Easiest Instrument to Learn

Question: What is the easiest musical instrument to learn?

 

There are opinions all over the place and lots of myths about how difficult or easy it is to learn to play a particular musical instrument. When I was a child I was told by someone that the flute was the hardest to learn. Someone else clearly stated that the violin was by far the most difficult to learn.

As a musician and as a private music education specialist I can offer some solid thoughts that will be helpful.

It helps to be inwardly motivated to play a particular instrument. For example, if you are really excited when you watch and/or listen to someone playing the drums, you should consider learning to play the drums. Don’t worry about being uncoordinated – everyone is uncoordinated until they smooth things out. This only comes through a great deal of repetition (practice).



Look at it this way. Anything you learn that is new to you is easy as long as you have someone to teach you, a course to follow, and you engage in the activity on a very regular basis. When someone wants to become good at an athletic activity, they know that they need to engage in their chosen activity every day or they will never be any good at it.

By the same token, anything that is new to you is hard if you just try a little here and there. Then you are likely to say something like, “I’m no good at this. I don’t know why I bothered to even try.”

harmonica
Harmonicas

Now a little about the differences in musical instruments: Some instruments are just plain easy in my opinion. The harmonica, the recorder (plastic or wood flute) are very easy in that they don’t require a lot of information or how-to’s in order to start playing. This is why one of the first instruments to be introduced to elementary school children is often the recorder. And the harmonica is generally self-taught using a good instruction book. You can also find lots of good video instructions on YouTube.

The five string banjo seems to be gaining popularity once again. The conventional tuning is a G chord. When the strings are played/strummed without pressing anything down on the neck it is called an “Open” chord. This means you can “Bar” your left-hand index finger across any position on the fret board and you will be able to strum a major chord. With just a couple of lessons you can easily learn to play basic chords as well as some basic banjo techniques such as the “Roll.” This makes the banjo an easy instrument to learn!

The guitar can be very difficult for children under seven years of age because at this age most children lack the physical dexterity and finger strength to successfully play the guitar. Children who are at least seven years old can do very well on the guitar – electric OR acoustic.

Five String Banjo
Five String Banjo

Experience has taught us that that the following is a reasonable guide to starting ages for various types of one-on-one music lessons:

  • Piano/Electronic Keyboard – age 5 and up
  • Guitar, acoustic or electric – age 7 and up
  • Banjo – age 10 and up
  • Drums, Percussion, Steel Drum – age 7 and up
  • Brass & Woodwind – age 10 and up
  • Stringed Instruments (violin, cello, etc.) – age 5 and up
  • Accordion – age 10 and up
  • Vocal, Singing Lessons – age 10 and up

 

Have you considered the melodica? This is a great instrument, lots of fun and very easy to play!

Check out Melodica World for more.

Melodicas
Melodicas

What’s the easiest instrument to learn? It’s usually going to be the one that motivates you the most. Almost anyone can learn to play a musical instrument. Find a good teacher and take it one step at a time. You’ll do great! If you don’t have access to a good private music instructor in your area, make use of the tons of resources you can find easily online. Even some free Apps for your phone can be a great help. Enjoy!

For private music lessons in the Fort Myers FL Area: www.MrMusicStore.com

You may be interested in, “Best Kind of Guitar for Lessons.”

You may also be interested in, “Cost of Music Lessons.”

Click here to check out my post, “Music Lessons for Children.”

 

Bob Lucas on Google Plus

Best Guitar for Lessons

What is the best guitar for lessons?

You’ve decided to learn to play guitar. Congratulations!

There are two main types of guitars used for music lessons, acoustic and electric. A “regular” guitar that produces all of the sound naturally without the need for amplification is considered to be “Acoustic.” Grand pianos violins and conventional drums are also good examples of Acoustic instruments because they naturally create their sound, usually by vibrations amplified by the wood construction of the instrument.

Steel String Acoustic Guitar for Lessons
Steel String Acoustic

Acoustic guitars also come in various types and styles.

