What Instrument Should You Learn First?

Last updated on April 15th, 2022 at 10:20 pm

Playing a musical instrument is one of the most rewarding things you can ever learn to do. This is because playing an instrument is not only a skill that can take you places in life, but it is also an outlet for your creative energies.

Before you jump in and start composing masterpieces, however, it’s important that you find the right instrument for you.

Learning to play a musical instrument isn’t always easy. Not to mention some instruments are better for beginners than others.

Before we begin, I’d like to mention Masterclass. They have a ton of great video lessons taught by world-renowned singers and muscians. If you’re looking to catapult your skills, Masterclass is the place to go.

Read on to learn more about what beginner instrument you should learn first so that you can become a successful musician.

1. Guitar

You probably aren’t surprised to see guitar first on this list. The guitar is one of the most popular instruments to play and is generally suitable for anyone of any age to learn how to play.

Whether you are old or young, don’t be scared to try to play guitar. They come in many different sizes and styles, and much of what you learn on the guitar (such as music theory) can later be used in learning another instrument.

For really young children, they can start playing on a smaller size guitar, or even if that’s still too big, begin by playing on the ukulele, and later change over to the guitar if they find they enjoy playing.

Besides its popularity, the guitar is also fun to play because it can be played and performed solo. This means that if you want to make money from playing music, the guitar is a great place to start while you network and work on getting your foot in the door.

Just keep in mind that you should start out with an acoustic guitar and save the electric guitar for when you have a little more experience. Once you know how to play the guitar, you’ll be able to switch over to the bass guitar later in life with no issue.

2. Piano 

The piano is another instrument like the guitar that teaches skills and techniques that can later transfer to other instruments. This makes it a popular choice among beginning musicians starting out at a young age.

Unlike the guitar, however, playing the piano will take some significant work and practice in order to master. You also will need some dexterity and excellent fine motor skills to master playing a song with both hands at the same time.

You are never too old or too young to learn how to play the piano. And it is fairly easy to find a piano teacher offering piano lessons that is willing to teach kids as young as 4 years old how to play. Pianos are also great performing instruments(think of Elton John!) and are ideal for the solo player.

In the past, pianos were only available as giant wooden instruments that cost quite a few dollars to add to your home décor.

In the modern-day, you can find an electric piano that sounds just like a regular piano for pretty cheap, so this is a great instrument to test out if you aren’t sure you want to play an instrument at all.

3. Flute

Third on the list is the wind instrument the flute. The flute isn’t near as versatile as the piano or guitar, but it is very easy to learn. It is one of the best musical instruments to learn however because it is easy to assemble, easy to transport, and generally affordable.

That being said, the flute isn’t good for all ages. It’s not usually recommended for kids under the age of 10 to play the flute, and learners in their later years might find the breathing patterns too difficult on their lungs.

There is also a lot of competition in the flute playing world; therefore if you are looking to make a career out of music, know that you will have to perfect your craft in order to get hired. Either way, the flute is an instrument that is a lot of fun to play, and you will love every minute of it!

4. Violin

Parents love to make jokes about their kids learning to play string instruments, but the reality is, the violin is a perfect instrument for a beginner. It is small and transportable like the flute, but definitely, more of an initial investment than other instruments as violins aren’t cheap.

The violin is easy to learn, although there is a bit of a curve to get started (hence the jokes between parents about the soundproof room), but most people find they are able to overcome this squeaky stage within a few weeks of practice.

Violins come in multiple shapes and sizes, making them another of the instruments on this list that are suitable for kids as young as six.

And if you are truly able to learn how to play the violin, you will have no problem finding work as violinists are always in demand in many ensembles around the world. Plus, if you want to learn how to play the cello or bass later, you’ll find this transition is quite easy.

5. Clarinet

The clarinet is the second wind instrument to make this list, and although it might be slightly harder than the flute to pick up, it is generally suitable for anyone over the age of ten to learn to play.

The cool thing about the clarinet is, even though it is popular and sometimes hard to find jobs as a clarinet player, it is what is known as a transitional instrument.

This means players find they are easily able to switch from the clarinet to another instrument later on. Many clarinet players go on to play the saxophone or flute.

A clarinet is a little more expensive than the flute and probably the hardest instrument on this list to find music lessons for.

If it is your child learning to play the clarinet, you should expect to go through quite a few reeds (which are used for the mouthpiece) as they learn to play.

6. Drums

Getting a drum kit for Christmas was every kid’s dream at some point. It’s easy to see why when you consider that drums are a fairly easy instrument to learn! Like the piano, playing the drums will require some dexterity. And you’ll need a good sense of rhythm as well.

Those who are able to master the drums will never have a problem finding work, as drummers are high in demand for all types of bands as well as in different symphonies around the world.

You are never too old or too young to start playing the drums. If it’s your child interested in playing the drums, this is definitely when you want to look into a soundproof room!

Like many of the other instruments on this list, the drums are buildable. Not necessarily to other instruments, but you can start your child off with one snare drum then add to their drum kit as they get better and better at playing the drums.

Choosing the Right Instrument

Now that you have an idea of the five easiest instruments to play let’s discuss a little bit on how you choose the one that is right for you.

1. Know Where You Want to End Up

Maybe your dream is to play a brass instrument, or maybe something giant like the double bass. Either way, you will want your first instrument to be something that will lead you to your goal instrument.

2. Play the Style of Music You Enjoy

Learning to play an instrument will not be enjoyable if you are playing music you hate. This is why you should pick an instrument that fits in your favorite songs–this way you can practice by learning your playlist first!

For example, if you are into classical music, you should pick the piano. But if you like rock music, the classical guitar is definitely where you want to start.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Try a Couple Different Instruments

No one knows exactly what they will like when they embark on a journey to learn how to play an instrument. Just because you start out on one instrument doesn’t mean you can’t later switch to a new instrument.

4. Learning to Read Sheet Music

Besides learning an instrument that you can build on (like learning the violin to play the cello), you also need to take into account that you will want to learn to read sheet music as you play.

And if you are planning to switch to a different instrument later, you’ll want to learn to read that type of sheet music.

You may not realize it, but there are four different music clefs. And each one reads slightly differently. So for those with the goal of playing an instrument like the tuba, you’ll want to start with an instrument that uses the bass clef.

The bottom half of the piano, the bass guitar, cello, and trombone all use the bass clef.

Ready, Set, Learn How to Play!

By now you should have a pretty good idea of the instrument that you want to learn how to play. Even if you don’t see the instrument you want to play on this list, consider starting with one of these and later switching to the musical instrument of your dreams.

Just be sure you take the style of music you enjoy, as well as learning to read sheet music into account as you make your decision, and before you know it, you will have an amazing new hobby that lets you share your creativity with the world!


Written by Hope Davis

Long-time music lover Hope became a full-time writer in 2020 after being laid off from her regular job due to COVID-19. She now spends her time traveling the world to see her favorite bands while writing about them!


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