Part 3: The Style of Music YOU Want to Play

Anne Beck
September 6, 2022
Female music teacher playing acoustic guitar with her young teenage girl student also playing acoustic guitar during holiday recitals

When beginning music lessons, determining the style of music you want to play is another important step to ensuring the best learning experience. Since there is such a large variety of musical options in today's world, knowing your favorite type of music can not only help you find the right teacher for your needs but may also influence your choice of instrument. Certain instruments, such as piano and voice, are extremely versatile and cover many musical styles, but other instruments are oriented more toward some musical styles than others. You can find a short list of popular instruments and their musical uses earlier in this series. Check out the following list for a short description of some musical styles you might enjoy learning:


Classical music contains a large variety of styles and composers from different time periods. Many of these composers you will likely recognize, at least in name: Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Tchaikovsky, and Chopin, to name just a few. Classical styles are especially good for students who are hoping to develop very proficient musical skills and be able to sight-read and play complex pieces. Students who begin with Classical music often make the transition into other musical styles easily as well. Classical musicians frequently play instruments such as piano or strings, but many vocalists and some guitarists are classically trained as well.

Musical Theater / Opera

Opera and Musical Theater are branches of Classical vocal styles that many vocalists enjoy. Most classically trained vocalists will learn well-known arias as part of their training; some talented and dedicated singers may go on to perform in opera productions. Music theater is often more influenced by modern musical styles, but it retains a performative story-telling element, like opera. Music Theater songs are a great place for younger students to start, since they are often familiar and easier to learn. Young vocal students who also enjoy acting or performing in groups may be involved in musical theater groups or school chorus or theater programs, which can be a great way to incorporate private vocal lessons into a broader learning and performance experience.


Pop and Rock are the musical styles that most people listen to frequently and are likely to be most familiar with. These range from classic 20th century rock and pop songs that are still well-known today, to current artists and their music. Pop styles are a favorite among many aspiring young vocalists, while classic and modern rock is popular among drum and guitar students. Pop and Rock styles for instruments usually require students to focus more on rhythm and chord progressions, and less on complex sight-reading. For vocalists, there will be techniques unique to these styles that are very different from Classical vocal training. Pianists and even violinists might play solo covers of pop or rock songs, but these styles are less tailored to strings and piano unless they are part of a band. If Rock or Pop styles of music are your preference, consider taking guitar, drums or voice with a focus in pop styles.JazzJazz is a well-known musical style full of complex harmonies, swing and syncopated rhythms, and blue notes. It developed out of ragtime and blues styles in the early 20th century, mainly among African-American musicians, and it involves a great deal of improvisation, so Jazz might be particularly enjoyable for students who like to create their own music. Many jazz musicians play wind instruments such as saxophone or trumpet, but others are commonly pianists, guitarists and singers. Jazz music has unique musical standards and theory applications that students might learn to become more proficient at playing and improvising within this style, so if your dream is to play Jazz, you will want to find a teacher who is familiar with these unique musical and improvisational techniques. For more information on Jazz styles, check out this site:


Folk music involves traditional styles of music that usually originated in rural areas or particular cultural heritages and were passed down from one generation to another. Celtic, Country, Bluegrass, and Rap are a few styles of folk music that remain well-known and popular in America today, but this genre contains many different styles that vary in popularity in different parts of the world. Folk music is often played and sung with or for others in a relaxed setting, and its focus tends to be more on the human connection formed by making and enjoying music together, and not so much on technical expertise or professional performance. Some styles pair with dance as well. Most folk music is played on string or wind instruments such as violin (known as a fiddle in folk music), guitar, ukulele, whistle, and flute. Many folk musicians also sing; others join folk bands where they can perform with other instruments. If you enjoy the experience of making music with others, or performing as background music in relaxed social settings, consider learning some folk styles.

Film Scores

While not technically a musical style or genre, film scores and soundtrack songs are popular musical repertoire among many students. Often students who train in another musical style enjoy learning covers of their favorite film scores for fun and a different type of challenge. These arrangements can range from simple to complex; some students like to learn by ear or improvise their own versions of favorite themes. You may not find a teacher who specializes in teaching songs from movies, but a teacher who focuses on another style might be willing to allow opportunities for you to learn these too! Soundtrack themes and songs cover a broad range of musical styles, so no matter what instrument you play or what style you focus on, there is likely to be something for you!Now that you've had a brief introduction to different musical styles, what type of music would YOU like to learn to play? Check out The Music Studio Atlanta to see if we offer lesson and teacher options in the style of music you want to learn!

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Anne Beck
September 6, 2022