Top 10 Easiest and Hardest Instruments to Play

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Last updatedLast updated: May 15, 2021
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Learning how to play an instrument can be a fun or dreadful experience depending on what you pick. Our guide with the easiest and hardest instruments to play is aimed to make your decision process simpler. However, if your favorite choice falls in the hard category, don’t fret. It may turn out more manageable for you than for others.

Instruments such as the violin are dubbed hard to learn by many people because of their peculiarities. Additionally, the ukulele, for many people, is a piece of cake. The good news is, if you’re a lover of musical instruments, you can master as many as you want to. Still, it’s best to know which one requires more time for that.

What makes an instrument hard to learn

Several factors can make an instrument harder to learn than others. Often, the instruments we tag as difficult only require more practice time. However, some of them are hard to master due to their nature. An example of such an instrument is the accordion.

Top 10 Easiest and Hardest Instruments to Play

Additionally, guitars are seen as tricky because they require practice. The instrument’s physicality is also a factor that makes it hard to learn. Below are some factors that contribute to the learning difficulty of an instrument.

Practice time

There is no doubt that the amount of time required to learn an instrument determines whether it’s hard or not.

Owing to the technicality of the instrument, you need more time before you can master how to play it. For example, for you to master playing the French horn, you need to be able to use your lips a particular way. Learning how to use your lips the required way to play the French horn won’t happen overnight. You need to take your time to learn it.

Additionally, for instruments like the recorder, you may not need several months or years before you are a master at it. One reason the recorder is regarded as one of the easiest instruments to learn is because of its simplicity. Unlike many other instruments, the recorder requires less practice time.

So when you’re aiming to learn a new instrument, factor in the practice time. If you’re learning an accordion, bear in mind that it’ll require that you dedicate more of your time to practice.

Lack of physical qualities

Let’s face it – to learn some musical instruments, we need to factor in the physical elements required for that instrument. However, it shouldn’t hold you back from learning to play any instrument. Instead, it should serve as a determining factor.

Truth be told, you may not possess the physical qualities it requires to learn the instrument. Therefore, it becomes hard for you to learn that instrument. You may realize that owing to a shoulder injury, playing the violin may be more difficult for you. This is because the violin requires that you use your shoulder.

Additionally, a person with a knee injury may find it rather hard to play the drum set. To effectively learn how to play the drum set, you need to use your legs. An injury to the legs may make the learning experience terrible for you. Don’t feel bad if this is your situation.

Instead of getting discouraged that the lack of physical qualities is affecting your learning progress, switch to another instrument. Talk to your instructor about your problem and find out the other instruments you can learn to play. Focus more of your time on the instrument you possess the physical qualities for and make the most of it.

Musical notes

Top 10 Easiest and Hardest Instruments to Play

This is one aspect of music many musicians detest. Little wonder many musicians aren’t proficient in reading musical notes. When it comes to music theory, it is recommended that you are able to learn how to read musical notes. However, this doesn’t determine if you’ll be excellent at playing the instrument or not.

Although for those who play the harmonica, guitar, or piano, it’s not necessary for them to know how to read musical notes. However, if you will be learning an instrument that features in an orchestra, it becomes vital that you know how to read musical notes. Your ability to read musical notes is often a requirement before you can join orchestras.

Misconceptions

Often, many people give up on doing things because of the things they have heard about that particular thing. The same applies when it comes to learning how to play a musical instrument. You may not have knowledge about the instrument but what you hear from people is enough to discourage you. When you hear untrue misconceptions about an instrument, it then registers in your mind, thus affecting your learning.

Furthermore, many people believe that the guitar is difficult to learn due to the shortness of their fingers. Others may see the violin as difficult because their arms are long. These misconceptions are to be thoroughly dealt with before proceeding to learn an instrument.

List of the hardest instruments to play

Irrespective of misconceptions, lack of physical qualities, and reading of musical notes, there are some instruments that are hard to play. This is as a result of the technicality that accompanies playing them. For instance, there is no denying the fact that the violin is a difficult musical instrument to play. Also in this list are the bagpipes.

If you’re wondering about other instruments that make a list, keep reading. Below are some of the hardest instruments to play.

French horn

Top 10 Easiest and Hardest Instruments to Play

Although the popularity of the French horn is not wide, it tops the list of the most difficult instruments to play. The French horn is an essential member of the orchestra musical instrument family. As such, it provides many solos and low accompaniment. It’s no doubt mastering this musical instrument takes time. If you lack the patience to learn how to play the French horn, we advise you to play another instrument.

Furthermore, the French horn, unlike other musical instruments, doesn’t have any levers to press to play notes. The pitches and sounds that you play on the French horn require careful lip movements, and these lip movements may take years to master. Even after gaining mastery at knowing how to maneuver your lips to play the French horn, you will still have to take extra years to learn how to play the French horn perfectly for an orchestra.

Bearing these in mind, it suffices to say that the French horn isn’t all that easy to learn. It is a musical instrument that requires practice and patience. The reward for putting in your time to learn the French horn is becoming a pro at playing it.

