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Best Instrument to Learn!

Updated on July 28, 2018
Reginald Thomas profile image

40 years as a conductor, professional trombonist, and educator. This author enjoys writing about his passion for music.

Best Instrument to Learn!

A musical instrument is a wonderful thing to learn. There are so many benefits to learning an instrument for young and old alike. But which one should you learn to play? What are the procedures for learning a new instrument? At what age should one start playing an instrument? This article will explore these questions and more as we outline what would the best instrument to learn.

Benefits of Learning a Musical Instrument

When I was in the elementary school I was a poor student until I started playing musical instrument. I was very quiet introverted student and because of music, I became more creative, a better student in all subjects, improved my social skills, and in fact went to college to became a music teacher.

Learning a new instrument has many more great benefits such as:

  • Increases memory capabilities
  • Improves coordination
  • Improves analytic skills
  • Participation in a physical activity
  • Improves reading mastery through understanding
  • Creates responsibility
  • Explores culture and history
  • Fosters self-expression
  • Improves listening skills
  • Recreational fun
  • Belonging to a performance group with others

How an instrument is chosen.

I remember some years ago when I was teaching instrumental music in the public schools and as a regular practice in the first month of the school year, it was my responsibility to help and guide the elementary school students as they chose the musical instrument they wished to play. As with most towns there was always a musical instrument company that had a rental program available for them, but there were always some students that would explain that they had their own.

A few examples of how a child chooses an instrument are as follows:

  • My friend plays the clarinet, so that’s what I will choose.
  • My dad played the trumpet in high school, so I will use his and play the trumpet.
  • My parents found this trombone at a tag sale so that will be the instrument for me.
  • I absolutely love the sound of a saxophone. This will be the instrument that I learn to play.
  • I listened to this great trumpet player and want to be just like him. I choose the trumpet.
  • I want to be a rock star and choose the drums.

An adult chooses an instrument for some of the following reasons:

  • I always wanted to learn the flute but never had the time in high school. Now that I am 30, I want to learn how to play it.
  • I have had a piano in the house for 20 years and decided to start learning how to play.
  • I tried a trumpet in elementary school and quit after a couple of weeks. Now that I’m older I think I’d like to try a trombone.

What is the best instrument to learn for you?

Instrument
Type of Instrument
Physical Requirements
How Popular
Oboe
Woodwind
Double reed instrument, difficult.
Not very popular
Flute
Woodwind
Long fingers, dexterity, air supply
Very popular for girls
Clarinet
Woodwind
Finger dexterity, air supply
Very popular, boys or girls
Saxophone
Woodwind
Finger dexterity, air supply
Boys like this, jazz band later
Bassoon
Woodwind
Double reed, 6ft long, difficult
Not very popular
Violin
String
Good finger dexterity
Very popular if it is a big program
Viola
String
Cello
String
Large instrument, not too popular
Double Bass
String
Two large of an instrument for a young person
Not very popular
Trumpet
Brass
Finger dexterity, must have good air supply, embochure needs to be developed
Very popular with boys, not so much with the girls
Horn
Brass
Smaller mouthpiece, embochure needs to be developed, must have good air supply. Difficult
Less popular
Trombone
Brass
Larger mouthpiece, must have good air supply, embouchure needs to be developed
Very popular
Euphonium/Baritone Horn
Brass
Larger mouthpiece, must have good air supply, embochure needs to be developed
Less popular
Tuba
Brass
Largest of all brass, needs good air supply, embochure needs to be developed.
Less popular
Snare Drum
Percussion
Quick reflexes, good in math, good ear
All the boys want to be drummers, very popular
Drum Set
Percussion
Piano
String/Percussion
Long fingers, big hands, finger dexterity
Very popular
Guitar
String
Good finger dexterity
Popular

Don’t force a child to play an instrument you want them to play!

Alison Balsom, an accomplished young lady performing on the Trumpet.

Practice Routine

For a child to see success with a brand new instrument it is important for the parents to have patience, discipline, and motivation. Instill in your child the importance of practicing and developing a good practice routine. Practicing an instrument should not seem like a chore for the young musician. Below are some tips on this subject.

  • Designate a private area that you can practice in.
  • Practice at the same time every day
  • Set up an alarm clock for your practice session and don’t start practicing until the alarm goes off. Your practice time should start off being 1/2 hour and gradually increase to one full hour per day.
  • Keep a log of your practice session and what you got accomplished
  • As you get well-established with your practice routine, you need to include a warmup period. This needs to be between five and ten minutes in order to get your embouchure warmed up or flexibility in your fingers etc.
  • Avoid interruptions

How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, Practice, Practice!

Sleepy Man Banjo Boys. Phenomenal Trio!

Concert Grand Piano

Source

Private Lessons

Private lessons represent an important part of learning to play an instrument. Without them, failure is imminent. As mentioned earlier, most public schools offer instrumental music lessons as part of the elementary school curriculum starting as early as grade 6. These are in fact group lessons of four or more students once a week. A student that is faster than the other students in this small group setting may get frustrated and lose interest unless they have the opportunity to study with a specialist in a private lesson so that this youngster can excel at his or her pace.

I do remember that when I was a youngster starting the trombone that I had several private teachers from grade 5 through high school. My private teachers helped motivate me to practice more at home which allowed more opportunities to perform in advanced orchestras and bands throughout high school.

I have provided a few videos for your entertainment and more importantly to illustrate the success of young people taking private lessons as part of their learning process on the instrument and how they can excel at an early age.


So, What is the Best Instrument to Learn?

Taking in all the considerations of restrictions, applications, physical requirements, expenses, popularity, and difficulty, my recommendation is that the piano would seem to be the best instrument to learn. The short list below will outline why this would be a good choice:

  1. The piano is easier for young person to learn beginning as early as age four.
  2. One can play the piano in any style.
  3. The piano provides a solid base for music fundamentals.
  4. The piano provides instant gratification while learning.
  5. The piano needs no embouchure to develop.
  6. No size problems of the bigger instruments to overcome.
  7. Many students of the piano find it very easy to pick up a second instrument after a few years of fundamentals on the piano.
  8. With today’s technology, a grand piano or expensive upright is not necessary as there would be many models of electronic keyboards available for home use.

In Closing,

If I had it all over to do again, I would be learning the piano.This instrument provides all the necessary skills in music to use later for learning a second or even a third instrument later in life. If your child is that enthusiastic about music he or she may want to learn how to write music. The piano is a great instrument to use for this exploration.

All of the instruments that we talked about in this article are good and as you can see have degrees of popularity and difficulty. I hope this information helps and good luck with your music. If you find this article useful, drop a comment below.

© 2018 Reginald Thomas

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