  • Steel String – probably the most popular and versatile, tends to be louder and brighter-sounding… good for almost all styles of music and almost always played with a flat pick in the right hand.
  • Classical – nylon strings, softer to the touch, wider finger board. It produces a mellower, softer sound and played with fingers on the right hand instead of a pick.
  • Acoustic Electric – acoustic guitar equipped with electronics that allow for connection to an amplifier or sound system. This is great for live performances.
  • Hollow Body Electric – basically an electric guitar but with a hollow or semi-hollow body. This is mostly a stylistic distinction as the hollow body doesn’t affect the amplified sound. Think B.B. King!
Classical Guitar for Lessons
Classical

 

The most common type of Electric Guitar is the Solid Body. These electric guitars can only be heard up close and in a very quiet room. They are designed to produce sound through pickups mounted on the body of the instrument. These pickups contain electromagnets which respond to the vibration of the strings and create an electrical signal that is then sent through a guitar cable to an amplifier or sound system.

Solid Body Electric for Lessons
Solid Body Electric

 

 

Ok, so what’s the best kind of guitar to use for practicing my lessons?

 

Any guitar in decent working condition will suffice for lessons and for practice since the tuning and fingering positions are the same regardless of the type of guitar.

 

Acoustic Electric
Acoustic Electric

You may be interested in my post, “Easiest Musical Instrument to Learn.”

 

Many professional instructors insist that their students learn on a Classical guitar with nylon strings. This is appropriate if your focus is Classical training with a emphasis on music theory and application.

The Classical guitar is also recommended because of the wider fingerboard which gives your fingers more room to press down the needed positions as well as strings that are softer to the touch. For beginners, steel strings can make your finger tips quite sore for the first couple of weeks!

At Mr Music we have several guitar instructors that teach on all types of guitars. If a student already has an electric guitar for example, we will not ask them to buy a classical guitar – they can use whatever instrument they have, as long as it is in good working condition.

One very important note: Never leave a musical instrument in a hot vehicle! Extreme heat will destroy the instrument, usually beyond repair.

Be sure you have a decent guitar bag or case in which to transport your instrument. To find out about private guitar lessons in the Fort Myers FL area, please click here.

Your instructor will be happy to answer any questions you have regarding tuning and care of your guitar.

The best guitar for lessons is one that where the strings are easy to press down and the instrument will stay reasonably in tune. Enjoy!

Check out “When to Change Guitar Strings”

or “Music Lessons on More than One Instrument at a Time.”

You may also be interested in “Cost of Music Lessons.”

 

When to Change Guitar Strings

Question: How often do I need to change my guitar strings?

Answer: How often you need to change guitar strings depends on the following factors:

  • How much and how often you play
  • Playing Style
  • Environmental Conditions
  • Your Particular Skin (ph Level and Perspiration)
  • Type of Instrument
  • Personal Preference

 

How Much and How Often You Play

Some guitar players are able to successfully use the same set of strings for months, even years! If you’re doing live performances using a guitar for rhythm or lead, I recommend you change your strings before every performance or at the very least, once a week.

Playing Style

If you do a lot of lead solos and bending of the strings, you will want to change your strings at least once a week – if you play several times a week.

Environmental Conditions

Warmer climates tend to cause strings to break down more quickly. This is probably because of high humidity levels and increased perspiration.

Your Skin

Some people have very high acid (ph) levels in their perspiration. This is probably the number one cause of strings wearing out quickly. If this is you, the best thing is to keep a couple of dry towels handy to wipe down the strings each time you put the instrument on a stand or in a case.

Type of Instrument

Bass guitar players can often go much longer between re-strings because the strings are much thicker/heavier and do not break down as quickly.

Personal Preference

If your strings sound OK but are discolored (gray or black areas), this is most likely due to skin and/or environmental conditions. You may want to install a fresh set of strings because the discoloration is an indication that the strings are starting to wear out.

Your Thoughts

  • What results have you experienced with guitar strings?
  • How often do you change your strings?
  • Have you found any tricks that work well for you? Share them in the comments below.

 

 

Rent or Buy Band Instrument?

Band-Instruments-3For families who have students participating in a school band program, one of the considerations will be whether is better to rent or buy a band instrument.

Is it better to rent or buy?

For most middle school first year band students the obvious choice is to rent the instrument.

This gives the child an opportunity to be exposed to music education and to learn the basics of playing a musical instrument.

