Learning an Instrument, which one?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by grapes911, Apr 3, 2011.

  1. grapes911 Moderator emeritus

    grapes911

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    Citizens Bank Park
    #1
    My life is pretty simple – work, sleep, sports (mostly watching), food, video games, and MacRumors. I’ve decided to add some variety to my life. I created a list of things I’d like to try and learning a musical instrument is near the top of my list.

    My musical background is limited. About 20 years ago I took piano lessens for a few months. At the time I spent all my time playing sports so I didn’t put in the correct effort to properly learn the piano. The piano seemed overwhelming with all the keys and possible notes and chords. I guess that is because I didn’t put in the effort. Anyway, I'm completely starting over as I do not remember anything I learned about the piano.

    I have one friend telling me an acoustic bass guitar a great place to start and he’s willing to lend me one to get started. Another guy told me to try the drums. My sister says to get a cheap keyboard and learn the piano. I have no idea where to start. I’m very confused.

    Here are some of my requirements and concerns:
    • Cost – Being that I have little experience in this realm, I don’t want to spend a lot of money. If I enjoy it, I’ll upgrade in the near future. That being said, I do not want cheap equipment hindering my ability to learn and enjoy and instrument. $500 is probably my limit., but I’d prefer to spend much less.

    • Lessons - I’d like to start learning on the Internet or by video. I know this is probably not the best way to start but it is how I want to do it. If I enjoy it, I’ll think about paying for personal lesions later.

    • Simple – It doesn’t need to be easy. I’m willing to put in the work. Since I’m going to rely on the Internet for learning I’d prefer something simple. I'm not sure what "simple" means in terms of instruments though.

    • Reading music – I currently cannot read music. I know I’m going to have to learn. I don’t know if this is a factor or not.

    • Size – I’d prefer something portable. It doesn’t have to fit in my pocket, but I’d like to be able to take it from room-to-room fairly easily.

    • What else do I need to consider?

    So where do I start? What do I try? And why?
     
  2. Jolly Giant macrumors 6502a

    Jolly Giant

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    #2
    i suggest drums - just to annoy the neighbors :D
     
  3. SandboxGeneral Moderator

    SandboxGeneral

    Staff Member

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    #3
    I cannot play any instruments either, but I have heard that if one can learn the piano well, they can pick up any other instrument afterwards quite easily.

    My two favorite instruments are the piano and the violin. I would love to be able to play both.

    I guess look for a music shop or college music/arts department for more information on lessons etc...
     
  4. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

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    #4
    Leaning an Instrument, which one?

    A piano is the sturdiest, so that would be my choice for leaning. :p
     
  5. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030

    Macky-Mac

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    #5
    unless you have thoughts of joining a band, pick an instrument that's good to play solo.
     
  6. RITZFit macrumors 65816

    RITZFit

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    #6
    Acoustic guitar gets my vote. Its something you can play just about anywhere.
     
  7. r1ch4rd macrumors 6502a

    r1ch4rd

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    #7
    I would suggest the Saxophone! It's a bit less of an obvious choice over the guitar/bass/drums and makes a good solo instrument.

    However - technique is very important if you want to play well - getting your embrasure (the mouth technique) is key and it will be tough to get that from reading a book or watching a video.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WkS169P_Eeo
     
  8. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2006
    #8
    That would be my vote. My brother started with an electric guitar and then took some classes and they told him to get an Acoustic guitar to learn and practice on because it does not cover up mistakes as much and is better for learning/practicing.

    I think he paid like 100-200 bucks for it and it a great starter guitar.

    As for reading music it is not hard to pick up and learn. Guitar music I know is different than what most people have seen. Dumb music as well.
    I personally have never really look at either one but more in passing as I played the Trombone.
    I will say it is easy to learn how to read music.
     
