The Most Difficult Instrument

What is the most difficult instrument to play?

This is an interesting question to be sure, and one I hope to answer by the end of this hub. In order to answer it, I will briefly go over each section of instruments, and a few instruments in each section, explaining the differences between them and the differing difficulties they all have. I will say now that some instruments are easier to play for some people, so the answer to this question will not be the same for everyone. If you're interested, read on to discover which instrument, at least in my opinion, is generally the hardest to play.

Strings

These are arguably the most beautiful-sounding instruments, but can be quite difficult to master. Since this is the section I know least about, and cannot play any instruments from, I really don't know enough about them to adequately tell whether they are harder than other instruments. For now, we'll skip this section, but keep in mind it's quite possible that strings as a whole are the most difficult instrument to play. It's just that I don't know personally whether they are or not.

Winds & Woodwinds

I'll begin with winds and woodwinds, which are kind of in the same section, as both are considered winds. Woodwinds are part of the wind section, but all woodwind instruments actually require wood in addition to wind to make music (you never would have thought, huh?)

FLUTE / PICCOLO (Wind)

This instrument is probably the easiest to play in terms of the valves. It doesn't have quite as many valves as the clarinet, but it has more than the trumpet (which is a good thing as you'll see later). However, the difficulty in this instrument is the way in which you have to shape your lips in order to get a proper sound out. The flute (and the piccolo, a similar but smaller version of the flute) requires that you blow directly downwards into the opening while keeping your face and head level (yeah, there's a lip-twister for you.) Once you have this down, you also have to blow air at the correct speed, or you'll get the wrong tone. So, there's a bit of difficulty here, but anyone with the right mindset could probably pick up this instrument easily.

CLARINET / SAXOPHONE (Woodwind)

Yeah, I'm committing "saxrilege" by lumping these two instruments together, but to me there isn't much difference except for the tone and range of the instruments. They're both played pretty much the same way, and they both use single-reed mouthpieces. There's a bunch (and I mean a ton) of valves, switches, and buttons, all shaped differently and placed in various spots all over the instrument. So basically, the difficulty here is getting a grasp on the thing and figuring out where all your fingers go. Also the reed takes some preparation, you can't just play it dry and get a good sound. You actually have to suck on the reed for a few minutes before you play, just to get it wet so the tone doesn't sound scratchy and the reed doesn't break when it vibrates too hard. Once you get used to those things, however, it shouldn't be that difficult to play really well.

OBOE (Woodwind)

Now, this instrument can be a real booger to play. This is because unlike other woodwinds, it uses a double-reed mouthpiece. For those who can't picture this, instead of having a nice big reed against a piece of plastic with a thin space in between to vibrate, you've got two inscrutably tiny reeds against each other. This is not only horrendously difficult to get your mouth on properly, but then you've got to practice like crazy to get a good tone. Also the reeds break more often because, since both are flat, putting them against each other doesn't leave an air hole. They must be curved into kind of a football shape so there can be vibrations, which make the noise. Overall, the oboe is definitely one of the more difficult instruments.

Percussion

I know very little about drums and other percussion. I've played drums in Rock Band, but that doesn't really count, even though actual drummers have told me that the Rock Band drums are very realistic, aside from not being able to cross your hands.

What has always impressed me is the sheer variety of percussion instruments. Beyond your basic drum set, which in itself contains cymbals and suspended cymbals (two cymbals with open ends pressed together, attached to a foot pedal), snares, toms, and bass drum, there are countless other instruments which also fall into this category. Music without percussion is nice, but a really good beat just can't be beat!

I can't play any of them, so my hi hat's off to anyone with the uncanny sense of timing and multitasking ability to play percussion. If music's a sandwich, then percussion is the mayonnaise. You can eat a sandwich without it, but it's just missing something, it's a bit too dry. Sure mayonnaise may taste somewhat plain by itself, but when added to the sandwich, it truly makes it complete.

Brass

A brass instrument is one that is generally made of metal, but also that doesn't use a reed. Brass is also in the wind section, but I've put it in its own section because it's very different than the other instrument sections, for a number of reasons. Brass requires air to play, but the sound is not created by air vibrating or by wood vibrating. Your lips are what do the vibrating, which is kind of a buzzing sound without a trumpet, kind of a duck call sound with a mouthpiece, and a brilliant, warm tone with an instrument on the end of the mouthpiece. I have played trumpet for about 10 years, so high brass is the section that I know most about.

The main difficulty with most of the brass instruments is in the way they produce different pitches, which is completely different than other instruments. For instance, for every note a saxophone can produce, there is a unique fingering position, which is the layout of which buttons your fingers are pushing and which ones they're not. Brass doesn't work like that. Sure, you can play about 10 different notes using all combinations of the three valves on a trumpet, but then you're stuck because you've run out of valves, right? Not so. Brass instruments can (and must) play higher and lower pitches using the same fingering position by changing the tightness of the lips. I know it sounds strange but that's how it's done, and it's what makes brass instruments so difficult to play despite the small number of valve positions.

On each valve position, depending mostly on the range of the brass player, 2 to 5 different pitches can be produced by varying lip tightness. By "range of the brass player" I mean the physical fitness of that player's lips. When one first begins playing brass, it's nearly impossible to play very high pitches because the lips are yet not capable of making a tight enough shape, or are not strong enough to adequately maintain such a shape while a strong airstream is hurriedly going through them. The muscles that control your lips must be built up so that high notes can be sustained, which requires a great amount of lip control and air speed control. Only once your lips have some strength in them can you easily hit notes in the upper registers. This physical fitness of the lips can actually become a visible change. Any long-time brass player will begin to have a small protrusion of the upper lip, which is the main part that vibrates, so that the middle of your upper lip begins to form a "V" shape.

High Brass

TRUMPET / CORNET

Most trumpets or cornets have three valves, though very different than a French horn which also has three valves. The fingering chart is exactly the same for all of them, only the range is different. These have varying sized mouthpieces, which are used to better accommodate different lip sizes, which is important for comfortable playing and developing a good embouchure. My younger brother is a good example; he plays trumpet with a 1.5c size mouthpiece, which is about the largest one you can get for trumpet, because he has very big lips. I've noticed a substantial difference in his playing due to using the correct size mouthpiece. I've always used a 7c, and it never bothered me, so I'm sure it is close, if not the right size. There is also a rare piccolo trumpet with 4 valves, which is pitched an octave higher than the normal trumpet. A cornet is mostly the same as a trumpet but is a little smaller and is pitched in C instead of B flat.

Mid Brass

FRENCH HORN / MELLOPHONE

First off, the French horn has three valves just like the other brass instruments, but it is shaped very differently, in more of a spiral or shell rather than a loop. This produces a very different tone, and since french horns are pitched differently, they have a completely different fingering chart than the other instruments. Also, since there is less space in the instrument, the sheer volume produced is much louder than the other instruments, and the french horn player who does not wish to lose an arm trying to hold the thing up will place his other hand inside the bell (the large opening where the sound comes out) to help distribute the weight. Also, the french horn mouthpiece is of a very different design than the other brass instruments, which also contributes to its unique tone. This mouthpiece is much harder to buzz on and keep a stable note, which makes the French horn even more difficult to play. I will also mention that there is a double french horn with an extra thumb valve, giving a possible six valve positions rather than three. The mellophone is basically a marching-band version of the french horn. It's pitched the same, it sounds the same, it just looks different and is easier to play while marching than a french horn.

