Really, what I mean is nobody should think they couldn’t learn an instrument. The world has never been smaller than it is today because of that endless resource of information and cavernous well of procrastination known as the Internet. It can be used as a powerful tool to get you over the hump of learning an instrument.
I don’t want this to just address all the creatively inclined people that are already into the idea of the creative output as a huge part of our lives in this overly accessible world: designing, or writing, or filming, or whatever they’ve got going on. It’s everybody else as well that I’d like to cordially and openly invite to the world of music making.
A common misconception when the question first arises, if you should learn an instrument, is that it’s not the perfect time to do so. It most certainly is. Anytime is the perfect time to set aside thirty minutes every day to get into something new and mind-blowingly rewarding. It doesn’t need to be any more than a hobby for you mentally, but the emotional pay out will grow exponentially.
So let’s lay this out, what are a number of steps you can take?
You should probably find an instrument.
This doesn’t need to be an arduous process, and your final decision is not final at all, and can be molded as you grow in your musical assuredness. Really, if you’re completely new to the concept of learning or playing an instrument, grab anything that strikes your immediate and whelming fancy.
There’s a good chance your town has a Guitar Center. That’s a good thing for you because Guitar Center is totally about newcomers to music, so everything there is hands on and ready to be tried out. It also isn’t even close to only being about guitars, which is another great thing. Depending on your town, they’re usually Wal-Mart warehouse sized buildings, so they can house a huge amount of gear. Other than a huge selection of guitars, they’ll carry basses, drums, and tons of keyboards. If it’s a good Guitar Center, they’ll also shelf a huge number of brass and woodwind instruments, which is awesome because maybe not everybody wants to be inDokken, you know?
Definitely turn to the Internet in your search as well, as it is an invaluable resource to budding musicians and there’s a huge number of online stores, including Guitar Center’s own, that will list tons of really fun instruments along with resources like books and DVDs for that kind of learner, one who maybe isn’t totally capable of doing it all by ear just yet. Check out Musician’s Friend, Sweetwater,Chuck Levin’s, Long & McQuade, WWBW, and definitely check out your local Craigslist. Ebay is also full of unique instruments that you wouldn’t be able to find from the more established brands.
Figure it out!
Once again, the Internet can be your best friend in this situation, but I think a much more valuable and worthwhile resource of musical knowledge would be another musician. There is a huge chance someone you know plays an instrument, and even if all your friends are in the same position as you, learn something together. Other guitarists or trumpeters or pianists can all help each other. If you still don’t know anybody, get to the high school in town and ask the band teacher, if he’s a loser and is a little too keen on the idea of “private instruction” turn back to our old friend the web.
There’s an incredible new website for budding guitarists called Instinct. It’s awesome. Check it out, and see if it lines up with how you learn. Also YouTube is overflowing with how-to videos, even something as simple as this overly-nervous-but-still-pretty-helpful video on proper saxophone embouchure can set you down the right path. This slow-talker trudges through holding the violin bow properly, and this mustached guy teaches how to play Joni Mitchell’s a Case of You on Appalachian dulcimer.
Do your thing.
It’s not about being an incredible player, it doesn’t matter if you never play for anyone. This is really about leading a more fulfilling life. The ability to express yourself either through learning parts by ear or on paper, or through coming up with your own musical ideas, will be all the reward in the world, whether you sell out the Royal Albert Hall or not. But please, please find people to play with.Sharing music was its original intention, and it always will be.
The hump, however, is your first biggest challenge – getting past your own hang-ups and being a beginner at something again. Remember learning to walk? Me neither.
-Mike Kerr, Staff Writer