2

Good morning.

I am graduating from my university in 3 months. I came across free non-credit classes by music school where I can learn any of these instruments:

  1. flute,
  2. clarinet,
  3. saxophone,
  4. trumpet,
  5. French horn,
  6. trombone,
  7. baritone,
  8. tuba,
  9. percussion.

Unfortunately, I have only 3 months and no experience of music or of these instruments at all. I am excited to tap this opportunity simply because: to develop an interesting new hobby (I am into computers so this would be completely different), and I think I have some room to incorporate this.

Any help/comments/suggestions, much appreciated.

6

There is no such thing as an "easy" instrument. Even if by flute you mean a recorder, you can find people that have brought it to a very high level, although there are reasons why the recorder is taught to children as a first instrument. Yet I doubt you meant a recorder...

Since you only have 3 months, the best you can hope for is a good introduction to an instrument that will put you on the path of a lifetime of growth and enjoyment.

These instruments are quite different from each other. I think that the best thing you can do is to try them, even if it's just for a few minutes. The choice will be personal to you; what kind of music do you like? Can you see yourself spending many, many hours playing it after the class ends? Do you have a desire to master the instrument? Can you afford to buy your own?

If it doesn't click, you will probably not pursue it once the class ends. Simply put, the best instrument for you is the one you feel like playing.

  • 3
    +1 for "play the instrument you feel like playing". – Brian THOMAS Feb 3 '18 at 19:01
3

The ultimate answer has already been stated by @BenoitLussier :

Simply put, the best instrument for you is the one you feel like playing.

The instrument that calls to you is the one you should play. Listen to recordings of the different instruments you have to choose from - try to find the voice that speaks to you.


Having said that, from the list you've put up there, in terms of both difficulty and all around utility - usable and 'fashionable' in the most genres - you'd probably want to go with the clarinet or the saxophone.

They are relatively "easy" (as has also been said, no instrument is "easy" to play well) and are often enough used in pop, jazz, rock, and classical. So you'll likely have more fun and more chances to play with one of those.

Drums are virtually ubiquitous of course, but a drum kit is a pain to lug around, and drums require a different sort of talent and skill-set than the others, which have voices and produce easily recognizable notes. Percussion is just different. (But it you're always tapping out beats on your desk, maybe drums is your thing...)

  • "sax is not a concert instrument" - this is only true in music that is older than a 100 years. The sax is vividely used in modern compositions, starting in the 20iest century. As a saxophonist that plays everything from jazz, fusion and pop down to classical music, I have to say that "concert" music on the sax is a world for itself, one that requires a different set of skills than the other styles. Most wind orchestras have saxphones in them! – Mafii Feb 6 '18 at 12:39
  • 1
    @Mafii - OK, I defer to you, as a saxophone player. Removed that. Tnx – Stinkfoot Feb 6 '18 at 15:47
0

See if you can go to a music shop where you can try all those instruments for a tiny bit and find out for yourself which one is the easiest to play.

From my experience, though, clarinet was fairly easy, and saxophone should probably be fairly easy because it's a lot like a clarinet, but I tried flute for an hour on "Swap Instruments Day" in my junior high school concert band and couldn't play a single note on it. This is why you should try before you "buy".

Percussion looks fairly easy, but be prepared to play 6 or more instruments throughout your entire musical life and 3-4 instruments per piece. (Run between them.) Drum kits are even harder--if you can't handle the "drums" in Rock Band video games, you have a large uphill climb.

0

That's a strange list.

I would have suggested piano or keyboard, because you can get started quickly and maybe learn a little bit of reading and theory. And it might be a good complement to your computer interests.

Or voice, because it's not an instrument you're just going to drop after the three months are up, and because that might be enough time to learn one or two useful things to improve your singing.

Anyway if we're stuck with that list, I'd cross off the wind instruments on the theory that you're going to spend most of your time learning how to make a note sound good and not as much time on more general music skills.

That leaves percussion. Percussion is really important. No, you won't become a great percussionist in 3 months but I think you could still learn a few useful things.