Low Brass

TROMBONE

This instrument is the one that, to me, seems to be the most difficult to play. I honestly do not understand how they do it. Sure there are trombones with valves, but they're cheaters. The real trombones use a slide, which has seven distinct positions (which are arbitrarily somewhere along the length of the thing). Each position functions the same as a valve position on another instrument, but the difference is that the player must memorize the positions rather than just being able to push down a valve and be sure that the right note will come out. Combine this with the already-difficult brass mouthpiece and the extremely wide range of the trombone, and you've got yourself in a lot of trouble. You have my true admiration should you be among the skillful few who are able to play trombone well.

BARITONE / EUPHONIUM / TUBA

The bigger lips you have, the better suited you'd be for a lower-range instrument, because your lips will naturally vibrate slower and produce much more air, which is necessary to play tuba, euphonium, or baritone well. Trumpets are better for those with small lips, although there are varying sizes of mouthpieces that enable some degree of freedom.

Other Instruments Worth Mentioning

GUITAR

Yeah, I know I skipped over this in the strings section, but guitar in particular seems to me really difficult. I'm pretty good at Guitar Hero myself, but when it comes to a real guitar all I can play are some basic chords and melodies, nothing too grand. Guitar players have my true respect.

PIANO

This is an instrument which I have just recently picked up, and I've only played it for about a year. However, I can say that this instrument has been the most enjoyable for me to learn. You see, with trumpet, the parts you have to practice are written to sound good with the inclusion of a larger band, and because of this, practicing by one's lonesome sounds awful at best. Sure there are solos you can learn, but still, it doesn't really give you much enjoyment unless you're playing with a band. Piano is different. Although it works great as an accompaning instrument, it sounds good by itself too, and this makes it a lot of fun to practice. I thought the hardest part of learning piano was going to be learning to do different things with both hands at the same time, and I was absolutely right. It's horrendously difficult at first, but after practice, you just get used to it. It's a part of the instrument. Once you play that first piece of music that contains two different melodies at the same time, you begin to gain confidence that you might just have potential at learning piano.

HARMONICA

I think this instrument sounds splendid when you come across a really skilled harmonica player who uses tonguing to cover up certain holes on the harmonica, which allows for more control over chords and makes them sound a lot better. It is such a neat little instrument because you blow outwards (into the harmonica) to get a certain set of notes, which are all third intervals from each other (meaning there is one note in between them). Then when you breathe inwards (the air is leaving the harmonica) you get all those other notes that were in between. This makes chords very easy to do, because you just blow one way into more than one hole and you get a chord. So to go up the scale, you blow into hole one, then you suck air from hole one, then you blow into hole two, and suck air from hole two, and so on.

Now, the really neat thing is that the seventh & octave hole is reversed. This means that you suck out to get the seventh note of the scale, and blow into it to get the octave note (the same note as the first note you played but eight notes higher, which is called an octave). What does this mean? Well, a major triad chord has the notes 1, 3, and 5, and 8 adds the octave. So when you blow into any four adjacent holes, this is the exact chord you get because the 7/8 hole is reversed! Isn't that nifty?

ACCORDION

Unless your name is Weird Al Yankovic, this will probably be a very difficult instrument. For one thing, it's extremely uncommon, and its sound is a lot different than other instruments. It doesn't fit well into any of the other categories, which makes it very unique. I do know that there are two rows of buttons on this thing, one of which is just a small electronic keyboard that you can use for chords. The other set of round buttons is used for playing notes on the accordion itself. To produce sound, you pull outwards slowly and when it gets too long you begin pushing inwards, and while you're doing so (apparently, the direction DOES matter, I recently found out, similar to a harmonica) you push down the round buttons to play music. Some accordians have another row of round buttons instead of a keyboard, though I'm not sure how those work. The accordion is a difficult and interesting instrument, to say the least.

KAZOO / CASTANETTES

No, I'm not actually including these, I just thought it might give you a laugh. I might add that it would theoretically be possible to play both at once, but how difficult, I'm not sure.

TONGUE HARP

Ha ha ha ha. Okay, I'll stop now.

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Comments 122 comments

AsianSwan 8 years ago from God's Earth

Wow, thanks for all the info. I happen to play violin and piano, so this hub told me virtually everything I didn't know about the other types of musical instruments. Thanks a lot!


MrMarmalade profile image

MrMarmalade 8 years ago from Sydney

Thanks for filling in lots of information, I was not aware of


Cybermouse profile image

Cybermouse 8 years ago from Bentonville, AR Author

Thanks for the comments, I'm glad my hub helped out.


helenathegreat profile image

helenathegreat 8 years ago from Manhattan

The pipe organ is the most complicated instrument to play, I think.


Cybermouse profile image

Cybermouse 8 years ago from Bentonville, AR Author

Ah, yes, that would indeed be quite difficult. Don't you have to pump the air yourself with a pedal or something like that? That would definitely make it harder than piano. Thanks for the insight!


sunkentreasure profile image

sunkentreasure 8 years ago

Dear Cybermouse

I would love to hear you play trumpet and piano.

Cybermouse, you have a beautiful gift of touching people's lives with your music.

The love and passion that you have for music comes over very strongly in your brilliant exciting Hub.

Please write some more about music.

Not only have you educated us...you've also entertained us!

With Gratitude

Kind Regards

Bernard Levine


Cybermouse profile image

Cybermouse 8 years ago from Bentonville, AR Author

Thank you again for your kind words, my friend. Unfortunately, I have no recordings of any piano music I have played, and also no recordings of me playing trumpet solo. However, this semester in college, the jazz band I play trumpet in will be recording an album, and I'd be only too happy to send you a free copy by mail or internet, whichever works better for you. As far as piano goes, you could listen to my piano compositions if you wish, although I'm not nearly as skilled on the piano and I can't actually play them yet. If you'd like to hear them anyway, you can go to www.ilike.com and search my artist name (Cybermouse) and listen to or download the mp3's for my compositions. I can't play them yet but my computer can! And I'm glad you enjoyed my hub.


spacebull profile image

spacebull 8 years ago from Space

This was extensive and informative :)


hooper 8 years ago

What about the bag-pipe? That is considered to be the hardest instruments to play in the world.


Cybermouse profile image

Cybermouse 8 years ago from Bentonville, AR Author

spacebull--Thanks!

hooper--True, but I know almost nothing about the bag-pipe. I was focusing on instruments that I am familiar with. I have never even seen a bag pipe in real life, and I don't even know how they work. Thanks for mentioning it, though--I'm sure you are right! I bet it is the most difficult instrument of all.


xyz 7 years ago

very informative apart from one fact:

i have played the horn for 7 years and french horn players don't put their hands inside the bell to muffle the noise, they do it to hold up the instrument as it is quite heavy!

thanks :)


Cybermouse profile image

Cybermouse 7 years ago from Bentonville, AR Author

Ah, interesting. Thanks for clearing that up!


Blech 7 years ago

Modern organs don't require the player to pump the air themselves. But the organ is still a lot more difficult than the piano. There are 32 pedals, and the music has three staves - one for each hand and one for the feet. Choosing the right stops is also difficult, as every instrument is different.


Veej 7 years ago

Another instrument you might be interested in looking at is the small yet powerful ocarina, which I talk about in my hub: http://hubpages.com/entertainment/The-Ocarina

And don't forget one of the most portable and difficult instruments to learn ever: the human voice!


