Let’s walk down memory lane – it’s Kindergarten, and you have not a care in the world. Maybe you’re enjoying those crisp cut apple slices your mom packed for you in the morning. You sit and watch the other kids play, you see Suzy trying to trade her snack but no one is interested because everyone knows Ali always comes to school with the best snacks, Scooby Doo? No hate but some of us did not enjoy opening our lunch bag to find a small pack of soda crackers.
Okay, snack time is over. Ms. Jefferson has gathered the class around for music jammies, always an exciting time of course. She hums simple rhythms while you and your classmates dance around like half cooked spaghetti in a boiling pot. You’re getting so into it that she passes you and Suzy a youth sized bongo. You tap along, and though you’re off beat, there is something fun about the instrument. Oh, what simpler times.
I’m willing to bet that everyone has been exposed to some kind of musical instrument in their early school years, at least here in Canada. From playing “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” on the recorder in elementary school, to trying to violin your way through strings class, these instruments were our first introductions to other artistic practices. Unless you select a music class in high school or post-secondary, many of us will never touch an instrument again. It’s a bit sad to think about – music itself has many health benefits, so imagine what playing an instrument does.
I encourage people who haven’t touched an instrument since high school to pick something up. There’s no pressure to be good at it, believe it or not, you can play an instrument simply to enjoy it. But where do you start? Let’s take a look at a few instruments and how easy they are to pick up for a beginner.
Ukulee: This instrument is one of the least expensive out of this group. The average price for a Ukulele online is between $39-$50, with the higher end instruments reaching up to the $100s. This instrument is easy to pick up and travel around with you. It has four nylon strings vs. the six on the guitar which make picking up chords easy to digest in weeks. People who are able to master the Uku will find their skills will transfer well to the guitar. Best to start with a couple of easy-to-follow YouTube tutorials!
Harmonica: When I think of this instrument, it makes me think of the jazz and blues era! It also reminds me of Stevie Wonder, a gem of a musician. Easy to pick up, and always “in key”, this instrument is small in nature which means it’s easy to carry. On top of that, it’s inexpensive, you can order one online or purchase at your local music store for as little as $20-$30 depending on the type.
Piano: This one may be a surprise to you, but with dedication can be mastered quite quickly. It is an instrument that requires good hand/finger coordination and a knowledge of the which keys correspond to each note (there are 88 keys on a grand piano). Once that is locked down, picking up music can become easy. Unlike the guitar or ukulele, the playing area is right in front of you. Though it’s difficult to play out of tune, it will require more work than the previous instruments. But as the saying goes, “nothing good comes easy”.
Keyboard: Similar to the piano, this instrument is able to create a wide range of musical rhythms and synthesizer tones. It’s great for recording music and is all done electronically. Like the grand piano, it has 88 keys, but beginners may find it useful to start with a simpler 66 key keyboard. The great thing about this instrument is it’s portability. There will be no need for you and your three friends to blow your backs out hauling a keyboard as you would with a piano.
Harp: This is for the creatives out there who really want to try something different. The harp is an instrument that is not heavily promoted so access to instructors or online teachings may be limited. However, this instrument provides smooth and angelic melodies that are soothing to the ear. The learning will be a curve, most harps can have up to 36 strings depending on the size, while a pedal harp can have up to 47 strings. Let’s just say you’ll be plucking more than a chicken.
Whatever instrument you choose, your ability to excel will depend on your passion and curiosity. So pick something that connects with you, find a teacher or How-To-Video online and you’ll soon find that your dedication will naturally lead to success. Interested in learning more about which instruments are easiest to learn? Local musician Haneul Yi gives you the inside scoop in his article here. Have you recently picked up a new instrument? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!