Violin

Another instrument that follows immediately after the French horn is the violin. It is not hard to see why the violin is considered the most difficult instrument to play. Just like the French horn, the violin doesn’t sport keys or frets that helps you to play the instrument. This is the reason it takes several years to learn how to play the violin in tune.

Another thing that makes learning the violin difficult is the fact that the strings are close to one another. Beginners learning to play the violin find this very frustrating and have to play just one string per time. Also, when you factor in the violin bow movement, it becomes even more challenging. The combination of the left-hand fingering and the right-hand bow movement can cause eye and hand coordination issues.

Watching professional violinists play may give you the impression that it is easy and seamless to play. If you’ve never tried playing the violin before, you will not be able to tell how many years professionals put into learning to play flawlessly. Also, just like the violin, its cousins, the cello, double bass, and viola are equally as difficult to learn. They require years to master and also consistent practice to learn right and left-hand coordination.

Harp

The harp sports 47 strings, and they all need to be plucked correctly to give out their magical sounds. Now, imagine plucking 47 strings. To become a professional harpist, you need to be patient and flexible to learn how to play all the notes on the harp. However magical the harp sounds, it is more difficult than how professional harpists make it seem.

Additionally, the difficulty in learning to play the harp is in plucking all 47 strings. Melody memorizing and the ability to play faster are requirements of playing the harp in an orchestra. Learning to play the harp so effortlessly requires years of practice. Once you learn to play it right, you can be assured to play magical tunes as you wish.

Bassoon

Many people may be encountering this musical instrument for the very first time, and it is completely understandable. The bassoon isn’t quite as popular as the other instruments we mentioned earlier. One very tricky musical instrument to play is the bassoon. It’s no wonder there are very few people who play the bassoon. In fact, most people who started learning to play the bassoon gave up along the line and picked up the oboe.

To play the bassoon, you have to be relatively tall because of the bassoon’s height. Your height helps you to navigate the 28 or more keys of the bassoon. Also, the bassoon’s double reed needs proficient use of the lips and tongue, and it requires years to master their use. If you’re new to playing any musical instrument, we advise you to start with something easier.

Drum set

Depending on the genre of music you’re going into, learning to play drums may be difficult or easy. If what you’re aiming for is to play a simple beat for a band in your garage, then it shouldn’t be difficult to learn. However, if you’re looking to be a solo drummer someday, you’ll need to spend more time practicing.

When it comes to learning how to play drums, punk and rock are best to begin with. Their beats are easier, making them easy to learn, unlike jazz. If you’re a beginner, we recommend starting your drumming journey with the Pearl Roadshow RS525WFC.

People who do well in learning to play drums are those that are ambidextrous and highly coordinated. It can be quite challenging to hit notes at the appropriate time on the right spot on the drum using your hands while also keeping up with the beats using your legs.

Becoming an elite drummer may take years and consistent practice. However, keep at it, and you’ll be on your way to being an exceptional drummer.

List of the easiest instruments to play

Triangle

The triangle has to be the easiest musical instrument to play ever. It doesn’t require any special skills. All you need to do to play the triangle effectively is follow the rhythm. It’s no wonder that in an orchestra, percussion players are made to wield several instruments.

Ukulele

The ukulele, which resembles a guitar, is very easy to learn. It has a tropical sound to it and, for this reason, has become popular amongst beginners. Yearly, over one million ukuleles are sold.

Additionally, what makes them a piece of cake is the fact that they have frets. They’re lightweight and portable. If you are looking for a ukulele for beginners, our top recommendation is the Kala KA-EBY-T.

Piano

This list will utterly be incomplete without the piano. It’s hard to find a beginner who doesn’t start out with learning how to play the piano. The reason the piano is easy to learn is that its keys are easy to distinguish. Also, you can easily spot the flat notes, the natural notes, and the sharp notes.

Harmonica

The harmonica definitely has to be the most portable musical instrument. It’s almost impossible for a harmonica to sound bad. It often brings back old memories of the wild wild west. Although the harmonica still requires practice, it’s not difficult to learn.

Furthermore, harmonicas come in C keys. This makes it sound good whether or not it’s your first time playing it or not. Also, the harmonica is one of the best selling musical instruments.

Xylophone

The xylophone should bring back memories of your childhood. In grade school, the xylophone was one of the common instruments played by pupils. Playing the xylophone is easy. Hitting the right bars produces the right notes.

Thankfully, the note names are inscribed on the bars making it easier for you. Also, xylophones are portable and made from steel or wood tubing. You can also get children-size xylophones.

Final thoughts

Learning to play instruments can be a long and tiresome experience or a fun one. This depends solely on you and the instrument you’re learning. The easiest and hardest instruments to learn can go a long way in determining how your experience will be.

You need to consider the practice time when choosing an instrument to learn. For instance, learning the violin will require that you devote time to it. In the same vein, the harp is another instrument that requires your time in order to excel at it.

Which of those picks did you find to be hard or easy to master? Please, share your thoughts in the comment section below!

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