Cybermouse profile image

Cybermouse 7 years ago from Bentonville, AR Author

Veej--How true! Thanks for mentioning those instruments. The voice is definitely an important one which I neglected to mention. Although I'm no singer, it's probably the instrument I have used the most.


macuzza 7 years ago

I'm sorry but I have to disagree with the drumset bit there. I think you'd be hard pressed to find something more difficult than latin jazz on a drumset. It's easy to be a novice drumset player - playing typical boring rock beats. Anything past that and it gets exponentially more difficult.


Cybermouse profile image

Cybermouse 7 years ago from Bentonville, AR Author

macuzza--How very true, that is an excellent point. Perhaps this goes to show how underappreciated good drummers truly are. As you said boring, typical beats are so easy to play that when a really good player comes along, he has little chance to really shine and show off his true skill, especially in modern music. Apparently I have seen very few talented drummers in my musical career; this would not surprise me.


macuzza 7 years ago

You are spot on with that. I get asked all the time "hey can you play that beat from (insert popular song here) by (insert popular band here)". I always think to myself: Wow..really?? People actually think this drummer is talented??? I think the problem is that people see drummers that just pound and think that's what makes a good drummer (when in fact it's the exact opposite). Drummers also have a rep in general for being terrible musicians - believe me, there are some of us out here that are serious about our craft! :) I think it goes hand in hand with people's perception of drums being easy - people that aren't really interested in music but want to be in a band pick up drums because it's "ez and girlz like drummers", hence our reputation as musicians just continuing to decline. If you want to see how complex drums can be check this out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmykCWMPWvE

Playing something like that takes a lifetime of dedication.


Alveana 7 years ago

Hello, that's a really interesting article you got there, thanks for posting it ^^. I was interested in beginning the accordian, but I have quite a few questions about them. For one thing, I can't seem to even find one to buy. Every time I visit Renassance Music, they never have them. Do you have to buy them off the internet because of their rareness? And, what are the buttons on the side of the accodian do?

I'm thinking of buying an accordian and playing it in band :D


Brady 7 years ago

There is no "Most Diffifult" instrument. I was about to say "In my opinion" but it's not my opinion....

Every single instrument, including vocals, the kazoo, and even the bass guitar (a lot of people think it's easy) are all the hardest to play. No instrument has a max amount of skill. EVERY instrument can be more and more and more and more (x3,382 (random #)) perfected; you can never be too good.

Secondly, every instrument is just as hard to play as the others. Like... In RPG terms, if you played trumpet at level 1 it would sound crappy, and same with guitar. But once your level increased it would sound better and be harder to play. And if maybe trumpet is more hard to play than guitar for the average person, then it is just a skill to play 2 notes on the trumpet as it is to play 3 (smoke on the water... is actually 4 but he he) notes on the guiteeer.

Catch my drift?


Cybermouse profile image

Cybermouse 7 years ago from Bentonville, AR Author

Brady, when you say "there is no most difficult instrument," this truly IS your opinion. And when I say that there is one, it is also my own opinion. Whether or not there is an objective most difficult instrument is nearly impossible to determine, because the very nature of instruments is subjective. Person A might excel more at guitar than Person B because he has stronger hands and fingers, but person B might excel more than Person A at drums because he has a better sense of rhythm and hand-eye coordination. There will always be an inescapable self-bias that shows up in my writing, no matter how hard I work to disguise it. It shows up even more blatantly in subjective topics like music, so try to keep this in mind as you attempt to argue against my opinion.

Also, I find it humorous that you think playing kazoo is no easier than playing trombone. If you claim that all instruments are the same difficulty, then part of that claim is that playing kazoo is no easier than playing trombone. I happen to disagree.


Jeff 7 years ago

Should we really argue about this? Can't we just appreciate and love the music? The true beauty of every instrument is that you can make it as difficult as you want, it doesn't really matter what instrument you're playing.


Cybermouse profile image

Cybermouse 7 years ago from Bentonville, AR Author

Excellent point, Jeff. That was my exact reason for writing this hub. Perhaps I should have disabled comments altogether, eh?


meggie 7 years ago

i think that all instruments have their own levels of difficulty. There may be some that are harder than others, but every player and every instrument should be respected because they all have their own talents and abilities. Its not one person/instrument that makes up a band, its everyone. I thought that this hub was very helpful in learning about different people's opinions of instruments, though. Also, since i am a brass player, i understand that you can be biased towards brass instuments sometimes. I also wanted to add the fact that the mellophone has different fingerings than a french horn which makes switching from marching to concert season the hardest part of playing a french horn to me.


Marie!)#* 7 years ago

HEYYYY i play the french horn and i think it is really hard! i have played the harp piano and oboe before and def. think the french horn HAS to be the hardest. as mentioned before the fingering is one of the hardest for me because in different octaves the fingering for each note can be different. so that is where most of my confusion comes from. so 'In my opinion' i think the french horn has to be the hardest instrument to play

thanks for this amazing hub i read it all and it filled me in on all the intruments i didn't know about it was very helpful to me!!!!!


Black Ace profile image

Black Ace 7 years ago

Dude the trumpet isn't too bad. It's just getting the rythems and the high notes that throw you off a whole lot. Once, in marching band, i had to do an optional (when it says optional, it mostly means 'have to') shake-ON THE HIGH, HIGH C!!!! And i'm a middle schooler. Ughh, it was so hard, and you know what song it was-Hot Hot Hot. "Feelin' Hot Hot Hot!"

Marie-They french horn is basically the hardest instrument to play, because every small movement you make with your lips can effect your air and sound. I understand too.


Caleb B.  7 years ago

i thank you very much cybermouse 4 posting this hub it has helped me quite a bit although a lot of people disagree, you may have been a bit wrong on a few instruments but apart from that i found this quite educational


Cybermouse profile image

Cybermouse 7 years ago from Bentonville, AR Author

Caleb, I'm glad you got something out of my hub, as that was its only purpose. I knew when I wrote it that I had a few instruments wrong; after all, I can only play three of them, two of which I'm not too great at.


opuskrocus 6 years ago

1st to 'Cyber': You were (2yrs ago) illadvised to be writing such a page as this due to your limited musical experience and I find your information very subjective; however, I do respect the conviction to your text and openness to other's beliefs. This is the first site I've come across where the author is still active after 2yrs - kudos! Next, before I opine I have a trumpet question which I believe you ARE informed enough to answer. On the 3-valve trumpet there are eight standard valve positions (including no valves depressed) but are there any notes played where one or more valves are partially depressed simultaneously? In other words, can notes only be played when the valves are fully pressed or untouched?. This question determines difficulty in an instrument. What about the [valveless] bugle- this would seem even harder than the trombone to learn?

-Anyway... I wondered what was the hardest instrument to play, but soonafter, researching the question morphed to "What is the hardest instrument to MASTER"? After 4hrs. reviewing on multiple sites/sources spewed out by ASK.com, there where 7 instruments which continuously appeared as "hardest" to play, learn or master. They are in NO particular order: Violin, Oboe, Bassoon, French Horn, Harp, Piano and one's Voice. My research also turned up several instruments which I'd never heard of before, one of which is called the "theremin". You have got to do a search on Youtube to see and hear this instrument. Difficult to play? You decide. Has to be the only musical instrument where there is zero contact with anything (including air guitar).


