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The Internet Savvy Guide to Learning an Instrument


Learning to play an instrument on your own can range from easy to moderately easy to very difficult depending on several factors such as what instrument you decide to play, how much time you have to learn it and how many resources you have. Assuming that the Internet is the only good resource you have for learning, here are some excellent tips on learning to play an instrument quickly.

Decide the Instrument You Wish to Play

There are a wide variety of instruments you can choose from depending on how portable you want an instrument to be and how easily you want to learn it. For example, you can’t expect to lug around a piano the way you do a guitar or flute. In the same way, a more easy-to-play instrument such as the recorder or drums can be learnt faster than more complex instruments such as the piano and keyboard. So if you have a really short time to pick up an instrument, it is wise to select accordingly. Of course, you need to buy the instrument after you decide in order to learn it. Remember to buy an instrument that is not too cheap or too expensive, as cheap instruments don’t produce good sounds and expensive instruments may be too complex to use for a beginner. If you can’t afford to buy an instrument just yet, borrow from a friend or rent one.

Learn To Read Sheet Music

While it is completely possible to learn an instrument without being able to read sheet music, it’s highly recommended that you learn. This is so that you will have more options of pieces to play, and if you can read sheet music you will have a deeper understanding of music itself. It can also save you time because some resources online only display pieces in musical notes, so if you don’t know how to read it you will waste more time looking for other resources. It doesn’t have to take long to learn sheet music; it’s actually pretty straightforward. Take a look at the resource section as the bottom of this article for some sites you can visit to learn.

Look For Audio-Visual Resources When Learning

The best way to learn an instrument is to watch and learn the proper way to hold, use and play the instrument. Also, the term “playing by ear” didn’t come out of nowhere, so you will need to hear how a note or chord is supposed to sound to connect the note and sound together in your mind. So look for videos online that can teach beginners how to play a particular instrument, as it will feel as though you are in some kind of online class. There are free resources available all over the Internet, just Google how to play a (your instrument here) or search on YouTube.

If you have some cash to spare, you could invest in a downloadable video course for a particular instrument. This speeds up the process as these video courses already come in proper learning sequence and teach you everything you need to know step-by-step, thus saving you the time needed to keep searching over and over again for different videos on different parts of your instrument-learning process. If you don’t have enough to invest in a DVD set, you could look at smartphone apps that come either for free or for a minimal price. Check out some of the apps in the resource section at the end of this article.

Practice Makes Perfect

Once you know some basic notes and chords, you should spend a lot of time practicing your instrument. Allocate at least a few hours a day to practice, with minimal breaks in between. The more you practice, the shorter the time you will take to learn the instrument. If you have a hard time dedicating your time to practicing, get a friend or family member to practice with you on a regular basis. Having another person to push you and give you company is a great way to get yourself to do something.

Depending on the instrument you chose, you can find practice exercises to try at home on some websites, especially if your instrument is a fairly popular one. Using these practice exercises is more beneficial than randomly playing notes, as you will improve on rhythm and arrangement of notes.

Play Popular Music Pieces That You Like

Playing basic notes and chords over and over can be very boring, so try to practice the instrument you are learning by playing some simple music pieces and songs, such as nursery rhymes or songs with repetitive notes/chords. This will be difficult the first few times, but once you successfully play a piece, you’ll be motivated to keep practicing. Change up the type of pieces you play between slow and fast beat ones. If you hear any particular song that you like (on the radio for example), look up the chords and notes for that song and see if you can play it. Exploring pieces you like keeps your interest and helps you learn chords that you otherwise may not have learnt, in a short span of time.

A Final Note

Learning an instrument needs patience, and there will be times where you will feel frustrated or want to give up. If you are planning to shorten your learning time and practice a lot, the chances of you feeling this way is even higher. You will have to persist and motivate yourself that it will be worth it in the end. Also, don’t let pain stop you from practicing. Some instruments will be a pain to play in the beginning, such as guitar. Holding the strings for long periods of time can hurt and cut through your fingers, but you will have to hang in there and continue. Over time, your fingers will develop calluses that will prevent pain during future playing. The same applies for other instruments.

And that’s how you learn to play an instrument using the Internet as your resource, in a short period of time. Good luck, and remember, persist and you will get there!

Resource section

a) For learning sheet music

b) Smartphone apps