Playing Music: How To Get Going

My family have never really been that musical. At least that’s what I used to think.

Music was never really a focus when I was growing up. My grandparents played the radio, but it was mostly just Radio 4, so the small snippets of music I heard throughout the day were courtesy of the Archers and Desert Island Discs.

Growing up in the eighties, a period of history that I’m now fully aware was synonymous with bad hair cuts and very cheesy pop music, I know that I wasn’t really missing out on anything of great cultural importance – that is, unless you value the music of Clarence Clemons, Midnight Oil or the L.A. Guns.

I don’t begrudge my grandparents having deprived me of popular music during my youth, however I’ve always kind of regretted never having the chance to learn a musical instrument. Just like learning foreign languages, or riding a bike; learning how to play a musical instrument is one of those things that just comes easier to younger kids, which is something that I’ve learnt watching my son take his first shaky steps into the word of music.

He started out, as most kids do, with the recorder when he was 5 years old. His enthusiasm for his new hobby could be heard each and everyday which was both a blessing and a curse. I loved hearing him improve every day, but it’s debatable whether the very first days of him playing could really constitute music…

Regardless of your age or perceived musical ability, it’s never too late to pick up an instrument. Here’s my quick guide on how to get started:

Choose your instrument

The instrument you choose will depend largely on the sound you want to make! If you’re a classical fan then why not pick one of the many instruments that make up an orchestra? If you’re a pop music fan then singing or playing a guitar might be the right choice for you. Either way, you’ll want to consider your budget, the space you have to store the instrument and the potential noise that it could create for neighbours, before you make any purchases.

Tip: If you want to keep costs low, go to a music shop and talk to the staff there for a recommendation.

Find a way to learn

Once you have your instrument, you’ll need to find a way to learn. If you have a natural affinity for music then you might find that you need very little instruction, however, if you’re like me, you’ll need someone to at least take you through the basics, before you can go your own way. Hiring a musical tutor for an hour a week can be expensive, but worth the money, as you can get moment to moment feedback from a person, as opposed to learning for free from a tutor on YouTube.

Tip: You can pick up teach-yourself books on eBay to get yourself started for very little money.

Practice, practice, practice

Practice really does make perfect. Learning an instrument is often described as an addictive process, as each day you can literally hear yourself improve. The important thing is to not get disheartened early on in the process – with time and patience you’ll be able to get better, just make sure that you practice as often as you can, so that you can make as much progress as possible.

Tip: Make sure you have a dedicated practice space that is free of distractions and a little noise-proof, so that you don’t aggravate your neighbours too much.

Perform

Although many people practice and play musical instruments in their spare time, one of the best parts of learning a musical instrument is sharing your talent with others, whether that’s playing at an open mic night or even joining a group of musicians in a band or orchestra. If you’re not quite up for performing in public then why not record a YouTube video of your own or entertain your friends at a dinner party?

Tip: Start out by just performing one piece and then build up your ‘repertoire’ once your comfortable.

Music

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