Have you decided to explore the world of music? If so, you might be asking, “what instrument should I learn to play?” Learning how to play an instrument is one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences, whether you’re 5 or 50 years old!
With so many options to choose from, starting from scratch can feel overwhelming. But, it doesn’t have to! In this article, we’ll share some of the most popular instruments to help you decide which one to start with. From easy to advanced choices and versatile to affordable options – there’s something for everyone.
First, take this fun and helpful quiz that pairs you up with an instrument that matches your personality, preferences, and goals!
What Instrument Should I Learn?
There are many great options when it comes to which instrument to learn. Let’s take a look at this quick list of options, then, we’ll dive into more details about each one!
- Piano: a smart choice
- Guitar: a popular choice
- Violin: a challenging choice
- Ukulele: a simple choice
- Drums: a fun choice
- Recorder: a fast choice
- Mandolin: an interesting choice
- French Horn: a powerful choice
- Tuba: a grown-up’s choice
- Cello: a classical music lover’s choice
- Flute: a beautiful choice
- Saxophone: a versatile choice
- Clarinet: an affordable choice
Piano: A Smart Choice
Arguably the most versatile instrument on the planet, the piano is an excellent option for creating inspiring music.
One significant advantage of this instrument is the layout of the keys. The keyboard is a near-perfect mirror of the steps needed to understand music theory, and this is why we’ve dubbed piano “the smart choice.”
The piano is an excellent instrument for adults and children. Students of any age or background can learn how to produce tones on the piano within just a few minutes. However, it can take years to master more advanced piano skills, so working with a teacher is the best way to improve your skills.
Guitar: A Popular Choice
Electric, acoustic, and classical guitar – there are so many options! Each instrument is unique and better suits the needs of different students.
No matter how old you are, playing the guitar is an absolute blast. After a month or two, students typically learn to master chords and scales, but it usually takes a lot of practice to master the instrument’s more virtuosic capabilities like fingerpicking, arpeggios, and soloing.
The electric guitar is the best choice for younger students because its strings are easier to play than acoustic or classical guitars. Keep in mind, though, that you’ll need an amplifier to go with it.
You may also be interested in: Top 10 Most Unique Instruments to Learn
Violin: A Challenging Choice
The violin can produce some of the world’s most achingly gorgeous music, but it’s an instrument that can take many years to master.
The violin is similar to the guitar except that there are no frets, making learning more challenging. But even with its challenges, the right violin teacher can help students of any age navigate this incredible instrument over time.
If you’re interested in picking up the violin, give yourself six months to a year to master some of its basic concepts. The violin requires patience and persistence. You might not sound like Joshua Bell or Antonio Vivaldi right away, but practice makes perfect!
Drums: A Fun Choice
Have you asked yourself, ‘what instrument should I learn that’s loud and expressive?’ If so, drums are perfect for you. Drums come in all shapes and sizes, but most sets have a snare, bass drum, hi-hat, and toms.
Do Buddy Rich, Ringo Starr, and Keith Moon inspire you? Listening to some of music’s famous drummers before deciding which instrument you should learn is a good idea.
It can take a few months of practice on the drums to produce solid and discernible beats. The drums aren’t too difficult to learn, but you’ll definitely want to work with an experienced drum teacher to ensure that you’re learning the correct technique.
Recorder: A Fast Choice
Are you looking for something fun and quick to learn? A recorder is an ideal option! While the style of a recorder makes it easy for small children’s fingers to control, adults also enjoy learning to play the recorder.
While learning to play the recorder certainly won’t require a ton of time and effort, it doesn’t have to just be for fun! Even Vivaldi’s concerts featured recorder solos.
Are you looking to inspire your little one to practice playing an instrument? Read about 13 effective ways to motivate your child to practice music.
Ukulele: A Simple Choice
The ukulele might just be the friendliest instrument to learn on the planet, but that’s not the only reason you should consider playing it. Ukuleles are inexpensive, portable, and cheery-sounding instruments that are perfect for creative songwriters.
Amanda Palmer and Israel Kamakawiwo’ole are a few well-known uke musicians, but thousands of artists worldwide play this fun instrument. The only real downside of the ukulele is that its sounds and dynamics are minimal.
If you’re looking for a fantastic starter instrument for kids, the uke is the best choice available, hands down. Kids can learn how to play simple chords on the ukulele within a week or two.
