The 4 Step Guide to Learning Any Instrument

Picture this: you have finally decided that you are going to learn an instrument, perhaps you have even decided which instrument you wish to learn. But you are not exactly sure how to go about it. Perhaps you know that you need to find a teacher, but your not sure what you should be looking for. Luckily for you, Im here to help. This four step guide will set you on the path to make that desire become a reality.


Make no mistake, learning to play any instrument well is no easy task. Whether it be something as simple as bass guitar, with its 4 strings, or as complex as anĀ organ, with its different keyboards, foot pedals, and dozens of stops. Its a long road to become really good at it. But it is a road you have to want if you want to be successful in the field of music.

1. Decide which instrument you want to play

This is perhaps the most important part. There is no one in this world that does not have an instrument they would find difficult to learn to play, no matter how musical they are. You need to find the instrument that is right for you. This step is absolutely crucial. You may think that you arent musical. But I personally guarantee that there is an instrument out there that is right for you. But you are the one who has to find it. Do you have an excellent sense of rhythm? Perhaps percussion is your field Its up to you.

When people think of learning an instrument, people will generally think of some of the more mainstream instruments. Guitar, piano, drums, violin and the like. Although there is absolutely nothing wrong with learning these instruments (in fact Piano is an excellent beginner instrument), perhaps you want to learn the harp, saxophone, or french horn. The choices is yours, and trust me, there are a lot to pick from. And yes, voice does count as an instrument.

2. Buy the instrument

If you want to learn to play an instrument the very best investment you can make is to buy that instrument. Although you can rent an instrument, I will guess that you will not feel nearly as motivated to learn it. Its not yours. Its someone elses that you are using. Its easy to put it down and be done with it. But if you own it, its yours! You cant put it down, youve invested in it. It doesnt have to be a particularly expensive or fancy instrument, but I would not suggest a low quality one from stores like Target or K-Mart. Go to your local music store and see what they have to offer. You will not regret it I guarantee you.

Perhaps you cant afford a brand new instrument. No worries, you have good options. Sites like eBay and Craigslist will have good quality instruments for low prices. Im sure you can find the instrument that you are looking for for a low price somewhere.

3. Find the right teacher

If you are an amazing prodigy or highly motivated and can teach yourself to play an instrument well, then you may skip this step. But, if you are like the rest of us, Then a teacher can be incredibly beneficial. The internet these days has become a great source of information. But it will never be the same as a flesh and blood teacher. Perhaps you can learn from someone over the internet, but it will not be the same. If you play something obscure, perhaps this will be your only option. But, in most cases, you should be able to find a local teacher. Even if it is only 30 minutes a week, it will be worth it.

But you cant just pick any teacher. There are some excellent musicians out there who are not good teachers. And there are some excellent teachers who were not meant to be musicians. You have to find the intermediary. Someone who knows the instrument and music well, but also knows who to come to your level and show you how its done. The ideal teacher will be different for everyone but, in general, a teacher should:

  • Know the instrument well
  • Be friendly and want to help you
  • Enjoy a style of music that you enjoy
  • Not just tell you, but have you figure it out sometimes

4. Practice

Although it is a cliche, it bears repeating: Practice makes perfect. You absolutely cannot learn to play an instrument without putting time and energy in outside lessons. I do not care if you are just a average guy off the street or August Rush. You will need practice. An instrument is a wonderful thing, it craves your attention. You just have to decided to give it what it needs every once and a while.

If you are playing an stringed instrument, play until your fingers hurt (trust me, calluses will grow). If you play a wind or brass instrument, play until you cant blow any longer. If you play percussion, play until the people in your house are driven crazy. Perhaps not every day, but occasionally this is a good thing to do. Try to give it 5-6 hours a week, it is amazing what you can accomplish.

I guarantee that, when you start, you wont be very good. But perseverance is the key. You think The Edge started off playing the way he does. Well guess what? If you do, you are wrong.

I hope this helps you out, let me know how it worked for you. Leave a comment below sometime in the future.