  9. Rt&Dzine macrumors 6502a

    Rt&Dzine

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2008
    #9
    It's a matter of personal preference. Piano was the first instrument I learned, and that's how I learned to read music. Reading music is cool because you can figure out melodies in your head by just seeing the notes.
     
  10. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6

    ucfgrad93

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    Colorado
    #10
    You should consider renting an instrument from a local music shop. This way, if you choose an instrument you don't like you haven't spent hundreds of dollars. We rent a trumpet for my son for $20/month.
     
  11. Melrose Suspended

    Melrose

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2007
    #11
    The piano is very versatile, and relatively easy to pick up. Guitar too, which is very nice because it's portable. The guitar can be a bit trickier because you have to build your muscle memory and toughen your finger tips a bit :)

    The tin whistle is extremely easy to play and if you like Celtic music can be very rewarding also. I bought two, and was playing some of my favourite melodies within an hour, and the better you become the nicer you sound, obviously.. my point being, they're easy to play but once you get the hang of it doesn't sound like a child's toy - which a few of people I've spoken to seem to think they are. Clarke is an easy one to play with a nice mellow sound, and you can pick one up for about $20 including shipping on Amazon.
     
  12. Tonepoet, Apr 3, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2011

    Tonepoet macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2010
    #12
    First buy a diatonic harmonica. It seems to suit most of your needs. Being small enough to fit in your pocket, it exceeds your portability requirement and allows for decent to high quality builds in very low prices. I've heard a decent beginner's harmonica might cost something like $15-25 bucks. If you end up dumping it, you'll have the better majority of your budget leftover for picking up another of your choice. These qualities also make it so you won't have to get rid of it either, allowing you to pick it up and drop it freely pendant on your mood.

    Instructions can initially be as simple as telling somebody to draw in/blow out of any of the ten numbered holes at the right time, allowing you to wait on learning sheet music. I would note that since the holes are just so tiny, it's a little tricky figuring out how to restrict your breath into just one. There are several ways to go about it to suit each individual but the easiest most universally applicable way seems to be puckeriing your lips to block off the adjacent holes. I haven't gotten the hang of it myself yet but it is quite doable with a bit of concentration.

    As for online resources, I believe you'll be able to find them for any of the common household name musical instruments out there. It's mostly a manner of deciding which one to pick up first.
     
  13. snberk103, Apr 3, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2011
  14. grapes911 thread starter Moderator emeritus

    grapes911

    Joined:
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    #14
    There are many suggestions for the piano. Can I learn it on a keyboard or similar? Getting an actual piano is probably out of the question.

    I didn't think about this. I have no intention on joining a band. I guess I'd like to play something that is actually recognizable.

    The guitar is intriguing. This is very different from the bass guitar my friend wants me to try, right? They look the same, but I think they are played differently. Pros and cons?

    I didn't know renting was even an option. Maybe the cost requirement was just diminished.
     
  15. Alaerian Guest

    Alaerian

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    #15
    Let me ask this, though it may seem unrelated at first...

    How old are you?

    If you're either "well-seasoned" or enjoy classic rock, I'd suggest the flute. My father is a huge Jethro Tull fan and was able to learn to play the flute starting several years ago. The style that Ian Anderson uses to play the "rock flute" is completely different than you typical think. It's a small, portable instrument that sounds pretty damn kick ass when played the right way.

    Check out:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gzUqYeQoIck
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIIf6drhCfg (Start around 2:05)
     
  16. grapes911 thread starter Moderator emeritus

    grapes911

    Joined:
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    #16
    I'm 28. Classic rock is my favorite genre, but I also like other types as well. Jethro Tull is good. My favorites are Led Zeppelin, Eagles, the Stones, Aerosmith, ZZ Tops, CCR, and anything similar.

    I didn't even think about the flute. Another intriguing instrument.
     
  17. kainjow Moderator emeritus

    kainjow

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2000
    #17
    I vote piano. Get a cheapo small keyboard to start off with.

