Many people would like to learn how to play a musical instrument, but they are put off by one big problem: what to play? Here are a few questions to help you decide.

What kind of music do you like?

Many instruments are versatile, but some are more suited to certain types of music. Although there is some classical repertoire for the saxophone, for example, people associate it more with jazz, and it is not a permanent feature of many orchestras. Some instruments may lend themselves better than others to the music you like, so consider this before you start.

Do you want to play with other people?

Think about your long-term future as a musician. If you want to play with other people, what sort of instrument would be most practical? The initial attraction of playing a dazzling solo instrument like trumpet, violin, flute or lead guitar might fade when you realize how many other people are competing with you to get the main part with the same instrument! If you want to play rock music, there will always be a demand for bass players or drummers, and if you fancy being part of an orchestra, the bassoon is a great bet to make sure you are always needed.

Where are you going to practice?

Many people live in flats and practicing the drums, for example, will drive your neighbors crazy. Think about where and when you are going to practice, as well as the patience of the people you live with or near. Electric versions of instruments like the piano, drums, guitar and even violin give you the option of playing into the night using headphones, while your housemates sleep in peace. Alternatively, you may need to consider going to a school or a community center to practice.

How much money can you spend?

This is quite a big factor. A lot of instruments can be purchased in different price ranges, for example, guitars. But this doesn’t alter the fact that many, such as the piano, are always pretty expensive. If you can’t afford your chosen instrument, will you be able to borrow someone else’s or hire one?

Are there any physical limitations?

If you’re small and don’t like lifting heavy objects, you won’t want to carry around a double bass. Apart from that, use your common sense, and don’t let your perceived physical shortcomings put you off. Who says small skinny people can’t play the tuba? It’s true that some wind instruments require a lot of lung power but with the right coaching, everyone can develop the right technique.

Still not sure?

Talk to people you know who already play instruments. They might even let you try theirs. It’s also a good idea to find an experienced music teacher, preferably one who plays a few different instruments, who can give you some advice and push you in the right direction.

If you find an instrument you love and that suits your needs, you’ll find the time spent choosing was well worth it. Good luck with making your choice!

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