Choosing Your Instrument

Did you wake up this morning and think, man, I really have to learn to play the mandolin. It rarely works that way for beginning students, so here are a few ideas to help you choose that first instrument.

1. Interest. If you have always wanted to play the piano, then piano is probably the instrument for you. Maybe you love jazz music, so you would rather learn the trumpet. Evaluate the types of music you enjoy, too. If you hate polka, accordion might not be your first choice.

2. Research. A trip to the library, symphony, or local city band can give you ideas about what different instruments sound like. You can also check out your music store, either local or online. YouTube is a good reference to see music of all kinds. You are looking to answer two questions: (1) What kind of music would I like to play? (2) What instrument seems as if it would fit me?

3. Try it! Music stores and studios allow you to try before you buy. If your fingers less than dexterous, the guitar may provide hours of frustration, while those drums taunting you from the corner might be the better choice. If the thought of emptying spit out of a valve disgusts you, you might avoid the saxophone no matter how good the idea seems otherwise.

4. Practical considerations. Take physical size and weight of an instrument into account, along with the space necessary to haul it or store it. If your petite ten-year-old daughter proclaims that she simply must play a tuba, you probably should take her to the store and have her just hold one up for a while to see if that is really going to work. If you live in an apartment on the top floor, there may be a hefty fee on top of the purchase price to get your baby grand up there. Remember there is nothing wrong with buying used, and it can be a powerful incentive to kids to practice to get that shiny new model.

An instrument needs to suit you and your lifestyle, so choose well. Don’t forget your voice as a possibility, and as with all things, the first instrument is the hardest to learn.

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