Learning to Play an Instrument: 5 Beginner Tips to Get Started

Music schools and private tutors see dozens of students start a new instrument every year, only to give up within a couple of months. And that’s speaking nothing of the number of people who buy an instrument only to leave it gathering dust after just a few weeks of practice.

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There is nothing wrong with trying a hobby and then stopping if you don’t like it. However, if you like the idea of playing an instrument and want to make sure you’ll stick with the next one you try, here are some tips that can help strengthen your commitment.

1 – Start with what you like

You don’t have to stick with your first instrument for life. In fact, a lot of music theory can be translated between various instruments, and it’s not uncommon for lifelong musicians to know the basics of playing various instruments. Even if they have a main instrument, they are dedicated to.

When picking what to learn first, choose an instrument you like the sound of and one that feels good to play. And be honest with your assessment. Maybe playing the violin would impress your family or make you sound more sophisticated at cocktail parties, but if none of the songs on your phone include violin tracks, you’re better off starting with something else.

2 – Set time aside for practice

Don’t just say you’re going to practice every day or choose a random number of hours to practice a week. It’s better to decide when, where, and how you’ll practice — down to the spot you’ll sit and what you will be doing during that practice. Concrete plans are much easier to execute and turn into a habit.

3 – Get the right tools

There is a degree of discomfort associated with learning any new instrument. Getting your muscle memory accustomed to what you are trying to do is hard work, always. That said, you can also make your life a lot harder by choosing the wrong tools and equipment.

Make sure your chair is comfortable, shop for instruments that are known to be beginner-friendly, and more. There’s even merit to choosing the right pick or choosing the right drumstick size, as this guide comparing 5a vs 5b drumsticks shows. Learning how to play an instrument is hard enough on its own; don’t put up with any obstacles that don’t need to be there.

4 – Find a teacher

Attending music classes or finding a private tutor is generally a good idea when picking up a new instrument. Having someone experience supervising you is a good way to make sure you’re not building bad habits and making other training mistakes.

A teacher can also help you progress faster by making corrections and suggesting drills. Making progress is a good way to stay motivated; it’s hard to keep practicing if it feels like nothing is improving.

5 – Connect with others

Meeting other musicians and music students is a good way to stay motivated and keep practicing. These connections can also help you learn more about your instrument, as well as learn more about music in general. Keep an eye out for opportunities to hang out with other music enthusiasts in your area. 

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