Learning to play an instrument is a fun way to gain a new hobby that you can do on your own or with friends. It can be an outlet for feelings or a fun way to pass the time. But the first step to learning the new musical skill is usually the hardest. Almost like learning a new language, you’re essentially learning a new way of thinking.
Almost like learning a new language, you’re essentially learning a new way of thinking.
No matter how you try to learn a new instrument, there are a few ways to make your success more likely. The first is to be consistent with practicing. The trick, like with any life change, from exercise to reading, is to make a part of your regular schedule. Eventually, practice becomes second nature instead of a chore.
Early on, you’ll also want to learn at least one simple song. While it helps to learn individual chords, keys, and scales, learning something you can play to completion is a good way to learn the basics while having something to show for it. This sense of accomplishment can push you onward to do more. Both these go a long way to keeping the learning fun.
While learning fundamentals helps, mastering a simple song early is a good way to learn the basics while having something to show for it.
Finally, if this is your first instrument, it may help to pick a common one. This will ensure you have more options to learn the instrument. It may also give you more ways to find affordable instruments. That’s not to say you should only learn a popular instrument. If you want to learn the French horn, go for it. It just may be easier to learn the guitar or piano.
Keeping these in mind, how you can actually learn the instrument becomes important.
Find a Teacher
Finding a private teacher is probably the most popular way to learn a new instrument. Learning from a tutor offers a couple of advantages over the alternatives. They can give you personalized instruction and critiques that will help you learn quickly. Most music teachers also operate on a weekly basis, which fulfills the consistency needed to be successful. They can act as fountains of knowledge, helping you learn what you want at your own pace.
Teachers can give you personalized instruction and critiques that will help you learn quickly and correctly.
The downside of finding a music teacher, of course, is the price. This is probably the most expensive option of the three, though the price depends on the individual teacher and some may take you on for free (though this is rare). If you know somebody that plays the instrument, they may be willing to teach you. It may be worth finding a professional since teaching is a skill. To find one near you, you can look online or search locally. Many music stores will also offer lessons. Some may even offer you a deal if you purchased the instrument there.
Find an Online Video Course
If you like the idea of having a teacher but want to spend a little less or want a bit more control over your lesson, a video course may be your ticket to success. Professionally produced video courses tend to be polished with top instructors skilled about both the instrument and sharing that expertise with newcomers. In many ways, a video or online course offers a middle point between the other two options.
Like many middle points, though, online courses don’t go far enough in either direction to fully offer the advantages of the other two options. They allow you to get expert instruction from the comfort of your own home, but they lack the flexibility of learning on your own or the hands-on approach of an in-person class.
Online courses allow for instruction from the comfort of home, but they lack the flexibility of learning on your own or the hands-on approach of an in-person class.
You can find video lessons in places like the Great Courses Plus, Udemy, or even through the Berklee College of Music. These are all paid options, some of which can be rather expensive. You can also find a free version, exploring what options the internet and YouTube have to offer.
Play Around on Your Own
Some people feel they learn better on their own. Their musical journey is one where they carve their own path. One of the top benefits of learning an instrument this way is that it’s free, besides the price of the instrument. You can also be flexible with what and how you learn. If you want to learn complete songs only, you can. If you’d prefer to work on the fundamentals and take it from there, that’s your choice. However you learn best, you can try it out.
The top benefits of learning an instrument this way are that it’s free and flexible.
While you get the most freedom by learning this way, teaching yourself lacks an expert hand guiding you. You could end up learning incorrectly or developing bad habits which can hinder you down the road. If you hit a roadblock in your learning, a chord you can’t master or a song that’s tough, there won’t be a teacher to help you figure it out. Being self-taught also puts the accountability to practice entirely on you.
The beauty of the self-taught method is that all it takes is the instrument and the will to practice. Many musicians learned a few chords and took it from there. You can also find learning materials that may have lesson plans or guides to give you some direction. Another option is to find resources like Ultimate-Guitar, which publishes how-to’s for songs free online.
The beauty of the self-taught method is that all it takes is the instrument and the will to practice.
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Learning an instrument can be a fun, mind-healthy hobby that anybody can benefit from. Whether you’re trying in-person lessons, online classes, or teaching yourself, picking up a new instrument is a worthwhile pursuit that’s both achievable and rewarding.