The Ultimate Guide to the Top 5 Musical Instruments for Beginners

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Discover the perfect musical instrument for you with our ultimate guide to the top 5 instruments for beginners.

A Viola and electric piano photo,
Playing an instrument can be a great stress reliever and creative outlet; choose your first instrument wisely! PHOTO: David Lusvardi

Imagine being able to whip out a guitar at a party and become the center of attention. Learning to play a musical instrument not only offers this kind of fun social experience, but it also has numerous other perks.

For example, did you know that playing music can improve your cognitive function, including memory, language, and spatial-temporal skills? Who wouldn’t want to have a sharper mind and better memory?

Furthermore, playing music can also provide stress relief and promote relaxation, leading to better overall well-being. In today’s fast-paced world, we could all use a little more relaxation and stress relief. Learning to play a musical instrument can also be a social activity that helps you build interpersonal skills and create a sense of community.

I’ve been playing the piano since I was four, and I’ve recently decided to pick up the guitar and ukulele. Learning the music that I hear on the radio or in my games is one of the activities I enjoy the most. As a casual musician, I can tell you that playing an instrument has been one of the most rewarding experiences. Not only does it give me a creative outlet, but it’s also a great stress reliever as well.

With that being said, let’s dive into the Top 5 Musical Instruments I recommend for beginners or kids.

1. Piano

The piano is a versatile instrument that is able to play many different kinds of music, and with the help of a synthesizer, it can even replicate the sounds of other instruments.

Learning to play the piano provides a solid foundation for beginners that can be applied to other musical instruments. The piano is a versatile instrument that can play a wide range of musical styles, from classical to pop, which can help beginners develop a broad understanding of music. Learning the piano from a young age helped me solidify my foundations and understanding of musical theories.

learning to play the piano can help beginners develop excellent hand-eye coordination and finger dexterity, which can be beneficial for playing other instruments such as the guitar, violin, and drums. It has certainly helped me pick up other instruments a lot quicker than most people would have. Many musicians, including the most renowned composers like Mozart and Beethoven, started their musical journeys on the piano.

If you plan on picking up the piano, you have the option to choose either to buy an acoustic, or electric piano. When choosing between the two, it’s important to consider what type of music you want to play, as well as where you’ll be playing it.

Acoustic Pianos

Acoustic pianos are the more traditional type, using hammers to strike strings and produce sound. They come in various sizes, from upright to grand, and produce a warm, rich sound. They are generally more expensive than electric pianos and take up more space. However, the sounds they make are far richer, and better suited for more formal settings.

Electric Pianos

Electric pianos, on the other hand, use digital technology to produce sound and often come with a variety of features like built-in sounds, recording capabilities, and MIDI connectivity, allowing you to connect to your computer and record your playing! They are also generally more portable and versatile, and can sometimes emulate the sounds of other instruments.

Note: It’s important to look for a piano with weighted keys, which provide a more realistic playing experience and help build finger strength. Whether you choose an acoustic or electric piano, having weighted keys will help you develop good playing habits and achieve a more authentic sound.

2. Guitar

As someone who has recently taken up the guitar, I’ve come to appreciate its versatility as an instrument. Whether you’re into classical, jazz, or pop, the guitar makes it easy to switch between different styles of music. Not to mention, it’s portable and relatively easy to learn, which makes it a great choice for beginners. Just by learning a few chords, you’ll be able to jam with your friends!

Like the piano, the guitar can also help develop finger dexterity and hand-eye coordination, making it a valuable foundation for playing other instruments. The initial stages of learning the guitar might be slightly painful, especially on the fingers, but with time, picking it up could be one of the best decisions of your life!

There are three main types of guitars: acoustic, classical, and electric.

Acoustic Guitars

Acoustic guitars are the most common and are often used in folk, country, and pop music. They have a hollow body that produces sound when the strings are plucked or strummed. They are generally used if you prefer strumming to picking.

Classical Guitars

Classical guitars are used in classical music and have a wider neck and nylon strings, which produce a softer, more mellow sound compared to the steel strings of acoustic and electric guitars. If you love classical songs with fingerpicking, this is your choice.

Electric Guitars

Electric guitars, on the other hand, are used in a variety of genres, including rock, blues, and jazz. They have a solid body and rely on amplification to produce sound. They are the easiest to pick up out of all three as it’s a lot easier to fret the strings.