Any good rental program will apply the rental portion of each monthly payment to the purchase price. They will also include a substantial discount for early payoff.

Your student can have the best at an affordable price.
Your student can have the best at an affordable price.

Most rental programs even allow you to exchange for a different instrument if needed while having the rent you paid on the first instrument apply to the exchanged instrument. This is important in case you decide to keep the instrument and eventually pay it off.

After about three to six months, if your student wants to continue playing the instrument and is committed to lessons and most of all practice at home, I recommend that you return the rental and immediately purchase a new or used instrument. You may save hundreds of dollars depending on the particular instrument you are purchasing.

For second year or high school band students, it is usually better to purchase your instrument outright. Most dealers will include a strong warranty with the purchased instrument and again, you’ll save a lot of money!

For parents who live in Lee County Florida and surrounding counties, contact Mr Music, Inc. in Fort Myers. The phone number is (239) 561-5611 and the website is www.MrMusicStore.com. Click here to order online!

Mr Music is Lee County’s oldest music store, established in 1971. We offer new and used instruments, rentals, repairs, lesson books, music stands, maintenance accessories and supplies such as reeds, mouthpieces, etc.

Cost of Music Lessons

Cost of Music Lessons

The cost of music lessons varies greatly. One can search online for music lessons and find super low rates advertised, even for in-home lessons. Be careful.

As with any service, quality also varies greatly. Be sure you are dealing with someone who is trustworthy, reputable, and who can provide excellent references. Be extra careful when inviting a service provider into your home to work with a child!

 

Most quality private music lessons range between $20.00 and $45.00 per half-hour.

 

Here are some things to consider:

Lesson Location: Do you go to the instructor or does the instructor come to you? Most instructors who offer in-home lessons charge for travel time and/or mileage.

Duration: The default for most music lessons is 30 minutes, once a week. Some studios offer 45 minute and hour-long lessons.

Packages: You may find an instructor or music academy that offers discounts for purchasing multiple lessons in advance. Make sure you are clear about refund policies, cancellation and no-show policies.

Books and Supplies: Unless you are scheduling lessons with an academy that operates by semesters and includes all materials in the cost of tuition, you need to be prepared to purchase lesson and supplemental books and supplies. These are usually very inexpensive. Beginning lesson books range from around $6.00 to $20.00. It’s also a good idea to have a folder with blank notebook paper inside and a pencil at every lesson.

Your instructor may also recommend that you purchase a metronome. If you are a guitar student you will want an electronic tuner as well. You can buy a very good quality tuner/metronome device for under $30.00.

If you are in the Fort Myers FL area please visit Mr Music, Inc. for information about private music lessons, instrument, repairs, books and supplies. The website is www.mrmusicstore.com

Learning music is fun! Whether you’re an adult who has always had a dream of learning to play an instrument, or a parent interested in getting your child started on their musical journey, music lessons with the right teacher can set the stage for a lifetime of enjoyment.

With a private music instructor you get one-on-one guidance from a professional, a customized lesson plan, and someone to hold you accountable. And as most musicians will tell you, the investment you make in your training is completely worth it when you start seeing improvements.

You may also be interested in: The Easiest Musical Instrument to Learn

Or check out: The Best Kind of Guitar for Lessons

 

Bob Lucas on Google Plus

Before Registering for Music Lessons

Here are the Top 5 things you should know before signing up for private music lessons.

 

1. Private music lessons are not just for children.

It is widely accepted that children learn faster than adults. While they may have a shorter attention span, children tend to focus on whatever they’re doing in the moment. Children who are able to sit and focus for 30 minutes at a time, under the guidance of a professional music instructor tend to learn new ideas and motor skills very quickly.

Adults typically have a longer attention span than children but they are likely to have less short term focus. This is probably due to the fact that adults have many other things on their minds at any given time. Their minds are switching quickly from thoughts of work or business to thoughts of today’s schedule or agenda or any number of other things.

The bottom line is that children and adults do very well with learning to play a musical instrument if they attend weekly lessons and have a good practice habit at home. Almost anyone can block out other thoughts and responsibilities for a few minutes a day.

