Wednesday, August 3, 2011

How to get started playing an instrument

I thought i would do a short guide on what to do if you want to learn to play an instrument. I want to do this because some of you might be inspired by the music you hear, here or elsewhere, and want to make music yourself. I think that is great so I will give you a push in that direction.
I play electric guitar, a little keyboard and have just started learning to play acoustic guitar as well so i have a bit of experience in this area.

1. Choosing an instrument to learn.

There are advantages and disadvantages to all instruments. A good place to start is finding the instruments you like to listen to. I, for example, listened to AC/DC and that got me into playing the guitar. The instruments also vary with the types of music you want to play. But a good starting point is to listen to the music you like and listening for which instrument sounds good to you.

2. Buying an instrument.

There are important factors to consider when buying your first instrument.
- Price: You may not want something too expensive at first. I would reccomend doing some research on what there is to find in different price ranges. You will have to look for something that is not too expensive, but not too bad quality either.

- Quality: For this you might want to do some research to learn how to recognize good quality. There are many articles on the internet about this. You can also ask someone who sells music instruments.

- Balance: The best thing to do is to find a nice balance of price and quality. You don't want to spend too much money on your first instrument, but a bad quality instrument is not as much fun or as easy to play as a high quality one.

- Not buying an instrument: You might also consider renting or borrowing an instrument. This might be a good choice for learning the basics. If you decide to not play, you can just return it. This can especially be a good choice if you have a friend that's willing to lend you an instrument for free.

3. Learning to play the instrument.

Now comes the fun part. But this part can also be difficult if you don't do it correctly.
Here there are also several ways to go at it:

- Getting a teacher: This is the best choice. Having an experienced teacher to guide you will help you greatly. Of course a bad teacher can hold you back, so when you choose a teacher you should choose well.
A good teacher for you should:
                          - Have some years of experience
                          - Be aware of your musical goals and have the recources to get you there.
                          - Play the style of music you want to play.
                          -Make you want to play and get better.

- Getting taught by the internet: If you don't have access to a teacher, or don't want to pay for one, this can be a great option. It can be totally free and you still get lots of good lessons. The downside to this is that the lessons aren't personalized for you. 
There are many great websites for this. Youtube for example.
Just remember that not everybody on the internet is a good teacher, or even good at the instrument they are playing.

- Learning from dvd's or books: This is not completely free, but it is inexpensive. The advantage to this is that you can be almost sure the person teaching is a professional. As for choosing the material to buy, try asking around or searching on the internet. Only the best is good enough ;)

4. Practicing.

If you want to get good at playing an instrument, this is by far the most important part. It is crucial to practice correctly. So here is how to practice your instrument

The best thing to do if you want to play great is practicing regularly. A little practice every day is a great and obtainable goal. You should at least practice 2-3 times a week if you want to see good results.

There is a great difference between playing and practicing an instrument. Every time you practice, you should have a goal and try to use the most effective method for reaching that goal.
Consider this: You are learning a song and are struggling with a part of it. You get the rest of the song perfectly. A less effective method of practising in this scenario is playing the whole song over and over again. You would then have played through the problem part 9 times in half an hour of practice.
A better way to do this is to isolate the problem part and working on only that for the same time you might have played it 90 times. This way would be 10 times more effective.

You should have some kind of plan for your practice. You should think about your long term goals as a musician and how to best reach them. If you have a teacher, he/she should be able to help you with this.
Go into a practice session with the purpose of learning or improving something you need to reach your goal.

Playing an instrument shouldn't be a chore. You will play best if you have fun doing it. If you get really bored by the serious practice you might benefit from just playing and having fun. This will help motivate you for more practice. Remember that practice opens up doors to new ways of having fun with your instrument.

There you have it. Hopefully some of you will start playing an instrument. It really is a lot of fun :)
Did this article help you in some way? Please comment and tell me if you decide to pick up an instrument :)


  1. it helped me to practice:D thanks.
    and i loves this blog!!! :)

  2. Great! I'm glad I could help :)
    And thank you! :)