Picking Your Instrument

Whether you are an adult learning an instrument for the first time, or a parent trying to help your child find their lifelong passion for music, there are many different factors to consider and questions to ask you, or your child, before picking out which instrument to learn. When picking out your first instrument, it’s a good idea to keep two key concepts in mind – thinking logically, and thinking about music style. Below is a more in-depth look at these two concepts and how they can help you figure out what kind of instrument you should learn.

Think Logically

I’m sure learning how to play the cello sounds like a lot of fun! But you also have to think about what sort of practice space you have at home, and if you are going to be limited to just playing your instrument during your lessons. If you have a small living space or want something portable, a violin might be a better option. Another thing to consider is time. Of course anyone will invest a large amount of time into learning how to play an instrument, but some instruments are easier to learn than others. It definitely takes less time to learn the piano than it would to learn how to play the French horn.

Instruments That Fit Your Style

Musical instruments are a very big investment of not only time, but also money, and although it may seem obvious, it’s worth considering your music style and whether or not you will even enjoy listening to the instrument. If your child dreams of being a pop star, learning how to play the acoustic guitar to accompany their singing sounds like a good plan. Or perhaps it would be safe to consider something like the harp, which is a more stationary instrument that can be played in the comfort of your home.

Drumming

Beginners are by far the largest population of drummers, and they come in lots of shapes and sizes. While some teachers do a great job of taking into account age, background, and learning modalities (visual, auditory, and tactile), others use a cookie-cutter approach (probably because they were taught this way) to help their newbies. Work out of only one book, hold the sticks a certain way, play within only one genre of music, learn certain rudiments, and so on. Though many of these instructors have had past success with these methods, modern-day clientele often find this narrow approach to be old-fashioned and stale; they’re not engaged and having fun. It’s not surprising when students ask, “Why not teach myself?”

In the not-so-distant past, self-learning was very limited: pick up a book (or a magazine, of course), listen to recordings, or watch your favorite drummers play live, and get the best equipment from Kickstart your Drumming. You might have even popped a few instructional videos into a VCR. With the wealth of high-tech educational resources available to beginners these days, including YouTube, DVDs, e-books, online lessons, websites, and apps, we’re swimming in a sea of innovation. However, it’s become increasingly difficult for students to stay afloat. They easily become overwhelmed with the sheer number of choices, lose their focus, and require guidance. The following ten categories give beginners a way to organize their learning. Teachers may also find helpful ideas to add to their toolboxes. Categories are not ranked by order of importance. In other words, you could start with any one (or more) of these. It’s important to proceed judiciously.

Take the time to repeat new exercises and play them at different tempos. Go for mastery over scratching the surface. Eliminate all distractions, follow through with your goals, and you’ll soon see tangible results and how each strand is interconnected. Whether or not you decide to have a mentor to guide you through this process, ultimately you will need to inspire and motivate yourself. Who knows? If you stick with it, we may soon be writing about you in this magazine.

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