Playing an instrument is a skill that many people possess, literally millions of people spread across the globe all play instruments at different levels. Perhaps you play for fun or maybe you’re a seasoned professional. Perhaps you’ve finally decided you want to pick up a new hobby by way of learning an instrument.
In this guide, we take a look at a variety of instruments and we explore which of these are the quickest and easiest to learn.
What Instrument Should I Pick?
Choosing to learn a new instrument may seem like a daunting prospect given the fact that there are hundreds of different musical instruments to choose from. We live in a day and age where musical instruments are more accessible. Although this is a good thing, it can feel overwhelming, especially for non-musicians.
Before you pick a musical instrument to learn, there are several things you must have in consideration in order to pick an instrument that’s well suited to you as an individual. Below are some factors to think about when choosing an instrument to learn:
What Kind Of Music Do You Want To Play?
Whenever anyone I know expresses their interest in music my first question is almost always “well what kind of music do you want to play?”. This is because certain genres and styles of music are instrument specific.
For example, if someone wanted to play heavy metal then I would recommend an electric guitar whereas if they wanted to play bluegrass music then I would recommend a banjo (see easy banjo songs). Although there are no limitations when it comes to using different instruments in different genres, it is smart to focus on an instrument that is prominent in your preferred genre.
Once you have a clear idea of the kind of music you want to play then you need to make sure you pick an instrument that excites you, an instrument that you’re passionate about.
What Are Your Musical Goals?
Your musical ambitions will play a role in deciding what instrument is best for you. This requires a certain degree of self-awareness as you must be realistic with yourself and the goals you have set.
If your goal is simply to be able to play an instrument while you sing then choosing an instrument like the drums or bag-pipes may not be your best bet. Instead, you should focus on an instrument like the piano or ukulele as these allow you to sing and play at the same time.
If your musical ambition is to join a band eventually then you would choose an instrument such as the drums, piano or guitar as these work well within a musical ensemble. In such an instance, choosing an instrument such as the clarinet or the harp would not be advisable as not many bands employ these in their performances.
Do You Have The Necessary Practice Space?
The practice is undeniably the most important aspect when it comes to learning a new instrument or a new skill. It takes a great deal of practice in order to get better at anything you do. As such, you need to ensure you have the necessary facilities to allow you to practice your new instrument.
Purchasing a drum set when you live in an apartment may not be the best idea due to space restrictions as well as noise considerations – your neighbors might not necessarily appreciate the noise. However, a fix around this would be to acquire an electronic drum set which would allow you to connect to speakers and be able to monitor your volume.
The same logic applies to instruments such as a piano: you may not be able to get an acoustic piano due to space and financial restraints but you can instead purchase a digital piano and achieve more or less the same results.
Do You Have Enough Time To Practice?
As mentioned earlier, practice is paramount when it comes to learning a new instrument. You, therefore, need to take into account how much time you will really have to practice your instrument. Some instruments are more demanding than others and therefore require more time to be able to learn.
As such, keep this in mind when shopping around for a new instrument to learn.
Money makes the world go round, we wish this wasn’t the case but this is the reality. You will have to take into account the cost of whatever instrument you decide to learn and budget accordingly.
Instruments all cost different prices, acoustic pianos are far more expensive than electric pianos or guitars. Two different guitars will also cost very different prices due to the differing levels of craftsmanship as well as the brand.
As such, you will need to do a bit of research and budget accordingly in order to avoid any unexpected costs and disappointments.
Top 11 Easiest Instruments To Learn
We’ve taken the time to put together a list of the easiest instruments to learn. Bear in mind that this is list is essentially a guide and it is not set in stone, different people find it easier to learn different instruments. For instance, I struggled with the violin but I found guitar easier and that is now my main instrument.
Although this list will give you a solid idea of what instrument is best for you, the truth is that the amount of time and effort that you pour into your instrument will affect how quickly, and easily, you learn it.
We also tried to make this list as practical as possible, we could very easily have said that the Triangle is the easiest instrument to play but we took into consideration the practical applications of the instrument.
Worth noting is that this list is not in any particular order
The ukulele is one of the easiest musical instruments that you can learn. As such, they’re relatively popular amongst people who are looking to pick up a new musical instrument that isn’t too complex to learn.
Ukuleles are also inexpensive in comparison to other instruments such as guitars. In fact, you can get started with a decent ukulele for under $50. They are also extremely lightweight and you can take them with you pretty much anywhere.
The recorder is arguably the easiest instrument you can choose to learn. In fact, you can learn how to play a simple melody/song within 5 minutes of picking it up. You can also play renditions of popular songs.
The recorder would suit someone with an interest in woodwind instruments but may lack the necessary funds to afford a trumpet or a saxophone. It’s a great entry-level instrument and you can find music pieces to practice that are specifically for the recorder.
The harmonica is a wonderful instrument that is often overlooked by many new musicians and hobbyists. Despite being a versatile musical instrument, people tend to view it as a music accessory.
Despite that, the harmonica is one of the easiest instruments to learn how to play for beginners. The great thing about the harmonica is that it is widely used in a lot of different genres such as rock, blues, folk, jazz, etc. It’s, therefore, a pretty practical instrument and easy to learn as well.
4. Bass Guitar
Although it would take years of practice to master the bass guitar, it nevertheless remains an instrument that one can learn how to play relatively easily. It is widely used in music and plays a big part in most genres of music.
The biggest challenge you may face when it comes to the bass guitar is adjusting to the strings as they are relatively thick. However, this is normal as there is always a teething period when you pick up a new instrument and you will quickly adjust to the way the strings feel.
