I’ll never forget what my guitar mentor told me 15 years ago: “Don’t try to be a good guitar player—focus on becoming a good musician.” With various years (and instruments) now under my belt, those words have become my philosophy. While it’s a good thing to set your mind on learning a particular instrument, it’s worthwhile to be flexible. The end goal is to make music an enriching experience rather than a chore. Remember, you don’t “have to” learn guitar or master your favorite songs. As a matter of fact, you don’t even have to start learning on your ideal instrument of choice! You may actually find it more enjoyable to start with a different instrument altogether.

The following are my tips for choosing an instrument that will bring you into the musical realm rather than frustrate you into quitting:

  1. Some of us like to learn an instrument so we can sing our favorite songs. Guitar and piano are ideal instruments for this. If you’re struggling, however, try the ukulele! Awesomely fun, portable, and doable! I’ve found that it’s great for kids too.
  2. For those who want to get “lost in the music” but find themselves lost altogether with their current instrument, I highly recommend the drums! A simple beat and a natural instinct for rhythm can go a long way—and it need not be an exact science.
  3. Are there “too many” strings? Are your fingers “too big”? You can’t go wrong with the bass guitar. Often perceived (jokingly) as an underrated instrument in pop music, it’s absence would be sorely missed! And don’t be fooled—bass playing can be quite complex. But you can enjoy playing bass just fine as you play easy to grasp notes while other deal with chords.
  4. Final thoughts: Nylon-string guitars are softer on your fingers than a steel-string acoustic; your electric guitar or bass may need to be adjusted for play-ability; airboards are good replacements for harmonica/accordians; cajon’s are great simple substitutes for full drum sets.

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