Cybermouse profile image

Cybermouse 6 years ago from Bentonville, AR Author

opuskrockus, to answer your question, no, there are no notes that involve the valves being partially held down. That chokes the air flow and is used a little in quick jazz techniques such as glissandos, turns, and vibrato, but doesn't sound too great when you actually try to hold out a note with one or more valves held down partially. All notes are supposed to be played with valves either all the way up or down.

In regards to your comments about the other instruments, the theremin does look fascinating. It may just be the hardest instrument to play.

I find it interesting that you think I was ill-advised to write this hub. First of all, I stated very clearly that I do not play very many instruments and also that this hub is my own opinion, and therefore subjective. I was very aware of my limited musical experience, as you put it. Second, for three years my college roommate was a music education major, and my current roommate is also a music education major. To say that I've lived for three and a half years around music education majors and not learned a thing about music from them would be an outright lie. Perhaps my musical experience isn't as limited as what you thought. What do you know about my musical experience? You've never met me. So I think it was rather ill-advised of you to make such a comment.


Lollyz10 6 years ago

Hi :) your hub pages are really cool and have helped me a lot. I think that bagpipes is definatly one of the hardest instruments to play as you have to do so many things at once while playing them and it takes A LOT of breath lol, but it is very good for asthma as playing them has nearly completely alleviated my asthma, hard to play, but the most fun of all. (well.. if your a person who actually likes bagpipes lol, i had one complaint today at school for practicing in one of the music rooms next door to a violinist, who got quite stropy because they were aparently "too loud" the rooms were quite but not completely sound proof :P)


Jake 6 years ago

U forgot the bassoon


Loren 6 years ago

Hello. Thanks for the info. I play the Clarinet, Trombone, Saxophone, Piano, and Bassoon. They are all difficult in their own way. Not one of them is easier or harder than another.


classicalgeek profile image

classicalgeek 6 years ago

What you are describing as an accordion is, in fact, a melodeon. An accordion has a piano-like keyboard.

Strings people find difficult because of the problems of coordinating the bow and the fingering, and because there are no set pitches on the fingerboard, so being off by a millimeter in where you place your fingers will make you sharp or flat on the pitch--not to mention the physical discomfort of playing violin or viola.

(I myself sing, play all keyboard instruments and all upper string instruments, as well as accordion and melodeon. Most of this I do in private, a few things I do professionally.)


andrew 6 years ago

i've recently bought an accordion and been learning and practicing it.

the left side with all of the buttons is the bass side. there is a "button accordion" with buttons like the bass side also on the right side. there is also a "piano accordion" which set up exactly like a piano.

now on most piano accordions, the "stradella" system is used. i'd suggest wikipedia for a simple image of how all the buttons are located. on the most common stradella system, there are 120 buttons. there are six diagnoal/vertical rows. row 1= major 3ed. 2=root note. 3=major chord. 4= minor chord. 5= dominant7th. 6= diminished 7th.

so other than the first two rows, the buttons all play whole chords at once. now the horizontal rows are all perfect 5ths from one another. so you have middle C. one button to up (towards the players head, as opposed to the floor) is G. one button down (towards the floor) is F.

it's the most difficult instrument i've learned so far, but rather fun. you can't see what you're doing on the bass side, so that is where the sharp learning curve is. once you can memorize the positions, though, it's quite easy to make some simple melodies. i'm sure it gets more difficult when the songs become more advanced.

as i said, the right side is just like a piano, so nothing special to say there.

i've never used a button accordion, but i know most of them use the "free bass" system. whereas the stradella system plays 3-note-chords. the free bass has one note for each button, with the accordionist creating the chords by holding down multiple buttons.

the right side is lots of buttons as well. they may be in perfect 5ths as well, but i don't quite remember. many many of the buttons are identical notes, so there are a variety of different playing positions for a particular note - this makes it easier when playing different keys.

i would guess the button accordion is much more difficult to play.

working the bellows requires some thinking the first time you pick an accordion up, but after a week, it's second nature.

both hands must eventually fuction independently, like a piano - which is where i'm having a hard time. but i can consistently see improvement, and that's encouraging.

just thought i'd add some practical knowledge by someone who's learning.

---

i enjoyed your post! highly informative. ive played guitar for 11 years, bass for 11, drums for 4, piano for 6, ukulele for one, and then various other piano-key instruments such as melodica and glockenspiel for a number of years. i found this site looking for information because i want to learn trumpet.


swh2608 6 years ago

Lately, I attended the concert; the conductor mentioned the most difficult musical instrument to master is - HARP. It has 47 strings for both hands to play, plus it has 7 paddles. 47 x 47 x 7 combination makes all different/same melodies.


Trombone guy 6 years ago

I recently heard a discussion about what instrument was harder to play; the saxophone, the trumpet, or the trombone. I had always heard the constant complaints on reeds (breaking and whatnot) so I thought that maybe the sax was harder just because of the reeds since I didn't really know much about how they worked except that they needed to be wet. I decided to search on the internet to see what other people said and this is one of a few things I found saying the trombone is pretty difficult. Others seem to list instruments from a long time ago or that I've never heard of. Thanks for the trombone appreciation too.


dhuu 6 years ago

i play the violin and it took a bunch of the kids in orchestra a few months just to be able to remotly play notes not even in a song just random notes so i believe that the violin is the hardest instrument to play.


Martin 6 years ago

Apparently the saxophone is quite difficult, but if you look at this video on YouTube of the Irish Uilleann pipes, you might agree that this is the most difficult instrument to learn to play: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLReGq4oagU&feature...


A. L. 6 years ago

Just thought that I'd point out that the double horn has 3 valves and a trigger, which technically changes the key the horn is in, but is generally used as a valve. Also, french horns have to transpose more than any other instrument, which, in my opinion, makes it harder than trombone. From what my trombone playing friends say, you learn the positions in less than a year, and after that it's about the same difficulty as any other brass instrument.


Tom 6 years ago

From the heading 'ACCORDIAN', the other instrument you mention is the melodeon which is even harder than the accordion. As each note is different on the push and pull. So not only do you need to think about the melody buttons, you have to think about the base buttons and whether to go in or out!

So I would say melodeon!


fiddleelf 6 years ago

what about the "triangle"?


Edie Kugel 6 years ago

Well for one I know about woodwinds and there's not such thing as a word for the flutes, just called winds. For one thing Flutes, Clarinets and saxophones don't have valves all the wood winds instruments have keys. As for the Violins, Violas, Cello's and the stand up bass all of these wood string instruments are bowed. In my opinion the bowed instruments are not that difficult to master. I play a Digital Piano, Clarinet, a little bit on the Viola and I buying a Flute. I played the Flute, for one you just don't blow down ward into the hole of the mouth piece joint of the Flute, you put your lower lip at the edge of the hole and use your lower lip just to tough the edge of the hole of the flute. Putting the bottom edge of your lip at the edge of the flute gives you the half in air and half out and if you just blow down into the hole of the flute, you will not get a sound. Please take my advise or leave it. I know about wood wind instruments like all the family of Flutes all the family of the Clarinets and also all the family of the saxes. For one the Flute is in a key of C, the Clarinets are the key of B flat the Alto Sax is an E flat and the Tenor Sax is a B flat but I'm not sure what key the Bari. Sax is in though.


paul 6 years ago

ok i do not want to be mean or rude i just want to fill u in a little trombones are aculy eiser then u seam to know. ok the trombone has 7 slide positions. i cant realy tell u how far they are all aprt from each other but

the first one is the slide all the way in

the second is about 2 finger width apart

the third i can not explain in typing

fouth on most trombones is as far as the blell goes out

fith cant explain

sixth cant explin

seventh is as far as u can get it out with out it falling off

but there are some nothe in between slide positions but i dont know them

i hope i helped you by shraing this knolwdge of the trombone


Anonymous 6 years ago

You should really change the name of this hub to "Hardest WESTERN Instruments." Your opinion might have changed if you had researched international instruments. There are literally thousands of more instruments out there. Mentioning this would have made it less one-dimensional, and more educational.