But if you have a passion for the french horn, go for it. Just be aware that this will just be a chance to try it out and you'll need to find a way to continue lessons if you want to really learn it.

  • That's a strange list - Sounds like some people on the music faculty weren't getting enough students... :) – Stinkfoot Feb 5 '18 at 18:31
  • 1
    I don't think it's a strange list. These are all common orchestra pieces. – Jason P Sallinger Feb 5 '18 at 22:16
  • 1
    I wasn't surprised by what's on the list so much as by what isn't. @Stinkfoot's explanation sounds plausible! – Bruce Fields Feb 8 '18 at 19:50
  • @BruceFields - exactly: No violin/strings, no piano, no guitar - probably the three most popular instruments. – Stinkfoot Feb 8 '18 at 20:02
0

To answer your question, any instrument has its own set of difficulties:

Woodwinds: learning the right amount of pressure to use on the mouthpiece/reed combo to produce sound without squeaking; learning the right amount of air to use; learning the fingerings for around 20 notes, including multiple alternate fingerings.

Brass: learning how to buzz at different partials; learning the right combinations of the 3-5 valves at your disposal; learning breathing control.

Piano (included because any musician, even an aspiring one, should know at least a little piano): learning how to independently control three limbs (two hands for keys and a foot for pedals); learning how to play multiple notes at the same time; learning how to have competing ideas playing in either hand.

Percussion: learning how to play dozens of different instruments well; learning how to have four different limbs do four different things (drumset).

All of these are in addition to learning music theory, correct performance techniques, posture, breathing, how to play by yourself (controlling volume and intonation, keeping consistent tempo), how to play with others (ignoring everyone else doing something different while simultaneously listening to everyone else for group intonation, tempo changes, volume matching), etc.

See what I'm getting at? They're all challenging (and thus, they're all rewarding). Any variance in the amount of difficulty from one instrument to the next should be ignored.

THAT BEING SAID

I worked at a band instrument store for eight years or so, and I did notice that some people have an inherent aptitude for one type of instrument or another. I can play (or at least make a sound on) just about any woodwind instrument you set in front of me. Brass instruments...not so much. I was better with low brass, but it took years before I could make any sounds on the trumpet (not trying very hard, mind you, just picking one up every now and again in the store).

I did like this suggestion from @Dekkadeci:

See if you can go to a music shop where you can try all those instruments for a tiny bit and find out for yourself which one is the easiest to play.

Finally, if you want to make any actual headway with ANY of these instruments, take a private lesson. Even just one will save an enormous amount of time and effort on your part attempting to unlearn bad habits.

0

There are no "easy" instruments to play well, but certain instruments seem to be more common as introductory instruments:

  1. Voice is something people have with them all the time, and it's something pretty much everyone "plays", so it's just a matter of learning notation to sing something from sheet music.
  2. Recorder is typical in elementary school, because it's inexpensive, easy to carry around, and easy to make notes sound correctly.
  3. Piano and other keyboards are commonly taught because the black and white key layout corresponds visually with musical notation, and it's easy to make notes sound correctly.
  4. Guitar is commonly learned through self-study, because it's inexpensive, reasonably portable, and has its own notation that corresponds with how to play the instrument.

Of course, none of those are on your list. But if percussion on the list refers to pitched percussion (glockenspiel, xylophone, marimba, vibraphone, etc.), rather than drums, the arrangement of the sounding bars is typically similar to that of piano keys, so the visual correspondence between written music and the instrument will carry over to piano. Getting the notes to sound correctly isn't too difficult. On the down side, they're somewhat difficult to find for secondhand bargain prices, most are fairly bulky, and (unlike pianos) you don't find them available in practice rooms.

If the list refers to regular drum kits, they're very unlike any of the others, which is good news or bad news, depending on whether you're destined to be a drummer or not. They have their own notation, and they're bulky, but at least they're often found in practice rooms.

I add another "me too" to the advice to try various instruments before committing.

For reference, I played recorder in elementary school, trombone in junior (and I was jealous of the portability of smaller instruments, but I found it easy to sound correctly), and keyboards intermittently starting in high school. I also learned to play a few tunes on toy glockenspiels, as an adult.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.