2. Learning to play music is good therapy.

Playing a musical instrument helps with

  • Focus and Concentration
  • Self Discipline
  • Developing Motor Skills
  • Relaxation
  • Sense of Accomplishment

Many people want to be able to play along with another person, in a group or even as part of an orchestra. Combining your newly developed musical skills with those of other musicians can be rewarding beyond description!

3. Very young children may not yet be ready for private music lessons.

Some parents are blessed with a child who displays a great amount of artistic ability at a very young age. Some toddlers are very musical leading parents to want to give them every opportunity to develop their talents. Children under the age of five can be exposed to musical instruments in many ways and be encouraged to learn all about different styles of music and various types of musical instruments.

When a child is able to recite the alphabet and has learned some basic reading skills, he or she may be ready to work with a professional music instructor. This usually happens around age four or five. Your child should also possess some communication skills and be able to remember and follow basic instructions.

If you have a child who is four or five years old and you feel she may be ready for lessons, you can schedule a one-time trial lesson and let the instructor tell you if they feel that the child can benefit from private lessons – or if they should wait a while, usually another year.

Click HERE for my blog post on the subject of Music Lessons for Children.

 

4. How to find a really good music teacher or studio.

I have known of musicians who are very accomplished on their instrument but make poor teachers. They tend to be more likely to show the student what to do and expect the student to simply do it. The teacher will become frustrated after showing a technique muliple times only to discover that the student “just doesn’t get it.”

A good music instructor will have a plan and a program to follow and will help the student to understand what they are doing as well as showing them how to do it. The student will have a lesson book or some other written material to take home and will know exactly what to practice and how to practice. This approach almost guarantees success for any student who is willing to put in a few minutes each day going over the material and practicing the physical movements required to play the instrument.

A professional instructor will never become frustrated with the pace of the student because the student will only be expected to attend the lesson and follow and practice a few simple directions. There will never be any unrealistic expectations placed on the student. There is no frustration on the part of the instructor. A professional instructor knows that students who do not attend lessons and practice regularly at home will quickly drop out, perhaps finding that music lessons aren’t for them – or that it’s possibly not the right time. In other words, the students who don’t practice and make reasonable progress will weed themselves out.

10672039_728038087245130_5174209964553970063_n5. Going to a professional music studio or academy is better than having a tutor come to your home.

This is undoubtedly an argumentative statement and in-home tutors will probably disagree. I admit my bias because I work with students in a private studio, but I can give you a few compelling reasons for my statement:

  • By taking your child (or yourself) to a music studio each week, you are leaving your normal comfort zone and going into an environment that is designed for the success of students.
  • The studio will always have all the support materials and supplies on hand. Whether it’s a lesson book, supplemental book, tuner, metronome, music stand or some other accessory that will benefit you, the professional studio will have these items in stock at all times.
  • You will be around others who are learning just like you. At a studio or academy, even if it’s just in passing each week, you will see other people who are learning to play music. This will give you the feeling of being part of something bigger.
  • A professional studio is more likely to have regular recitals and with a larger group of students and much larger audience! Performance in front of an audience is an important part of the learning process as it helps you to focus more intently on one particular piece of music. As you master your recital piece in preparation for the big day, you will at the same time begin to develop the ability to master almost anything you desire! Recitals are also very important for family members and friends to see and hear your progress. Their genuine pride increases your own personal feelings of accomplishment and pride.

Do you want to learn to play music? You can. Just start! If you can’t find a great studio in your area, then get hold of an instrument and use whatever resources you can and start playing today! There are lots of very good instructional videos available for free online. You might also consider joining a music group in your area such as a community band, choral group or a church worship group. Even with the most basic music skills you can find lots of support and enjoyment near where you live.

Please add your thoughts, ideas and questions in the comments section below.

Music Gifts

Finding a Gift for a Musician or Student

For the holiday season or for any occasion, you can find great gifts that the musician or music student on your list will love to receive. Here are some of my thoughts on the subject along with some specific suggestions.

Buy Local

If you’re purchasing a musical instrument, buy it from your local music shop and not online. The only exception to this would be beginner’s electronic keyboard and/or musical Apps and software. When shopping for a guitar, violin, banjo, saxophone, clarinet and any other instrument, you really need to buy it from a dealer in your area. Why? Musical instrument dealers can offer expert assistance about how to properly care for your new instrument and they can help you with your questions and any repair needs that come up after the sale. You’ll get good or better quality instruments when buying local and even more importantly, you’ll get great service.

