Decisions, decisions

What instruments are recommended to solo learners?


Photo by Alexis Runnels

Sophomore Grey Johnson is contemplating his thoughts of two brass instruments. He has decided which instrument to start playing first.

Story by Grey Johnson, entertainment editor

It’s common amongst a group of students for someone to have a passion for music. Whether they actually play an instrument or listen to songs, music is heard by many people. So, if someone wanted to take their passion further and learn an instrument, what instrument should they pick?

“As far as learning an instrument, I feel like it really depends on what kind of music they’re interested in playing,” senior Colin Runnels said. “If they like rock music, take the time and sit down and learn guitar. If you looking for orchestral stuff, it depends on what you have time for because some instruments take a little more time than others to learn.”

There are many different genres of music and depending on what you like should dictate what instrument you learn. For jazz, go with an instrument you would commonly find in a jazz band, for example, a trumpet or a saxophone. If you enjoy classical, go for a piano.

“I’ve had a good time learning french horn,” Runnels said. “It was a fun instrument for the kind of music I like to play. Being able to pick that up and learn the style with that instrument has been extremely cool.”

But, what do you do if you don’t have a specific genre in mind and just want to play an instrument? If you weren’t going off what instrument fits your style of music, go off of an instrument that you find interesting or fun.

Then, you would want to try out instruments by renting it. When doing this, whether or not you’ll be learning with others will dictate what you should decide on. If you are going to be taught with private lessons, go for whatever feels comfortable.

However, if you’re going to be learning by yourself and don’t feel comfortable with learning a complex instrument, go for an easy one. Depending on who you ask, there will be multiple answers on what instrument is the easiest to learn by yourself. Yet, there a general census that suggests the saxophone since it has straightforward fingerings and the way your mouth has to be positioned (embouchure) is more forgiving than other instruments.

“I would suggest learning saxophone on your own,” freshman Connor Corbett said. “It’s so much easier because not as much technique is involved with it. Because for the clarinet, even though the fingerings are easy, your embouchure has to be perfect or you sound horrible.”

However, if you don’t want to go through the woodwind route, there are always brass instruments. Normally, the trumpet is considered to be the easiest brass instrument to learn. The trumpet only has three valves to press down and is relatively compact compared to other brass instruments.

Piano is also considered a good choice because the pitches are set and the only thing you have to do is learn where to place your hands.”

— Grey Johnson

If brass isn’t your passion, there’s either percussion or stringed instruments. Percussion instruments aren’t normally recommended for people who plan to play solo mostly because they aren’t as common or practical. However, if you were to go down that path, either a drum set or a piano is recommended. A drum set combines multiple different types of drums, so they are good for solos. Piano is also considered a good choice because the pitches are set and the only thing you have to do is learn where to place your hands.

“I would say piano just because that’s easier to learn by yourself,” senior Nick Sisk said. “The notes are set— you just have to learn how to use your hands.”

If none of those choices seem appealing, there is the last but certainly not least: category of stringed instruments. There are many stringed instruments to choose from, but one of the most popular and commonly recognized would be the guitar and ukulele. Stringed instruments are popular, can fit a lot of different music genres, and don’t require any lip movement like the other instruments listed above. So, stringed instruments are also a good place to start.

At the end of the day, it comes down to what you are looking for whether it be a percussion, brass instrument or an instrument with many keys or a few valves. Whatever you choose, there is no right or wrong answer, it’s all up to you and if you truly want to learn, you will enjoy playing an instrument.