It is never to learn a musical instrument—even if you don’t know what to play (French version available)
By: Julia Skoczypiec
Have you ever wanted to learn how to play a musical instrument but do not know where to start? Studies show that approximately 74% of adults have (at least once in their lifetime) learned how to play at least one. It may seem intimidating at first, but choosing a musical instrument is ultimately a fun and life changing experience. Below are some tips and questions to take into consideration before you venture off to your local music store.
- Learn about the various families of instruments. Each instrument can be categorized based on one of four families: woodwinds, brass, percussion, and strings. Knowing about the different types that belong in each family will teach you about their unique sounds, their difficulty levels, and the styles of music that these instruments are often used in.
- Know your favourite music genres. Look at the songs that you stream or open your favourite online playlists. What music styles do you notice? While there are over 75 music genres that are considered on the “top charts,” the instruments and sounds used in each genre vary. Maybe you are someone with a playlist full of classic rock songs full of gripping electric guitar? Or maybe you prefer ballads that feature somber piano tones? Paying attention to the instruments used in your favourite songs will help you to identify what speaks to you.
- Consider your practice space. As the cliché goes, “practice makes perfect.” To master a musical instrument, you must spend time at home to learn it. Unfortunately, not every instrument is ideal for every living space. Larger and louder instruments, such as a drum kit, saxophone, and trumpet often create lots of resonance and may not be ideal for apartment living. On the contrary, ukuleles, guitars, and keyboards are ideal for smaller spaces—especially since some amplifiers can use headphones!
- Determine your preferred size and weight. Instruments come in a wide array of shapes, sizes, and weights. For someone of smaller stature, playing something large and heavy instrument—like a stand-up bass for example—may become extra difficult. In addition, some instruments are easily transportable while others are not. Are you thinking of taking your keyboard to grandma and grandpa’s house to show off your skills? Or perhaps you have a camping trip coming up and you want to play some guitar tunes around the fire? The size and weight of the instrument you choose should make you comfortable and should match your lifestyle.
- Think about your budget. Some instruments, like ukuleles, harmonicas, melodicas, and kazoos, can be found for under $50. Others, like guitars, basses and keyboards, range between $100-$1,000 for beginner level models. Generally, when starting out, you do not need to pick the most expensive or “highest quality” instrument on the shelf, but still be sure to do some research on the many brands available.
- Be mindful of the maintenance needed. Depending on the type of instrument you choose, you must take into consideration the proper ways to take care of it. For example, a guitar will need its strings changed when they break or start sounding dull—this can be as often as every month, but it all depends on how much you play. Make sure that you learn the proper maintenance techniques for your instrument to ensure your investment stays in great condition!