The piano has played a major role in music all throughout history and it will continue to do so for many years to come. As such, it remains one of the most popular instruments to learn how to play.
The piano is incredibly versatile and easy to learn. Thanks to many available resources such as video tutorials, apps, etc it has never been easier to learn how to play the piano. With a bit of practice, you can learn how to play simple melodies and chord progressions.
The easiest way to learn how to play the piano would be to purchase a digital piano as you can adjust the sensitivity of the keys. Some digital pianos also come with in-built lesson mode features that help you learn how to play. Digital pianos are also easily portable in comparison to acoustic pianos.
Percussions play an integral role in music as they are considered the heart-beat of the song, they provide the music with rhythm and give it flavor. It’s difficult to envision music without the use of percussions, it just wouldn’t be the same.
Percussions are relatively easy instruments to learn how to play as you mainly need to focus on the rhythm, you needn’t rely on sheet music in order to play. There are a variety of percussions to choose from such as congas, bongos, djembe drums, etc.
The trumpet is a reasonably easy instrument to learn how to play for beginners. Learning how to play the trumpet will give you a good foundation when it comes to picking up other brass instruments.
If you’re a fan of afrobeat, jazz or blues then this would be an instrument worth considering as the trumpet is widely used in all these music genres.
Many banjos players comment that learning how to play the banjo is fairly easy for beginners. The five-string banjo has an open tuning of G which means that when you strum it without pressing on the strings it will play a G chord. In order to play a G chord on a guitar, you must press down on several strings simultaneously.
People often overlook the banjo as its not a ‘mainstream’ instrument such as the piano or the guitar. Despite this, it has a role to play in the musical world in is one of the most popular instruments to use in country and folk music.
Another rather easy instrument to learn comes in the form of the melodica, a simple instrument that a surprisingly large number of people do not know about. It belongs to the free-reed family of instruments. You blow into the mouth-piece and press on one of the piano-style keys to produce notes.
The piano style layout of the keys makes this an easy instrument to learn. Even if you don’t know music theory you can still play simple melodies by playing wholly on the black or white keys. This is also a good foundation should you choose to learn how to play the piano later on.
They are also lightweight and extremely popular and they are not steeply-priced, that is depending on the brand and the model you choose.
The harp is a string musical instrument that has been around for thousands of years. Variations of the harp can be found in traditional African, Asian and some European music. Although mastery of the harp can take several years, it remains an instrument that you can learn to play rather easily in comparison to other strings instruments such as the violin or guitar.
The harp is an easy instrument to learn as you do not need any prior formal training to be able to play one, you can quickly learn how to play pieces such as ‘Joy To The World’ in a matter of minutes. You also do not need to rely on a chord chart when you’re playing the harp.
There are endless online resources to make playing the harp easier for you and YouTube tutorials are always a great place to start as they are free and informative.
The saxophone is without a doubt an instrument that stands out thanks to its beautiful sound and history in music. Some of the most praised musicians in history were saxophonists such as John Coltrane, Kenny G, Ornette Coleman, and Lester Young, amongst many more.
In order to become a master of the sax, it will take you a lot of practice, but the saxophone is the easiest woodwind instrument you can learn. Unlike other woodwind instruments such as the clarinet, you do not have to press complex key combinations.
The saxophone is undeniably one of the sexiest instruments in existence than in itself makes learning how to play the sax a bonus.
Tips To Learning An Instrument Faster
Below is a list of tips to help you on your journey of learning a new instrument. These tips are not magical hacks but rather pointers that will make it easier for you to master your instrument of choice.
Set A Practice Routine
The practice is the most surefire way of progressing in any field, this includes learning a new musical instrument as well. Setting a practice routine and sticking to it will not only help you learn your instrument faster, but it will also make the process much easier.
Allow yourself a realistic practice schedule that you can stick to, this could be anywhere between 30 mins – 1 hour daily. This will make a world of difference and with each week your instrument will feel much easier to play
Buy A Quality Instrument
This may seem like a no brainer but buying a relatively well-built instrument will make your playing experience that much easier and in turn help you learn how to play even faster.
Although financial restrictions may stop you from buying your preferred instrument of choice, you can always purchase a second-hand instrument that is still in good condition or you could always lease/hire an instrument.
Play With Others
In the music world, there is a term we use that’s referred to as ‘woodshedding’. This typically happens when a musician locks themselves away and spends an hour working on their music until they are happy with the final results.
At some stage in your musical journey, you will no doubt have some periods of woodshedding but as a new beginner, it is important to balance this with playing with other musicians. Jamming along with others will make it significantly easier to learn how to play your instrument as you will be able to focus on aspects such as your rhythm and collaboration. You can also pick up new playing techniques from other musicians.
Check out Facebook to see if you can join some local music groups, these tend to regularly hold weekly jam sessions as well as workshops/seminars when you can further develop your skills and meet like-minded individuals.
When picking up a new hobby or a new skill it is easy to feel disheartened in the beginning and lose motivation to continue learning. Many new musicians tend to put unnecessary pressure on themselves by setting unrealistic goals or comparing themselves to musicians that have been playing for years.
Having fun makes the whole process of learning a new instrument easier. After all, music is meant to be fun so take things step by step and give yourself the necessary time to learn and grow.
The purpose of this guide is to give you an idea of where to start your musical journey. As we mentioned, this guide is not the ultimate authority on the easiest instruments to learn but rather it is here to help broaden your horizons and give you a clear picture of what you can learn.
Are there any other easy instruments to learn that you would suggest? Let us know in the comments!
You can check out our other guide on the hardest instruments to learn.