With so many wonderful musical instruments just waiting for you to pick them up, how do you choose your first? Thankfully, you don’t have to choose just one, but it’s important to start with an instrument that you can be successful with. If you don’t already know which one you’d like to try first, here are a few tips to get you heading in the right direction.
Watch and listen to a variety of music
To achieve the “Ah-ha!” moment of “I want to do THAT,” students should attend concerts, watch YouTube videos, and see live music in action whenever possible. Exposing ourselves to possibilities allows us to recognize what we are drawn to.
Keep in mind that when we just listen to music it’s hard to pull apart the individual sounds. We may love a song but can’t define why. That’s why watching music performances is so important! Seeing a guitar player in action or a drummer on stage allows us to visualize ourselves doing the same thing. Watching well-done videos (like the Piano Guys) is a fun way to get inspired.
What size are you?
Different instruments, believe it or not, require different physical anatomy. For example, to play the trombone, you need long arms. At first, it may be difficult for a young child (under age nine) to press down the strings of a guitar, but a ukulele may be precisely the right fit.
Most kids will love starting with piano to learn the basics of music, rhythm, and reading music in a fast, rewarding way. But never force a child to play piano – that’s no fun for student or teacher!
Likewise, the violin is considered difficult to play (because it takes time to achieve a beautiful tone), but determined students should not be deterred from this gorgeous instrument.
If you’re still unsure which instrument “fits” you or your child, having a consultation lesson with a teacher is a great place to begin. You can feel the instrument in your hands, ask questions, and get the teacher’s opinion. Or take a lesson in several different instruments!
What’s your learning style?
You could be a visual learner, which means you like to see things written down to remember them, so pictures and graphs could really help you understand concepts. With this style of learning, the piano is a great instrument to start with as the keys are laid out in order, and the music could be like a giant graph that is easy to read.
Others might be very mathematical and strategic. Their strong “thinking brains” easily grasp the guitar or ukulele, whose strings are laid out in a very different pattern from the piano and have different tuning possibilities. Because they are auditory learners, they can grasp their teacher’s instructions quickly and easily.
Many students love music and play different instruments, but they may never become “professional” musicians. That’s okay! Playing music is a wonderful hobby and should be an activity that brings fun and enjoyment, no matter the student’s level.
If you love music, just start … somewhere!
We may have brief moments when we glimpse “clues” as to what we are meant to do. If we take notice of these moments, we can put those clues together and see clearly what we should run to. So don’t worry if things are still foggy. If you love music, just start somewhere. Anywhere. You can always change your mind later, but getting started is the most important decision you’ll ever make!
Contact us to learn more about lessons at The Music Studio Atlanta. For in-home music lessons, visit Courtnayandrowe.com.
Author Cecilia Rowe is the founder and director of the Music Studio Atlanta and director of Courtnay and Rowe. She has over 25 years in music education as an instructor and local business owner.