?

  • Rhythm: learning a percussion instrument like the bongo improves your rhythm, which is a skill you’ll use when expanding your musical skill set to other instruments
  • Social: every band needs a drummer, and having excellent rhythm can make you a sought-after member of any group
  • Portable: bongos are easy to carry in the back of your car or under your arm
  • Kid-friendly: this is the easiest instrument to learn for a child, too!

4. Piano

The piano may seem complicated — after all, you need to learn to coordinate both hands at once — but it’s actually one of the easiest musical instruments to learn for adults.

Learning to play piano lays the foundation for learning other instruments. When you learn to read piano sheet music, you are gaining the skills to read music on just about any other Western instrument.

And furthermore, the musical terms and concepts learned in piano lessons are universal terms that will help you as a musician later on.

Because the notes are all laid out in front of you on the piano, it’s easier to understand than many other instruments. And although you can play wrong notes, you can’t ever play out of tune the way you can with other instruments.

That is to say, you don’t need to worry about intonation as you do with instruments like the violin. Moreover, due to its popularity, you’ll have no shortage of useful learning materials when you choose the piano as your instrument!

Why learn piano?

  • Useful: knowing how to play piano and read sheet music is considered one of the most useful skills to learn as a musician, because it enhances coordination and improves your music theory skills which will lay a foundation for a lifetime of musical success
  • Versatile: you can play just about any style of music on the piano, from pop to rock and classical
  • Beautiful: there are few sounds as captivating as a piano, and learning to play will keep you occupied for hours

5. Glockenspiel

You might recognize the glockenspiel (pronounced “glock-ench-peel”) from your elementary school music classes or if you were ever enrolled in a Kindermusik class. It looks a lot like a smaller version of a xylophone, but instead of having wooden bars, its bars are made of metal, producing a bright and cheery sound.

The glockenspiel is a great way for you to get in touch with your inner child and your inner musician.

Even better, glockenspiels are commonly used in marching bands, and so by learning this instrument, you can join a community of musicians in a local marching or other band.

A great way to meet new friends and grow your community.

Why learn glockenspiel?

  • Social: a perfect instrument to add to a band or marching band setting
  • Versatile: glockenspiel is used in many different styles of music, from marching band repertoire to orchestral, and even some rock songs
  • Easy: glockenspiel is considered one of the simplest instruments to learn
  • Useful: glockenspiel gives you a solid foundation in music theory, helping you learn rhythm, pitch, and understand the layout of the Western scale. This is a useful skill if you decide to play an instrument like the piano later on

6. Guitar

The guitar is a bit more versatile than the ukulele and also more substantial. Learning how to play the six-string acoustic guitar is a great choice if you want something that’s easy for adults.

Not only are guitars easy to find in stores, but you can also keep challenging yourself with different variations as you get better. Master this instrument and you can graduate to an electric guitar or a 12-string guitar. 

Picking up beginner guitar chords is simple, and while it does require some finger dexterity, it’s not too challenging. 

7. Banjo

Another easiest instrument to learn to play is the banjo. It’s similar to the guitar, with not quite as many strings as a guitar but more than a ukulele.

You can pick up a few simple chords and master all kinds of easy songs as a beginner. More complicated banjo solos can take more time to master, but it shouldn’t take you long before you can start jamming along to all of your favorite bluegrass tunes. 

8. Drums

We already mentioned the bongos as the easiest musical instrument to learn but they aren’t the only kinds of percussion instruments that deserve mention. All kinds of percussion instruments are fun and not too challenging.

You will need to develop some “independence” in your limbs, and, of course, this is a loud instrument, to say the least (probably not the best to introduce to your budding five-year-old musician child!). That said, learning how to master the basic rock beat on the drums shouldn’t take you too long. 

9. Recorder

For children, the recorder is the easiest instrument to learn for a child play by far. That’s why it’s so prevalent in schools!

It serves as a great introduction to rhythm, creative thinking, and music theory. It is simple at its core, with no bow, strings, reeds, or anything else – you just blow! These instruments are also small, making them great for tiny, nimble fingers. 

10. Violin

The violin is last on our list because although it’s not technically the easiest instrument to learn, it’s well worth the effort. In fact, as we’ll tell you below, the violin is often hailed as the hardest instrument to learn. Wow!

Children tend to have a harder time with the violin than adults do, so it’s not the easiest instrument to learn for a child, but it’s still a good instrument for beginners. It’s small and lightweight – and with some time and practice, you’ll eventually learn how to play the violin without all the screeching noises you’re used to hearing!

Easiest Instruments to Learn: Broken Down By Category

One of the biggest struggles beginners face is picking the right instrument to learn. With so many options, it can be difficult to know where to start. 

Fortunately, we’ve broken down the easiest instruments to learn by category to make your decision easier. So if the list of the easiest instruments to learn from above didn’t do the trick, here are some more options to consider. 

What is the Easiest Brass Instrument to Learn?

The easiest brass instrument to learn is the trombone. Its slide mechanism makes it easier to learn than other brass instruments, such as the trumpet. Plus, the trombone has fewer keys to master, making it an excellent choice for beginners. 

What is the Easiest Wind Instrument to Learn?

The easiest wind instrument to learn is the harmonica. It is a very small instrument that fits easily in your pocket, making it portable and easy to practice with. Additionally, the harmonica requires minimal breath control which can be very helpful for beginners. 

What is the Easiest Musical Instrument to Learn for Percussion?

The easiest percussion instrument to learn is the tambourine. It is a shallow, hand-held drum with small metal disks on the side that create a jingling sound when shaken. The tambourine is great for beginners because it is easy to hold, requires minimal skill, and can easily fit into different genres of music.

What is the Easiest String Instrument to Learn?

The easiest string instrument to learn is the ukulele. It has only four strings, which are much easier to manage than the twelve on a guitar. The ukulele is also portable and lightweight, making it easy to take with you wherever you go.

What is the #1 Hardest Instrument to Learn?

What is the hardest musical instrument to play? When deciding which instrument to learn how to play, instead of asking yourself, “What’s the easiest instrument to play?” you might want to consider your musical goals. 

No instrument is out of reach, and an instrument that is challenging for a friend might not be as difficult for you.

You’ll want to consider your background, how much time you have available, whether you want to learn how to read music, and what kind of music you enjoy listening to in the first place!

With that said, the violin is often considered one of the most challenging instruments to learn, along with the French horn, organ, bagpipes, and accordion.

Learn How to Play a Musical Instrument Today

Learning how to play a musical instrument as an adult isn’t as intimidating as it sounds. There are dozens of instruments out there that are simple and easy to get started with. And while the options listed above may be some of the easiest instruments to learn, there’s no need to limit yourself!

This point is illustrated beautifully by the story of the 100-year-old woman who looked back on her life and said, “I wish I started playing piano when I was 60… I’d have 40 years of experience by now!”

Whatever instrument you choose, excelling at music will eventually feel easy and natural, just as long as you’re genuinely engaged in your lessons and have a dedicated teacher who will nurture your inner musicality along the way.

Thankfully, it’s easier than ever to connect with the perfect music teacher online. No matter where in the world your ideal teacher may be, you can find them on TakeLessons.

Ready to get started with achieving your musical goals? Check out the music teachers at TakeLessons and start