Mandolin: An Interesting Choice
If you’re looking for a unique instrument that’s not too difficult to learn, the mandolin is a great choice. What makes the mandolin easier to learn than other instruments is that it has fewer strings and it’s simpler to read the sheet music.
Unlike playing instruments like the guitar, learning to play the mandolin doesn’t require as many difficult techniques like fingerpicking and strumming. There are also several styles of mandolins, so you can pick the one that works best for what you’re interested in playing. For example, an F or A style is best for playing bluegrass music, while a ‘bowl backed’ mandolin is good for playing classical music.
If you’re looking to learn an instrument that’s interesting enough to impress a crowd, you’ll enjoy playing the mandolin. It’s even compact and lightweight making it easy to take on the go.
French Horn: A Powerful Choice
Are you intrigued by the idea of playing a super loud instrument? Then, the french horn is worth checking out! Best of all, it’s one of the only portable instruments that’s this powerful.
A french horn is a wind instrument meant for playing classical music. There’s no question that it’ll allow you to stand out in a crowd!
While learning to play the french horn may sound exciting, it’s important to know that it’s one of the most difficult brass instruments to play! Make sure you’re motivated and eager to learn.
Tuba: A Grown-Up’s Choice
Because a tuba is so large and requires a lot of air to be played, it’s more suited for adults. If you want to increase your lung capacity to master playing the tuba, deep breathing exercises are great for this. With that said, you should enjoy playing the tuba as long as you have a normal lung capacity.
Do you enjoy orchestra and jazz music? If so, you’ll love the styles of music played on the tuba. Once you get going, the tuba is a reasonably straightforward instrument to learn.
While regularly practicing your skills can allow you to play very well, it always helps to work with a skilled instructor to learn how to play like a pro!
Cello: A Classical Music Lover’s Choice
We often hear the cello played in orchestras, pop, and rock. Do you enjoy classical music or like the idea of being able to play it? If so, then you may want to try the cello out.
This large stringed instrument makes robust notes as you play with a bow or plucked with your fingers. It takes time and dedication to learn how to play so don’t expect instant gratification. If you put in the time, it’s an instrument that anyone can learn.
While many adults enjoy learning to play the cello, it’s an excellent instrument for young children. This is because they’re often eager to put in the required effort and young minds learn fast! If you’re ready to become an excellent cello player, make sure you practice as often as possible!
Flute: A Beautiful Choice
Wondering ‘what instrument should I learn that sounds beautiful?’ You should definitely consider the flute! The flute creates a unique sound that’s amazing to hear. The best part is that you can play various tunes from classical and folk to jazz and funk.
If you have time to practice and the patience to put in the effort, you’ll enjoy mastering your flute-playing skills. It takes finger skills, but they aren’t too challenging to learn.
Little ones can start with a recorder first. And, of course, taking flute lessons is a great way to master the skill while having fun doing it.
Saxophone: A Versatile Choice
If you’re looking for an instrument that can play a lot of different sounds, you may enjoy learning to play the saxophone. There are several types of saxophones, including tenor, soprano, and alto. And, as you play, you can create various sounds for different genres.
It’s important to know that while you can usually create a sound right away, it takes dedication to play the saxophone well. It does help that the fingering positions are simpler than some other instruments. However, be sure to have realistic expectations when going into this new skill.
If you’re looking to master an instrument within a week or even a month, the saxophone may not be your best choice. But, if you take time and even work with a teacher, you’ll find that the skills you can learn and various sounds you can make are well worth the effort!
Clarinet: An Affordable Choice
The clarinet is an affordable instrument that’s fairly easy to learn. This makes it a great choice for those on a budget and/or new to the world of playing instruments. The best part? The clarinet plays beautiful notes!
Various clarinet options make different sounds. The clarinet can play classical and jazz music nicely. It plays warm, full sounds that aren’t as raspy as the saxophone.
While playing the clarinet is quite simple, it does take effort to play well. Eager to play like Benny Goodman, the King of Swing? Practice everyday and take lessons with a professional clarinet instructor!
Enjoy Learning to Play a New Instrument!
We hope this article and quiz helped you answer the question “what instrument should I learn to play?” If you need more help choosing the right instrument for you, try sampling a few beginner-level lessons for several different instruments before committing to just one.
Check out TakeLessons Live where you can take FREE classes in each of these instruments for 30 days!
Guest Post Author: Patrick McGuire is a writer, musician, and educator. He records and performs music under the name, Straight White Teeth.