3. Violin

Ah, probably the most sophisticated of all instruments. The violin is a beautiful and versatile instrument, but it’s also one of the more challenging ones to learn. If you’re considering picking up the violin, it’s important to be prepared for a steep learning curve. Unlike the piano and guitar, the violin doesn’t have any keys or frets to guide your fingers, so it requires a lot of practice and patience to develop good intonation and technique.

When it comes to violins, there are two main types: acoustic and electric.

Acoustic Violins

Acoustic violins produce sound through the vibration of the strings and the resonance of the body, which can produce a warm and rich sound. Most people prefer acoustic violins for their sophistication, and they are timeless; The sounds will always be rich, full, and difficult to replicate.

Electric Violins

Electric violins, on the other hand, use digital technology to produce sound and often come with a variety of features like built-in effects and amplification capabilities. An electric violin is a suitable option for modern music genres and performance requirements due to its versatile features. They also tend to be much cheaper than their acoustic counterparts.

4. Ukulele

I recently picked up the ukulele, and it’s quickly become one of my favorite instruments. It’s easily one of the most portable of instruments, making it a great choice for musicians who like to travel or play on the go. Plus, it’s one of the easiest instruments to pick up, with only four strings and simple chord shapes that can be learned quickly.

Despite its small size, the ukulele can play a wide range of musical styles, from Hawaiian folk music to pop and rock. It’s also a great instrument for singing along to, as its bright and cheerful sound complements many different vocal styles.

When it comes to choosing a ukulele, there are a few types to consider: Soprano, concert, tenor and baritone.

Soprano Ukulele

This is the smallest and most traditional type of ukulele, with a bright and cheerful sound. It’s also the most common type, and is great for playing traditional Hawaiian music as well as pop and rock. Although its easier to pick up, it can be quite limited in its range.

Concert Ukulele

This type of ukulele is slightly larger than the soprano, with a fuller sound and slightly more frets. It’s a good choice for musicians who want a slightly bigger sound than the soprano, but still want the portability of a smaller instrument. It’s great for playing jazz and blues, as well as folk and rock.

Tenor Ukulele

This type of ukulele is larger than the concert, with an even fuller sound and more frets. It’s a great choice for musicians who want a more versatile instrument that can be used for a wider range of musical styles, including classical, jazz, and folk. It’s also great for players who have larger hands.

One of the most famous ukulele covers, “Over the Rainbow – Israel “Iz” Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwoʻole”, was performed on a Martin T1 tenor ukulele.

Baritone Ukulele

This is the largest type of ukulele, with a deep, rich sound that’s more similar to a classical guitar than a traditional ukulele. It’s a great choice for musicians who want an instrument that can be used for more serious, formal performances, and is often used in classical and jazz music.

5. Drums

Drums are the second most important instrument in any band after the guitar. They provide the backbone and rhythm of the music and create the beat that the rest of the band follows. Learning to play the drums can be a fun and exciting experience, but it requires a lot of practice and dedication.

Drum sets come in many different varieties, but the most common is the five-piece kit, which consists of a bass drum, snare drum, two rack toms, and a floor tom. Other components can be added, such as cymbals and percussion instruments, to create a more complex sound.

There are two main types of drum sets: acoustic and electronic.

Acoustic Drums

Acoustic drum sets are the more traditional type, and they produce a warm and natural sound. They can be used in a wide variety of musical genres, including rock, jazz, and blues. However, they can be quite loud, which makes them less suitable for practising during the night. They can also be take up slightly more space than electronic ones.

Electronic Drums

Electronic drum sets are much quieter than acoustic drum sets and can be used with headphones, making them ideal for practicing in small and less private spaces. They also offer a wide range of sounds and features, including the ability to record and edit your playing. They are often used in electronic and pop music.

Practice Takes Time, Practice Makes Perfect

Learning to play a musical instrument can be super rewarding and enjoyable. While some instruments may be more challenging to learn than others, it’s important to remember that the journey is meant to be fun and enjoyable. It’s not a race, and everyone learns at their own pace. In fact, I’ve been trying to pick up the euphonium now and I’m absolutely horrible at it, but we shouldn’t let that affect us!

Whether it’s the piano, guitar, violin, ukulele, drums, or any other instrument, each one has its unique benefits and can provide a fulfilling musical experience. Ultimately, the key to success in learning an instrument is dedication and practice.

So, pick up that instrument you’ve always wanted to learn and start playing! Remember, it’s about having fun and expressing yourself through music.

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