I’ve had varying degrees of success learning to play banjo, guitar, mandolin, fiddle and upright bass: but it didn’t happen overnight. So here are a few ideas if you want to learn how to play music.
- Don’t buy just yet
- Get ready to learn
- Online, too…
- Hiring an instructor
- Search for cultural connections
I didn’t buy top of the line instruments to learn, in many cases I rented the instrument at first. Often music stores rent instruments for students. Some have programs that allow you to put a portion of the money spent in rental toward a new instrument when you decide to purchase. This is a great way to try an instrument before you buy it. You should also ask around. Someone you know may have an instrument and will loan it to you.
There are three avenues for learning: learning from a friend or family member; self-directed internet searches and teaching yourself; or hiring a teacher. Sometimes the least expensive way is to learn the basics from a friend or family member who play.
If you don’t know somebody or there are other issues prohibiting you from learning this way another inexpensive route is to search the internet for songs you like. Type the name of the song followed by “chords”. You can find chord diagrams showing you how to make the chords by typing the name of the instrument and “chords”. You can also find free music instruction on YouTube as well.
You can also learn through an instructor. This is usually the fastest and most organized way to learn, but also the most expensive. You can save money with an instructor by taking lessons bi-weekly or even monthly instead of weekly. Use the extra time between lessons to practice. Another suggestion is to find a group lesson. Sometimes music schools like The Old Town School in Chicago or your local YMCA hold these classes.
Music is a culture. Often people who like specific types of music gather to play that music. If you are interested in Irish music and search for “Irish Sessions” or “Irish Pubs” on line, you may find an Irish pub where musicians gather to play music and have a beer on a weekly basis. By attending the sessions you will become familiar with the songs and how they are played. You will also have a chance to meet musicians and possibly learn from them. Eventually you may be able to join them since sessions are usually open to everyone who can play. In some cities you can find old-time, bluegrass, folk and blues jams as well. Free resource for finding groups like this is www.meetup.com or asking at your local music store.
Learning to play an instrument can provide you with a lifetime of enjoyment, new friends, a sense of community and maybe even some spare cash down the road. Instruments can be rented for little money or sometimes borrowed for free. With lessons and information available for free on the internet now is a great time to learn. And, if you teach yourself or find someone in your community to help, the biggest cost to learning is time. And most of all, you are doing this for fun. So make sure you have fun doing it.