Music is one of the things that has been with humankind since the beginning of civilization. Some indicators of the oldest cultures in the world have been the presence of musical instruments. From ancient drums to flutes and whistles and even horns, the ability to create sound and music from objects has always been with us, and will always continue to be. Music is everywhere, from the ringtone on your phone to what you have playing in your car as you drive to work, or in the background of any movie. We often take music for granted because it saturates the fabric of our lives.
The best thing about music is it is very accessible to just about anyone, though beginning to learn how to play a musical instrument can be intimidating. Many who are interested in creating and playing music themselves might not know where to begin. Music is a language, and like any second language, starting young is easier, but you are never too old to learn how to play!
Plenty of musical instruments are pretty simple to learn how to play, and can open up an entire undiscovered world of creativity, expression, emotion, and social networking that you never imagined before. There are many more reasons to learn how to play a musical instrument than excuses not to open that world up to yourself. Let's look at a few reasons to get interested in playing music, instead of just being a spectator. Then we can explore some easy to learn instruments that will get you on your way!
Benefits of playing an instrument
- Music is expressive: Music is often used to tell a story and can be done without the limitation of spoken language. The sounds and rhythms and harmonies in music allow the player to express themselves in new ways.
- Playing music rewires pathways in your brain: Music relies on repetition, rules, and different ways to bend and shape those rules. This is like candy to the brain, which can be close to the ways that the mind loves to solve puzzles and figure out solutions to problems.
- Enhances memory: Studies have shown that playing music activates areas of the brain that sharpen your long and short term memory.
- Music is a social gateway: Music can be played alone, but it often draws together other musicians. At the very least, playing music will draw those who enjoy listening to music and open up all sorts of possibilities for meeting people, making friends, and enjoying social situations.
- Music is therapeutic: If you listen to music when you are sad, or thoughtful, or enjoying a moment, playing music is exponentially more satisfying. There is something about being a part of the music that is difficult to explain, but unmistakable to recognize once you are there.
- Can improve math skills: The technical aspect of music doesn't need to be mastered to appreciate it, and on a subconscious level, your brain will understand patterns of music, from how time is kept to the way notes and octaves are constructed. Math will become second nature with enough musical experience.
- Motor skills and coordination: Getting your fingers, and mouth, and even your breath and heart rate to coordinate while playing an instrument is a challenge, but with practice comes mastery. Being in control of your body is crucial to playing an instrument well, and music is a driving force in making that happen!
10 Easy to Learn instruments for beginners
- Recorder: You might have been introduced to this variety of flute in the fourth or fifth grade. If playing Hot Cross Buns or Mary Had a Little Lamb was the extent of your work on this instrument, you should know that is one of the oldest types of flute in existence. Playing the recorder gives you an understanding of finger placement, breath, and how to be consistent to make your quality of sound better.
- Violin: One of the smallest of the stringed instruments, the violin has been around for hundreds of years. It has four strings and is played with a horsehair bow that is run across the strings. Finger placement to change the notes is perhaps the most challenging part, as there are no frets, and good posture is key to good playing. But from Chopin to Appalachian folk music, the violin is welcome at many tables.
- Ukalele: With four strings and just a few chords to start you off, Ukaleles are portable, versatile, and easy to learn. They are a welcome part of social gatherings, or just sitting at home and strumming out a tune. Ukaleles have become a welcome addition to singer/songwriter types and are fun to play!
- Harmonica: Not seen around as much in recent years, the harmonica was once a staple of folk music, rock and roll, and the go to instrument for lonely campfires under the stars. Harmonicas can be solemn or jovial instruments, but an entire world of sound can be carried around in your shirt pocket, ready to play a tune whenever the mood strikes. Easy to carry, easy to maintain, and always in tune, the harmonica is often overlooked, but never really left us.
- Guitar: An extremely versatile instrument with so many varieties, the guitar has become a staple in garage bands, swing music, blues, jazz, classical music, and all points in between for years. The first electric guitar was made in 1931 and allows for different ways of expression with pedals, amps, and other equipment, while acoustic guitars are as at home in a house party as they are a night on the trail during a week long backpacking trip; and they don't need a power outlet to play. With only a few chords, you can play your favorite rock song, or with years of practice you can achieve a degree of mastery and a lifelong love of the instrument.
- Piano: An essential percussion instrument to learn for any aspiring songwriter, the piano is relatively easy to learn since each key plays the note it is supposed to play. The piano uses the right and left hands to create chords with both the Bass and Treble scale, and outlines the ways notes are laid out and interact through the keyboard. With practice and instruction, pianos can bring people together with their sound, entertain the family, or allow you to create your own music!
- Trumpet: With just three keys, the power of your breath, and how well you can make the raspberry sound you can get started with playing the trumpet. The trumpet is also a great gateway instrument, since all the principles of scales, tone, and pitch are part of what you need to jump into other instruments. It could mean a lifetime commitment to this brass instrument, or the beginning of something great across the spectrum of playing music!
- Baritone: Similar to the trumpet, the baritone has a larger mouthpiece, which makes it a little easier to play. The same function of the three keys still applies, however the baritone works on the lower end of the musical scale with the Bass clef.
- Clarinet: One of the simpler woodwinds to play, the clarinet gives basics such as mouth placement, fingering, and consistency in tone which can jump to other instruments such as the saxophone, oboe, bassoon, and many others.
- Drums and percussion: Not just drum kits, cymbals, and triangles, drums are the heartbeat of just about any band. They establish tempo, rhythm, and fill out melodies with cadence and nuisances that no other instrument can provide. From melodic instruments such as xylophones and marimbas, to the deep visceral thud of a bass drum or tympani, drums like snare drums are extremely easy to learn how to play, yet very challenging to master.
Common questions when learning to play new instruments
How hard is it to learn to play a new instrument?
The answer is that like any new interest, there is going to be a learning curve. In the beginning, you will probably not sound like your favorite musical artist on the radio, but the good news is when they were starting out, they didn't sound like that either. Beginning is the hardest part of any endeavor, which is why starting off with an easy to learn instrument is less discouraging for a new learner than something more difficult.
How expensive is learning to play an instrument?
That can depend on the instrument, and certainly as much as you hope for a virtuoso performer, that very expensive bassoon might not have caught your young player's interest, and now sits in the attic gathering dust. There are plenty of less expensive options available to see if playing an instrument holds your interest, without bankrupting your family.
Let's get started!
Learning how to play an instrument can be a little challenging at first, but practice makes perfect (and it's also never too late to start learning). One of the best ways to learn how to play is with instruction. The best way to get mastery is through practice and pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone. Learning to play an instrument is like learning how to speak another language, and this comes with being immersed in the language for better fluency. The more you practice, the more it will become second nature!
Check out KK Music's selection of finely crafted instruments for beginner musicians! There is something for just about everyone thinking about entering this whole other world of expression, thought, and social interaction!