Cybermouse profile image

Cybermouse 6 years ago from Bentonville, AR Author

Anonymous, first of all I did not research anything for this hub. Most hubs I write involve little to no research and are mainly written from my own personal knowledge.

Second, I am a Westerner, so it would only be logical that I write a hub about Western instruments. I know nothing about international instruments, therefore it would be pointless for me to write a hub about them, considering my first point.

If you did not find my hub educational, that means very little for other readers. You obviously know far more about instruments than I ever will. However, I imagine most of the people that read my hubs do not share that trait with you, and therefore, most readers will find this hub educational, especially those who haven't played any of the instruments that I have.

Thanks for the advice, but I did my best in writing this hub. If my best isn't good enough for you, then I have a simple solution to offer you - don't read any more of my hubs.


Nanci 6 years ago

Hi Tim,

I enjoyed reading about the instruments but what I am really impressed about is that you are my nephew!! I can't wait to read more of your hub! Please look for my blog pages. I am new at this.


max 6 years ago

recorder is the hardest instrument to play according to my saxophone teacher who plays saxophone, clarinet, flute, trumpet, trombone, french horn, violin, viola, cello, guitar, piano, bass, drums, digeradoo, recorder(you get the point).


tejas mahajan 6 years ago

indian classical instruments are 100 times toughter than guitar , piano etc. they are the toughest.guitar's just a simplified sitar.


Luckypiper 6 years ago

The bagpipes are by far the trickiest instrument to master! There are four instruments in one (4 reeds), a bag to squeeze at a very constant pressure, and all nine notes on the chanter must be set individually to suit the chanter reed. To add to the challenge all music must be memorized. Badly tuned bagpipes sound awful, and well tunes bagpipes can go out of tune in just a few minutes with ambient temperature changes.

Cheers


Boomslang7 6 years ago

How about indigenous American instruments? Spend a little time w/ a 5 string banjo, and what I consider the most difficult instrument in the world to "master" the American mandolin. And unlike traditional orchestras(excetra)we memorize all of our music. The saxophone can is the easiest...can play songs and simple music in a week or less.


ThreeHorns 5 years ago

I know you said you didn't do any research on this and that people who know little about instruments will find this educational but really some of the information is misleading. Some of it is correct, but some of it is way off. Being a French horn player I just have to say that a mellophone and horn are very different. The sound of a mellophone is much brighter than that of a horn, the fingerings are those of a trumpet, along with other differences. But what I really want to point out is that a double horn DOES NOT have six valves. A double horn has three main valves and a trigger or thumb valve. There are about 10 tuning slides. Since the double horn is the most commonly played horn I think it would be best if you had this information correct. And finally as a brass player, I must disagree, the size of your lips is not going to help you play a lower or higher ranged instrument. It would be nice if you could correct some of this information. But thank you for trying to help people better understand the differences in instruments.


Cassius 5 years ago

Great article. I play Rock guitar and I think it took me 20 years before it was professional sounding. VERY hard instrument to play. I think that the 4 string bass is the easiest "cool" instrument that I've ever played.


Kingadk 5 years ago

Yeah, the horn is much different than the mellophone. I have to play the horn in class with the horn mouthpiece, then in half an hour, be ready to play the mellophone with a trumpet mouthpiece. Considering the fingerings are the same as a trumpet, the mello is much closer to the trumpet than the horn.


kimballtrombone profile image

kimballtrombone 5 years ago

Good idea for an article. I think specific instruments can definitely better fits for specific people. As a professional trombone player and college professor who has experience playing and teaching all of the brass instruments, I would probably say trombone and horn are the most difficult of the brass instruments. However, for some players, the higher notes of the trumpet are much more challenging than the other brass, while for others, the breathing requirements of the tuba make it the most difficult for them.


paul 5 years ago

french horn is the hardest musical instrument,no comment


Esperanta profile image

Esperanta 5 years ago from Rhondda Fawr, Cymru

I have been told the baroque trombone is fiendishly difficult to play. Also, judging by the rarity of occasions when a note vaguely resembling the one aimed at comes out, I reckon the serpent must be difficult too.


SchoolMusician 5 years ago

Cybermouse: I happen to play the violin so i figured i would tell you a few facts about it - As you said about the trombone the violin is close to the same but i would say a little easier since you have four strings - But you still have to memorize the fingering of each note as well as the string it is played on. You also have many different positions in which to put your hand. In addition to the music a sheet of music is noted with bow strokes and you must watch what bow stroke you are on. The violin and trombone are similar in the way that they are two of the rare instruments that can easily slur two notes. As you add other thing you also must vibrate your hand to create a vibrato effect. After all of this the single hardest thing to master is hand position - Finger placement for most beginners is marked with tape. And also most beginners will rest their hand on the neck of the violin - this is not what is supposed to be done. The ideal position is with the palm of the hand directly under where the scroll starts. It is very tempting to "slouch" and relax the hand


Justin 5 years ago

I play the trombone and it's a fairly simple to play


Justin Bieber 5 years ago

@Justin, then now try playing some crazy 16-th note passages at quite fast speed with bunch of 5-th and 7-th positions.


Rider 5 years ago

It's sad that you pretty much put that the baritone and euphonium is the same thing. They are as different as the mellophone is different to the trumpet. They sound different, look different, and (not sure about your high school bands) euphoniums are better and more popular at my school with 4 valves. Baritones are what my highschool plays for marching band, but that's no reason to put them as the same. Our trumbones play the baritone for marching as well.

And honestly, I don't like how you put the trumpet in the same section as the tuba, euphonium and baritone. Tubas are also known for having 4 valves as well, please note that I'm talking about tubas, not sousaphones. Though sousaphones could have 4 valves also, I just can't remember right now. Trumpets just seem differrent to these instruments. I started playing trumpet in middle school but changed to baritone and euphonium for high school. It was so much easier for me to play high notes. I can easily play most of the notes above the staff(for treble clef) for the euphonium, yet I just now am able to play up to G above the staff for the trumpet, and that is occasionaly. Trumpets really do cause headaches from all the pressure it takes to push the air through.

I guess I'm being a little biased on my own, but there is a high brass and low brass split for a reason.


Sybil 5 years ago

The pipe organ is the most difficult instrument. Period.

Concert organists who travel perform on a uniquely different instrument each time they perform unlike brass, wind and string players who play their own instrument 99% of the time. Concert organists must travel to the concert instrument and be on site roughly 1-2 days prior the concert to register the organ. Some organists require even longer to register and acclimate to the organ. Much of the acclimatization time can be accounted for by whether the organ is a mechanical or electric, direct electric or electropneumatic action. The delay of the response varies greatly from organ to organ and the weight of key pressure is often measured in pounds! Solo concert pianists can usually arrive an hour or two before the concert and practice to acclimate to the keyboard touch.

