Some people walk into music classes knowing exactly what they want to learn. At times this could be a song, while at other times it could be a playing style, or even music theory. But not everyone’s like that. What if you aren’t just unsure of what you’d like to learn—what if you don’t even know what instrument you'd like to learn something on? Well, that’s okay. After all, making that initial choice of instrument is pretty difficult. There are, however, some clear factors to consider when taking your pick—factors that might make your decision more straightforward.
What do you enjoy listening to? Each genre of music tends to cater best to a specific set of instruments. Rock, for example, usually relies heavily on the guitar and drums. And if you largely listen to rock, you’re probably going to want to play mostly rock music. This being the case, the drums might be a better choice than the violin. Of course, instruments are never completely tied to music genres—some rock, for instance, incorporates the violin—but there’s no doubt that there is a certain connection between genre and instrument. In that regard, try and pick a musical instrument that at least somewhat relates to the music you listen to.
Pictured above is one of Taaqademy’s jam/recording rooms. Jam rooms offer a collaborative space that is always open to making music. Nonetheless, it’s always better to be able to practise at home.
Where can you practise, and how much space do you have at your disposal? Some instrum
ents are large, and might simply not fit in your room/house. Pianos (particularly grand pianos) are notorious for this, and pianists living in small apartments often struggle to find room for them. Instruments like the flute or guitar, however, hardly ever present issues of space. But it isn’t just about size—there’s also the question of loudness. Practising on an acoustic drum kit at 2am might be fine if you have a soundproof room in an independent house, but doing the same in an apartment will lead to all kinds of trouble. So think about your surroundings a little when you choose what to start learning—unless you want an angry horde of neighbours or family members at your door.
Your Instrument’s Role
Do you want to play an instrument by yourself, or in a group? Do you plan on singing while playing? Do you want to play off sheet music? Every instrument lends itself to a certain musical role, and it’s important to understand these roles before picking what to learn. Guitars and pianos are great to sing with, and are a great choice for those who intend on singing while playing an instrument. A saxophonist, however, can never sing while he or she is playing, for obvious reasons. Likewise, certain instruments are better suited to ensembles than solo performances. Instruments that allow one to play both melodies and harmonies (such as the piano or guitar) offer considerable scope for wholesome solo pieces, as opposed to instruments that only allow one to play melodies, such as the flute or trumpet. It’s therefore important to think about how you plan on playing your instrument, and finding one what suits the role you have in mind.
Another thing to consider with regard to price is that some instruments have cheaper counterparts that beginners can learn the basics on. Think acoustic vs. electric guitar, or keyboard vs. piano.
Like with everything else, there’s the consideration of money. Some instruments are simply cheaper than others, and if you aren’t sure of sticking with music classes, you might be better off choosing a relatively cheap instrument. Nowadays cheap versions of most instruments are available to buy, but also keep in mind the cost of related essentials (such as amps, cables, etc.) when making your calculations.
Picking an instrument is the first step of a long yet rewarding journey. It’s a hard choice to make, but looking into the various factors that make an instrument suited to someone is undoubtedly helpful. More importantly though, remember that it’s okay to get make mistakes once in a while. Maybe you’ll pick up the bass and realise it isn’t your thing—that’s fine. What’s most crucial is actually taking that step and picking up an instrument, rather than endlessly faltering in doubt. We at TAAQademy have seen a number of students pick up an instrument, only to learn it wasn’t quite for them. What happens to these students next might surprise you. Sure, some quit music classes altogether—but very often, students find the instrument that suits them best, and excel at it. So when choosing your first instrument, don’t worry too much—start on what you think you like best and just see where that takes you.