Steps to learning a musical instrument in 2020

If you're looking for a new hobby or skill to take through 2020 why not try learning a musical instrument?

Learning and playing an instrument has some real benefits to boosting your mood and mental health, as it sparks electrical signals using both sides of your brain.

If you've never picked up an instrument before, or just dabbled a bit where should you start?

Here are just a few options of instruments that are great for beginners and the reasons why you should consider giving them a go:

Piano

If you want to push yourself to become ambidextrous by playing bass clef with your left hand and treble clef with your right hand then this is the instrument for you.

When you have mastered the piano (or at least one tune) and happen to be in one of the many train stations that supply free pianos then you can impress an audience with your musicianship.

Artists include: Clara Schumann, Elton John & Stevie Wonder

PROS

  • Learning the piano helps improve hand-eye coordination
  • It can boost your self-esteem when you are able to play a song
  • It helps the body produce somatotropin, the human growth hormone; helping to improve your energy levels
  • You can play almost any song on the piano
  • Pianos are becoming more accessible at places such as train stations

CONS

  • Expensive to buy your own
  • You can’t transport acoustic pianos with ease
  • Tuning a piano is expensive
  • Multitasking and being able to read treble and bass clef at the same time may be a daunting idea to new starters
  • You have to have good theory knowledge to read music
Could you take up the piano in 2020?

Trombone

This may seem like an odd choice but the trombone is an amazing instrument that can help strengthen your breathing and also provide entertainment when played well or badly in some cases.

Artists include: Trombone Shorty, Glenn Miller & Carol Jarvis

PROS

  • Improve breath control
  • Can help dictation as your embouchure becomes stronger
  • P-bones (Plastic Trombones) are an alternative that is slightly cheaper for people starting out
  • Easier to make a noise than other brass instruments
  • Easy to learn the positions and where the notes are

CONS

  • Large Instrument to carry around
  • Expensive to buy an instrument
  • Need to be able to reach all the positions to play all the notes
  • Harder to play fast moving notes
  • Requires good lungs to get any notes out

Ukulele

This is a fairly cheap instrument with soft strings that when played well can accompany almost any vocalist.

Most ukuleles’ are small, lightweight and easy to transport as well as being quiet so, if you are looking to learn almost anywhere then this can be a great instrument to start with.

Artists include: Jason Mraz, Taylor Swift & Israel Kamakawiwo’ole

PROS

  • Soft strings so that you don’t end up with blisters so can practice for longer
  • Quiet so can practice almost anywhere without annoying anyone
  • Lightweight so you can transport it around easily
  • It is small and compact so you can take it with you wherever you are going
  • The ukulele is cheaper than most instruments so if you are feeling the effect of all the presents you have bought then this is a good option

CONS

  • Requires good dexterity which can be hard for lots of people
  • If you are seen holding the ukulele then get ready for the endless requests to play songs you might not have learnt
  • The range of tone is smaller than other instruments
  • If you play ukulele then everyone expects you to be able to sing
  • The ukulele is a very popular instrument so if you are looking to be different then maybe another instrument is more suited

Drums

Can you imagine a world without drummers?

They keep the tempo and energy of most music and are an integral part of rock groups.

Depending on the type of music or drum they can be played individually or as a set.

Artists include: Ringo Starr, Rick Allen & Demetra Plakas

PROS

  • Improves your sense of rhythm and time management skills
  • Learn to multitask by tapping your feet and moving your arms whilst keeping in time
  • No need to pay for the gym as drumming is great for fitness
  • Drumming releases endorphins that help with pain relief
  • Electronic kits are available as well

CONS

  • Expensive to buy all the equipment
  • Transporting all the kit can be a logistical nightmare and then putting it up and taking it down…
  • Finding a place to practice can be a challenge without annoying other people
  • Pressure of getting it right especially in a band
  • Requires a natural sense of rhythm.

Guitar

One of the main instruments in any band, learn to multitask and play as loud or quiet as you like with electric or acoustic versions.

Artists include: Jimi Hendrix, Nile Rodgers & Sister Rosetta Tharpe

PROS

  • Acoustic and electric options
  • Accompany any singer
  • Song writing
  • If you are spotted then you can start making money
  • Improve your coordination

CONS

  • Lots of additional costs such as pedals and amps
  • Get ready for your figures to be red and skinless
  • Lots of competition
  • Heavy and big so transporting guitars around can be a challenge
  • Expectation to be able to sing

Vocals

Whether you are bringing out your inner Whitney Houston or bringing out your Luciano Pavarotti this is an instrument that is the most accessible and free for everyone to have a go.

Singing can be done in the shower, whilst out walking or in a choir/band but the most important lesson is that you have to be confident in your own ability no matter what your critics say.

Artists include:

Ed Sheeran, Aretha Franklin & Elvis Presley

PROS

  • It is free
  • Practice when you want and where you want
  • Front person in a band
  • Perform with choirs
  • Any genre

CONS

  • Expectation to sing any style and know every song
  • If you are starting and you don’t know how to use your vocal chords properly then you can damage them
  • It can be annoying for other people if you are singing out of tune
  • Paying for lessons in order to improve
  • Face criticism from everyone
The ukulele. Small, compact and portable.
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