To own a home pipe organ or electronic organ with a full pedalboard of 32 notes is not always an option. Consequently, the concert or church organist must travel to a remote location, either a concert hall, practice room or church for daily practice. Brass, wind and string players have their own portable instruments, capable of practicing anywhere.

Generally, there is not one organ that is like another organ: 1-5 manuals (keyboards), keyboard compass can vary from 56 notes to 61 notes, pedal boards are standard at 32 notes although a historical instrument can be 30 notes, the stop list is the most variable between instruments. Another consideration, is the pedal board a standard American Guild of Organist specification or is it a European style reverse radiating, a straight pedal board or some other variation? We concert organists, rarely look at our feet to perform so if things are not in the same place from what we are used to, more time making friends with the instrument can be necessary.

Coordination: The ability to play your toes and heels with as much ease and agility as your hands and at the same time perform the choreography of pushing manual pistons, toe studs and manipulating stops by hand is mind-boggling. The learning of organ music to a concert level is much more time consuming than a single-line instrument. Score preparation takes hours and days to mark fingerings and pedalings. Some of my piano degree students who study organ claim that performing on the organ is vastly more difficult than the piano due in part to reading a score that is usually 3 staves and sometimes 4 staves simultaneously and the coordination factor.

Of course our program selection can be complex as well since some repertoire will not work on certain instruments. Some variables that affect our programming of certain pieces are keyboard and pedal compass and tuning: is the instrument at A440 or is it some type of meantone tuning?

One could go on and on about the variables that make the pipe organ the most difficult instrument to learn. I would like to hear from a concert string, wind or brass player who also performs at the same concert level on the organ to discuss further thoughts on this topic.


Kyle  5 years ago

Honestly, the difficulty among any instrument is the same. They just are different.


Dustin 5 years ago

I primarily play piano, drum set, and guitar and would say that any instrument takes a great deal of time to become proficient at and more than a lifetime to master.

I studied tabla and mridangam several years ago and that was pretty challenging. After 2.5+ years of formal study on tabla and performing on them 3 days a week for two years I still consider myself an absolute novice on the instrument.

Jazz piano, and piano in general, has taken me a long time (going on 13 years) to begin to get a grasp on and I've been playing professionally for years!

I learn something new every time I pick up an instrument!

I would agree with some of the other people who left comments that Organ is probably one of the most difficult as I have heard that the Horn is also.


Diederik 5 years ago

you forgot the bagpipes ;)


meee 5 years ago

ohh myyy gusshhh the oboe is so hard im 1st yr band and i chose it b/c it sounded like elbow in a british accent i would suggest to play a flute or clarinate b4 choosing the oboe


Benn Archer 5 years ago

I must say that I play drums myself, and I hate to sound somewhat snobby, but I'm grade 8 and Drummer of the year twice.

And from a drummers point of view, I would say that at first they are quite difficult. They are also the most unplayed instrument in the world, respectively. And therefore there is a lot of competition for drummers.

They are quite hard to begin with however, extremely fun.

MORE PEOPLE SHOULD PLAY THE DRUMS.

Benn ;F


Julio 5 years ago

Actually castanets can be quite difficult when played correctly. Check out this lady:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nf9ypRpbZMA

I think that pretty much all instruments have difficult pieces. Coming from experience playing Violin, guitar, vihuela, piano, castanets, harmonica, and recorder, I feel every instrument is different and each one has quirks that must be mastered. The vihuela was much easier than the rest in terms of sound production because the chords are the same a guitar, but the traditional strum patterns for sones (Mexican folk songs) made it very hard to learn for me.

They are all the most difficult until you master them, then they aren't so difficult.


Dean 5 years ago

Good thread, and thanks for creating it, Cybermouse. I am a cellist, and just wanted to give you a little personal input on playing bowed strings. From my experience, they are not difficult to learn to play very basically, but they take many, many years to master. You can be a 2nd or 3rd year violinist, violist or cellist, and still make a wretched sound, in spite of the practice you've put in. It makes many hours of dedication and practice to reach the stage where you are competent enough to play solo music or in an ensemble at a semi-professional level. The chief problems are producing a beautiful sound with the bow and being able to control expression in a convincing manner, and of course intonation on these fretless instruments. They are many other issues too, such as learning various articulations with the bow, playing double-stops, shifting, etc. Also, with violin and viola, you have the added issue of an awkward holding position which often takes a lot of time to become comfortable with (and it's important to pay attention to this issue to avoid injury). I have a violin and sometimes get it out to play it, but I've never learned to be comfortable holding the instrument, so oftentimes I just hold it like a little cello and voilà -- I'm able to play convincing tunes with a lovely vibrato!

That said, I believe that determination and perseverance are well worth the effort, because playing a stringed instrument like the cello is, for me at least, MAGICAL. I don't mean to disrespect the beauty of other instruments -- actually, I also play woodwinds and piano, and used to play the trumpet long ago -- but strings are especially satisfying because of their beautiful sound and versatility, not to mention the tremendous body of literature written for them (string quartets, violin or cello sonatas and concertos, piano trios, etc.). The viola literature isn't nearly as great, but things are changing as more and more contemporary composers are learning to write convincingly for the viola, following the examples of such composers as Bartók, Walton and Hindemith.

Lastly, I wanted to reiterate the great versatility of the strings. In addition to being the fundamental heart and soul of the traditional orchestra and chamber music ensembles, strings can play a tremendous variety of other styles, being used as they are (principally the violin) in jazz, blues, rock (Apocalyptica's cellos are incredible!), regional styles such as Cape Breton fiddling, and many types of ethnic music -- because of its versatility, many cultures around the world have embraced the violin, e.g., Roma, Turkish, Indian, etc.

I would urge young string students (and all music students, for that matter) to stick to their instruments, in spite of the difficulties and setbacks, so that they can realize their full potential, and for parents to continue to support and encourage their children to continue their music studies. For adults coming to an instrument later in life, without a musical background in childhood, you'll have to work harder, but the payoff is definitely worth it. Music, and art more generally, make the world a beautiful (and for many of us, bearable) place to enjoy our lives.


Juanita 5 years ago

Hey you forgot about bassoons. They are instruments with feelings too.


Greg 5 years ago

I've always been interested in the "violin vs. guitar" part of this comparison. Pitch and intonation on a fretless instrument like the violin makes it so difficult to learn to play adequately, yet the huge laundry-list of high-precision guitar techniques makes for a high difficulty of mastery. Of course, there's always the fretless guitar for maximum total difficulty, but I don't know of anyone other than Ron Thal of Guns n' Roses that plays one on a regular basis.


Joey 5 years ago

Has anyone ever considered the sitar?


Sam 5 years ago

I play guitar piano and harmonica, they are relitively easy compered to most, by that i mean the guitar is not the hardest stringed instrment i think something in the violin family is harder, and the piano i think is pretty basic cuz thats the 1st instrment most people learn it is fun though, and i just love harmonica cuz it is portable and fun, you can sound fine without playing that long. :)


Jay 5 years ago

You forgot the bassoon!!!


Shelby 5 years ago

Wooo I play the trombone! Glad someone understands....also you should have listed the ukulele...its the way easier way more fun version of the guitar


Cynthia 5 years ago

Thank you, fabulous info. Yes I have trouble with the guitar and wondered why since so many seem to play it. I love piano - it is rewarding... and cello is my dream instrument.


i love music 5 years ago

oh i play guitar,piano,viola,clarinet,and recorder an i am 11.