NOTE: When you go to a music instrument shop and start asking questions, if the person to whom you are talking is knowledgeable and helpful, then you’re in the right place. If they don’t seem to know the answers or talk too much without really listening to you, chances are you’re in the wrong place!

Fort Myers, FL Area: www.MrMusicStore.com

Buy Gift Certificates or Gift Cards for Musical Instruments

For experienced guitar players, violin or other stringed instruments players, consider purchasing a gift certificate. If the student or musician has been playing for several years chances are they have developed some strong personal preferences about their instrument. This way your musician can come in to the shop and pick out an instrument that suits his/her particular needs and taste. Gift certificates are also great if you’re buying for a music lover who does not live near you.

If you live in the Fort Myers Florida area, you find great musical gifts at Mr Music on Metro Pkwy. www.MrMusicStore.com

Should you pay extra for a warranty?

Most, if not all new musical instruments come with a good manufacturer’s warranty. If the dealer is wanting to sell you a warranty, be careful. This is personal decision for you, but in my opinion it’s not necessary to pay extra for a warranty that should already be included in the purchase price. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about this and shop around!

Gift Ideas for Musicians and Music Students

All Musicians

  • private lessons
  • gift certificates
  • song books
  • lesson and supplemental books
  • music stand

Guitar Player

  • guitar
  • strap
  • capo
  • string sets
  • private lessons
  • guitar stand
  • music stand
  • picks
  • pick holder
  • guitar cable
  • amplifier
  • song book
  • gift certificate

Pianist or Piano Student

  • song book
  • full size digital console piano

Vocalist / Singer

  • microphone
  • wireless mic
  • mic stand

Drummer / Percussionist / Drum Student

  • drum sticks
  • drum brushes
  • drum set
  • practice pad
  • lesson book

Brass / Woodwind Player

  • maintenance kit
  • valve oil
  • slide oil
  • tuning slide grease
  • cork grease
  • reeds

Violin / Viola / Cello Musicians & Students

  • strings
  • bow
  • rosin
  • shoulder rest

What music gift ideas can you think of? Add your comments below!

20 Ways to Help Your Child with Music Education

practice-clarinet

1. Celebrate their decision to bring music into their life and participate in a school music program.

2. Read the literature brought home from school and determine what is required to get started.

3. If there is an open house or parent meeting, plan to attend with your child.

4. Acquire a musical instrument that is in proper playing condition. Investigate rent-to-own programs.

5. Be sure your child has any required method books or learning materials prior to the first day of class.

6. Provide a suitable time and place for home practice. Don’t cast them out to the garage!

7. Encourage and support practice. That awful noise will only turn into beautiful music with practice.

8. Develop a rapport with the music educator. Ask for their list of ways you can help your child.

9. Get involved in booster and fundraising organizations. It’s quality time invested into a great cause.

10. Be generous with your acknowledgements of your child’s progress. Learning to play isn’t easy!

11. Don’t rule out learning to play, yourself. Music making is an extremely rewarding experience.

12. Record your child’s home practices on tape/cd. Listen with them and praise their improvements.

13. Enhance their interest by purchasing current/popular sheet music at your local music store.

14. DO NOT, under any circumstance, miss their first public performance. This is their big day.

15. Offer rewards for the tough hurdles. Research upgrade instruments when the time is right.

16. If your child is struggling, don’t give up. Seek the advice of the music director and offer your help.

17. Don’t push from one side, but rather support from all angles. Rally the entire family behind the effort.

18. Keep the instrument in good working order. An instrument in disrepair slows your child’s progress

19. Be aware of school budget hearings. Music programs are usually the first cut when cash gets tight

20. Learning to play takes patience, time and effort. Progress can be slow at times, which can lead to frustration and lost interest. You have to remember that we’re competing with computers, video games, television, sports and time with friends. Neither your child nor their teacher can do this alone. They need your support, encouragement and participation. The rewards are well worth your investment of time & finances. Get involved and enjoy this time with your child!