That moment when you decide to not just listen to your favorite music but to pick up an instrument and begin your journey of making music on your own is a wonderful and yet also imposing occasion. Your first musical instrument! It might seem like a near-impossible choice to make, but we are here to help. We have made a thorough list of top tips you need to read before you choose your first instrument. Once you do, you’ll have a much smoother time picking up an instrument that you’ll feel confident in and playing music with all your heart. Without further ado, let us dive in!
What kind of music – and instruments – are you interested in?
This probably seems obvious but knowing what instrument you would like to play in the first place can seem incredibly daunting. For most of us, we may already have an interest in certain instruments: electric guitar, drums, piano, violin – some of the classic instruments that you have likely heard in music growing up. However, the wonderful thing about learning an instrument is there is no wrong way to start. Learn acoustic guitar, learn the trumpet, learn the theremin if you would like! If you are interested in learning to read sheet music, the piano can also be an excellent choice to pick up that skill as well. You know best the kind of music you love and the sounds that appeal to you most. If you are not interested in a certain kind of instrument or music, do not force yourself to play it – you will be fighting an uphill battle to learn it.
What is your budget?
Your budget probably factors in your choice a lot more than you would like to admit, but that does not mean you need to look only for the most expensive instruments out there. A lot of smaller size and less complicated instruments, like the ukulele, can start at between $30 and $50, while you may be looking at over $100 for a decent guitar set or a brass instrument like a trumpet. Bearing that in mind, there are beginner’s kits that can offer a good deal on getting both an instrument and other ancillary items you’ll want to pick up, such as a case, spare picks, maintenance supplies, and more. There is also the option of buying your instruments used, but the danger there is in purchasing an inferior instrument that may not have been well taken care of, or even damaged. That initial price may seem attractive but could lead to more headaches (and more hits to your wallet) down the line if your instrument barely lasts you a few weeks.
Do you have the space to keep it?
Given the incredible variety of instruments available to learn, it is no surprise they come in all shapes and sizes. If you are looking to start learning one to play, it is best to be mindful of the amount of space you will have to perform. For most people, instruments like the guitar, the trumpet, or the ukulele are small enough and portable enough to keep in a closet or under the bed when in their case, and can easily be carried by one person. Attempting something larger like a drum set or a piano comes with needing enough space to play and store the instrument and attempting to move these is likely a multi-person endeavor. If you are short on space, starting with a more conveniently sized instrument can make the learning process much more relaxing and satisfying.
Do you want to travel with it?
There is also a different kind of concern with having enough space - if you plan on traveling and taking your instrument with you, some are much better suited to carrying around than others. A ukulele and trumpet can easily be carried by hand in the case, while a larger guitar or banjo may need some dedicated storage space but can still be brought along by one person. If traveling by car, this isn't as big an issue, but air travel will likely require treating a larger instrument as checked luggage. If you have the kind of lifestyle that keeps you traveling all the time, it is worth it to consider an instrument that can be packed easily alongside a duffel bag. If the purpose of travel IS your music, then be prepared to deal with extra costs and storage requirements that come with larger instrument sets.
Do you like to sing along when listening to music?
We’re willing to bet that the answer to this question is a resounding yes (especially on long car rides when your favorite song is on the radio) but what it means for choosing your first instrument is more important. Many instruments, like the guitar and piano, allow you to both perform music and sing at the same time. Just as many, however, like the trumpet or flute, will preclude you from singing by their nature. We’re not saying you should avoid instruments like the guitar if you don’t like to sing or are shy, only that if you are passionate about being able to sing alongside the music you are making then you should choose accordingly.
Do you have the time to learn it?
This is likely something you have already thought a little bit about before deciding if you would like to learn an instrument, but it does matter a great deal. Every instrument is going to feel difficult to learn at the outset and will require your investment of time and not just your money if you desire to truly excel at it. If you’re looking to practice an instrument with others such as in an orchestra or in the garage with your buddies, can you commit to a regular schedule that allows you to practice and perform and hone your skills? Some instruments have a smaller difficulty curve which can make it easier to learn when your free time is less predictable or in smaller bites – the ukulele and rhythm guitar make for great instruments just to pick up and play when you’d like, while others will require more dedicated hours. No matter what your schedule, be prepared to put in the time and have reasonable expectations about your progress. Once you start playing regularly, you will be amazed at how much that hard work pays off.
Do you have any physical difficulties or issues?
This isn’t as much of an obstacle as it may have been in the past, given that many instruments can be modified or adapted to so that playing them isn’t as much a physical challenge, but it is something to bear in mind. If you have issues with your fingers or elbows, brass and wind instruments may be uncomfortable for you. If weight could be a problem, you may want to steer clear of heavier instruments like the French horn and look more to something like the ukulele or kalimba drums.
And lastly, keep an open mind and a positive attitude!
Learning an instrument for the first time, at any age, can feel daunting. If you have passion for music and your instrument, and you’re willing to remain positive throughout the process, there’s no limit to how good you can become or to how much joy playing an instrument can bring. It is never too late to start learning, and by following our tips you can be confident that whatever you decide to pick up, you’ll have a great time. When you are ready to make your choice, head on over to ashthorpe.com and browse our selection of top-quality instruments at affordable prices to find the fit that is best for you.