Jordandt 4 years ago

yes rock band guitar hero drums are very realistic even the tabs in game.i found drumming much easier than guitar, but some beats is tricky, and requires stamina. btw the (two cymbals with open ends pressed together, attached to a foot pedal) is called a high hat


Emma 4 years ago

wow. way to not include basssoon.


Zachary 4 years ago

Just a few things about the horns...

The horn does not have a different fingering chart from the rest of the brass instruments (excluding the extreme upper and lower registers), it is just shifted a bit. Also, there are 16 different possible fingerings... Not 6. In addition, the reason the hand is in the bell is not to hold it up as many would assume, it is to correct intonation, and even though you aren't technically supposed to, cause minor adjustments in tuning. The reason the horn is difficult to hold a steady pitch is only slightly in part to the mouthpiece. It is mainly due to the fact that the horn is so long. With four meters of tubing to push air through, the horn plays very high up in the harmonic series that partials are often as little as thirds, or even semitones in the higher registers. Also, the mellophone is pitched the same as the horn, but that is where the similarities end. It has a much more strident tone, and has fingerings more akin to a trumpet than a horn. Also, the instrument is much easier to play. Cheers!


John 4 years ago

Although instruments have varying difficulties also the extent and depth of which it is played has varying difficulties. The great thing is the true difficulty is the depth of the person of which can be shown on the simplest of instruments (if you can hear to such subtlety though often we cannot even hear so clearly as the player with the experience!)


Steve 4 years ago

I sure wish people would discuss the difficulty of the bassoon. I'm curious...


mimi 4 years ago

With the violin,the bow must be perfectly perpendicular to the strings,you can only move your forearm,if you place your fingerseven the slightest little space of of where it's supposed to be,the note will be flat or sharp. Also,as some people call it,the wiggly finger thing,its called vibrato. You haveto do it a certain way ans rock the fingers back andforth at a certain pace.there's also a 1,3,5, and so on to a 15 position.there's 4 strings G,D,A,E.you put a certain amount of fingers on a string to make diff. Notes. Using the 4th finger needs practice.also keep the wrist perfectly straight you must hold the bow a certain way.putting the 4th finger on independently is hard to land it in tune.fingers must be curved a certain way.also keep nails short


mimi 4 years ago

I also happen to play the fluteand piano along w/ the violin.flute is hard for me and piano is second hardest.w/ the piano,it requires reading two clefs(bass and treble). It depends on everybody's opinion. For me violin is the most easy instrument to play in my opinion. It just comes easily.it also dependes on the way you think about it.some make an instrument harder than expected.I've been playing violin for 9 months and im pretty far in my book. Some people move along faster.playing an instrument requires a dedication. To practice.


mimi 4 years ago

Has anyone heard of the hyperbass flute? The question, most difficult. Instrument. To play is not a very good question.some people may have a special talent and say itseasy because they practice a lot.if you're saying San instrument is hard because you cant read music,but you know how to play the notes, it will be easy when you learn to read music. I had trouble playing the piano, my 1st inst.,my teacher gave me a saying. Its the same for every inst. The treble clef from bottom to top is E,G,B,D,F.the saying is Every,Good,Boy,Deserves,Fudge.i hope this help!


mimi 4 years ago

Have you considered mentioning the didgerido?


mimi 4 years ago

About Max who commented 18 months ago,your saxophone teacher,is she/he a teacher from your school?


mimi 4 years ago

Cybermouse,a glissando is used on the piano, right?ive only been playing for a year or two


mimi 4 years ago

My mom plays the piano and harp. She says that harp is very hard but most instruments become easierwhen mastered. With the harp you have to open and close the fingers a certain way.


chloe 4 years ago

Violin bowing techniques are staccato, spicatto, legation, and richochet.


chloe 4 years ago

Sorry, i ment legato.


zoid 4 years ago

For anyone begging any instrument probably the hardest thing to do is to just learn how to read the music. I play 5 different instruments (one in each category) and its easy for me to play by ear. But once someone puts sheet music in front of me I freak out. So don't get discouraged just keep practicing.

Btw if your wondering yes I play piano and it's probably my favorite instrument.


mimi 4 years ago

Another bowing. Technique would be sautille


zoid 4 years ago

Try the suzuki books


Banksy 4 years ago

Ive been playin younger harp ever since j was a kid, my grandparents passed it down and I'm the 87th generation to get it! Thank you soo much!!!


Holly 4 years ago

I would have to disagree with you about flute being the "easiest" of woodwinds to play. I've been playing flute for 8 years now and while I'm pretty good now, it wasn't easy to learn. I also have experience playing piccolo, piano, and alto saxophone (which was super easy).

For one thing, playing flute takes just as much air as it takes to play the tuba. When you blow into the head joint, a lot of the air doesn't even go into the flute but you still have to come up with A LOT of air and you have to have a controlled embouchure. This is especially important if you're playing in the low register and want it to really speak. Another thing that makes the flute difficult is probably getting your air speed right because if you blow too fast, you'll end up playing an octave higher than you need to. It takes a lot of control. Then you have to get your fingers to coordinate on the keys because if you even have one finger off, you are on a completely different note. And until you get into the high register, most low and middle register notes have the same fingerings. It's your air that differentiates between the octaves.

Also, piccolo is an entirely different beast. Some flute players can do it and some can't, it's not automatic. It takes an even more controlled embouchure than flute and an even smaller one. It can be pretty difficult to adjust to. I've played for four years and I love it but I know it took me probably a month before I even started to get a good sound on it. It is also extremely difficult to tune. (Ever heard the joke "How do you get two piccolo players to play in tune? Shoot one.")

Anyways, I just wanted to point out those inconsistencies with your article. Thanks.


Kevin 4 years ago

I play guitar. Therefore, THAT must be the easiest instrument to play, since I have no natural musical abilities. I've dabbled with the piano and harmonica, but the guitar was much easier from the start. I can't imagine trying to sound decent on violin, French horn or, say, the harp.


Mary 4 years ago

i play the ukele,keyboard and the tenor horn it would be funny if you mentioned the banjo!!!


Mark 4 years ago

From what I understand, bag pipes are outrageously difficult to play...


Irene Sirendi 4 years ago

How about the steel pans?They are quite hard?