    The piano is IMO the best place to start, since you learn all the foundations of music on it. I also think it's easier than guitar as you only need one hand to play.

    This song brings back memories of my youth :)
     
  18. Alaerian Guest

    Alaerian

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    #18
    Not if you actually intend to make any decent music. Can you think of any quality piano music that entails the use of only 1 hand? No, Chopsticks doesn't count.

    grapes, I'm 30. Classic rock is also my favorite genre. I grew up listening to Tull and Pink Floyd. I'm also a huge fan of both Billy Joel and Elton John. With that said, I play the piano too - those guys can sure tickle the ivories like none other.

    I still maintain the flute, working up to the rock style like Ian Anderson. But, I can also throw a vote in for the piano or the acoustic guitar.

    With a piano, a small-ish keyboard will usually suffice for learning to play and read sheet music. When you become proficient, I'd recommend picking up a digital practice piano - one can be had for around (or less than) $1500.

    If you choose guitar, it gets a little more complicated. You not only need to learn to read music, but you need to learn to read tab also. Granted, tab is pretty easy to pick up - it makes sense when looking at it (see below for an example). Once you learn the basic chords, you can pretty much play any song you want, just an easier variation.
     

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  19. Macky-Mac, Apr 3, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2011

    Macky-Mac macrumors 68030

    Macky-Mac

    Joined:
    May 18, 2004
    #19
    the bass (electric or acoustic) and drums are more typically rhythm instruments in a group and less often play the lead or melody line. Guitars are used for both rhythm and lead whether played by themselves or in a group.

    It's unlikely that your grandmother is going to want to come over to hear you play the drums or bass by yourself, but maybe she can be coaxed into listening to you play the guitar. :p

    In terms of getting instruction from videos and the internet, because they're popular instruments it's going to be easier to find material for the guitar and piano as opposed to something like an acoustic bass.

    You can certainly start piano on a relatively inexpensive keyboard.
     
  20. kainjow Moderator emeritus

    kainjow

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    #20
    I'm referring to the learning process. Of course you'll eventually learn to use both but starting off you can use one. That makes things a lot easier in the beginning.
     
  21. Pink∆Floyd macrumors 68020

    Pink∆Floyd

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  22. sauced macrumors regular

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    #22
    I would say the piano/keyboard because it is probably the easiest one to learn how to read music for. Once you learn how to read/listen to notes, it's easier to transfer that over to other instruments.

    I played it when I was a kid, and it was definitely easier for me when I went to junior high and played the clarinet there.
     
  23. KeriJane macrumors 6502a

    KeriJane

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    #23
    +1 for tin whistle. ;)

    It's simple, cheap, easy to learn and easy to sound pretty good with.

    It's important to avoid getting discouraged especially right at the start so you want to sound tolerably OK fairly quickly. A tin whistle is the easiest way I can think of to accomplish this.
    Just get to your local Irish store, pick one out and have some fun with it. After you can play a little, start reading some music and try to follow along. Probably the whistle will come with a lesson sheet or you can buy one along with it.

    The piano is a wonderful and versatile instrument but harder to start with.
    If you manage to start with a piano, you'll be ahead in many ways but the chances of discouragement are higher.
    Same goes for most popular instruments... it's easy to sound really bad at first and get discouraged.

    Have Fun,
    Keri
     
  24. senseless macrumors 68000

    senseless

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    #24
    Consumer Yamaha and Casio keyboards have automatic chords that you can learn in 1 week, but it's a little lame.
     
  25. RITZFit macrumors 65816

    RITZFit

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    #25
    When I expressed some interest in playing, I was recommended an acoustic guitar because of its simplicity (more specifically a classic acoustic...somehow easier on the fingers). From what I understand, there are bass type acoustic as well, its just any guitar that doesn't need an internal amp to make sound. This is all just advise I've gotten from my musically inclined friends... still in the process of pursuing this myself :eek:
     

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