Brassmasta 4 years ago

Wrong wrong wrong. The horn player doesn't put his hand in the bell just because. It is required to play it because unlike another brass instrument or any other instrument for that matter. You become part of the instrument. You see a horn player has to position his hand and arm correctly in the horn bell to extend the horns length. Your arm basically becomes extra tubing. Without your arm in the horn will go extremely sharp. I have played trombone trumpet and horn. In my experiences trombone is it difficult at all and just requires the physical memorization of positions and the memorization of pitches. The horn is by far the hardest brass instrument to play. Take it from a guy who knows. Each note on the French horn not only has one fingering on the same shelf but can have up to 3-4 for the same note. Also horns don't even need valves. They can play all notes just by using their hand to control pitch inside the bell. Not to mention the excessively smaller mouthpieces a horn comes with. All these different fingerings means that you can hit a lot of notes in the same octave with the same fingering which makes it extremely difficult to play the horn because starting off you have no idea If you playing a A or a Bb witch r right next to eachother so a horn kplayer also has to memorize pitches like trombone players. So far through playing all these instruments the trumpet is the easiest because of exact fingerings so the only mistake is missing shelves. (example of


flutehoff 4 years ago

Cybermouse, With all due respect, this is a very silly discussion. ALL instruments are difficult to play well. I've been playing flute for 40 years and I can tell you that it is extremely difficult to play well. Hardly the lighter woodwind as this article portrays it to be. Maybe this discussion applies to the first few times you pick an instrument up and one instrument is more challenging than another initially, but playing MUSIC on any instrument takes a huge amount of discipline, skill, concentration and above all, time. I challenge you to play, for example, Prokofiev's Sonata for Flute and Piano. You'll be busy for the next ten years and still have difficulty getting it right! The absolute nonsense in this article has nothing to do with becoming a fine skilled musician.


mimi 4 years ago

I use the suzuki books


mimi 4 years ago

I just picked up the cello


Kranz 4 years ago

I would have to say french horn and mellophone because I have been playing ever since fourth grade and I still have some troubles with tone stability.


Amed 4 years ago

Come on guys and ladies , just enjoy the sound of music , Beautifull isn't .


nbhumble profile image

nbhumble 4 years ago from Staffs, UK

A very interesting hub that has sparked a stimulating debate, well done Cybermouse.

I can only add that as a modest violinist (and collector of violins, which you can see at http://www.virtuosiviolins.com) I have the utmost admiration for anyone who has mastered to a high level any musical instrument, it is one of the greatest achievements anyone can attain. When you watch or listen to any musician at the top of their profession - and in almost any genre of music - they are truly awe inspiring.


ANANAMOUSE 4 years ago

I. BASSOON

A. Bassoon

Zed. Bassoon.


Alyssa 4 years ago

hah im a trombone player :3 awh yeah

definatly a hard instrument. but hey saxes are hard too


BrassBandy 4 years ago

Hi, I just wish to correct a small point- a cornet may look slightly smaller, but is still pitched in B flat, not C.

As a player of all brass instruments, I would definitely say the French Horn is the hardest of the brass; one must have great control to pitch correctly.


vad001 4 years ago

I think a good way of comparing a brass instrument to a piano or string or woodwind would be to consider that with no practice anyone can sit down with a violin or piano or guitar and hit or pluck a note, including the highest notes. But with a trumpet it may take you five years just to figure out you will never have the strength to hit and sustain the highest notes. A friend was a great trumpet player and he played in the white house. He had a mild heart attack and though he can do everything else and play other instruments like guitar and piano, he can never play the trumpet again. Even to teach. It took me 5 years simply to realize that I'd never be good on a trumpet, but I can pick up a violin and after a few lessons play any simple song. Now becoming great at a violin would be a different matter!


Yasmine 4 years ago

Hi I play the flute & I think blowing into the flute is the hardest part of it.


silver 4 years ago

I remember playing the Trombone in middle and high school.

Yes it's very hard to play at first but after a lot and a lot of practice it becomes 2nd nature to play. I remember playing it so much I was given a solo that was meant for a baritone! I also was able to go all the way to state finals competition. My advice is no matter hard something is don't give up you cannot have success without failure! Trust me I know.


Reynaldo 4 years ago

Im the first chairman for vioin T my school.the violin,viola and cello are all challenging instruments.look at jascha heifetz.he played since he was three.anybody can pick up an instrument and play a note.true music is a different matter.the violin and viola along with cello are three of the harder instruments out there.they are more phisically challenging as well as emotionally.you can express your sole through wind instruments as well as stringed ones.i personnally agree that stringed instruments are harder however.


mimi AGAIN 4 years ago

This conversation(I don't meanto be rude) is very stupid. There is no such thing as the hardest instrument to play. For example again I play flute violin and piano.none of them are equally as challenging of course. All that matters is if you are able to play that type of instrument. Something as simple as the uncomfortable position oft the instrument to maintain in order to play. Or you may just have to get used to it. When I first picked up the flute I was HORRIBLE. All because I forgot the fingerings of the notes. It seemed so unbelievably hard. I started getting very good after 54days. And some people just have a talent for a special instrument. My mom says theviolin is much harder than piano. Even though my opinion is that piano isn't as easy as violin. But the best advice e I can give anyone is never start any instrument without knowing piano first. Except for violists. And I think trombone might have another Clerc on a rare occasion


hornplayer 4 years ago

i play french horn and some trombone...ya its hard but the positions are a lot like remembering valve combos but a little harder


bassoon 4 years ago

I felt hurt you didn't mention the bassoon... but I also play trombone, flute, clarinet, and piano, so you got me there c: Nice hub I found.


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Bobski606 3 years ago from U.K

Hi Cybermouse, great article! I play the trombone and find it quite easy to play even with the extra F and D valves (think extra tubing in the back). When I was learning to play we were taught the 7 positions but once you've mastered approximately where they are it's more about listening and getting the tuning right there with whomever you're playing with.

I have started to play some more modern pieces with notes that require quarter and eighth intonation (14 - 28) positions and then it starts to get complicated. You really have to listen and remember which way you need to go because with this type of music you rely on alternative positions. For example a Bb (just below middle C) can be played in first position and a slightly altered 5th position.

As for other instruments I do play piano and guitar but I could never get my head around those valve instruments. I guess I'm a trombone player as nature intended.


jake 3 years ago

Flute is one of the most difficult instruments to articulate. Try accents for example. It requires a burst of air,but if you give too much air it results in an overtone or a new octave. Lower registers are extremely difficult. You need a very tight emboucher and especially the high c. Particularly c8.


Ckr-e 2 years ago

What about Bassoon? it's a double reed and the holes are further apart and you have to really stretch if you have small hands. you have to relearn how to position and move your mouth for every reed


Oboe master 2 years ago

You make the oboe sound a lot easier than it actually is.


no body profile image

no body 2 years ago from Rochester, New York

Hello Cybermouse. I am almost too timid to add anything. I wish to say that in my humble opinion, musicians that work to perfect their contribution to the world of musical art, rapidly become snooty and beyond to reach of novices to even speak with or around without any haughty attitude coming forth.

I am an adult who has always wanted to sing. But alas, music coming forth from my mouth sounds like an eagle screech. I have wished for some way to make a noise that others could think may capture even a moment of beauty and what I hear in the way of encouragement from music people is that no one can produce a moment of beauty except those very privileged individuals that are close to prodigies, every one of them. I disagree but then I have to don't I? I barely know how to read notes for the melody line. How would I ever produce one tone anyone would be able to tolerate?

And yet the ancient ocarina and the wonderful players of this instrument have become family to me. They constantly give of themselves and do all they can to lift the art and the earnest desire of a willing learner. They don't discourage a person to even try. The musical artist's ego grows with each passing year to perfect themselves to validate their years of practice. A doctor who devotes his life to saving people does not cancel out the med personnel that save lives everyday or the stranger that gives mouth-to-mouth. It is the heart where this beauty comes from. It is the music that reaches into the heart. As far as I'm concerned, I don't wish to be a musician who would stand on a pedestal until some other musician tries to knock them off to prove that their pain of learning deserves more credence.

I will continue to try to bring a moment of beauty to a world filled with people that may need that moment to bring them past a point of pain in their lives.

And oh yes, there are masters of the ocarina in China and Japan and Italy and they are just as loving as the novices.

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