Mastering a musical instrument and wowing your friends (or even sellout crowds!) is a dream just about everyone has at once in their life. Unfortunately, many people never pursue learning an instrument seriously in their youth, either due to lack of access to a music teacher or feeling that there are better things to do with your young years.
If this describes you and you kick yourself over not putting in the effort when you were young, there’s no need to worry! Learning an instrument as an adult can be extremely fun and rewarding, and even easier than you think.
What’s even better is there’s many well studied health benefits to learning a musical instrument! Don’t believe me? Keep reading!
Benefits of Learning a Musical Instrument as an Adult
Outside of the obvious cool-factor of being able to play music, let’s look at some scientific data on the matter.
Various studies have found that music training has the following benefits to your brain –
- Easier to learn a new language.
- Increased working-memory capacity.
- Musical ability enhances math skills.
- Greater ability to process auditory data
There are few other hobbies you can get into that will keep your brain as engaged and playing music will. Learning a musical instrument will also give you the ability to challenge yourself as much or as little as you want.
Whether you want to master a wonderful solo, or just learn enough chords to play some of your favorite songs, there’s no wrong way to learn to play music as an adult!
Learning to Play a Musical Instrument for Adults
As an adult, you’re much more self-reliant and dependable than a child being forced to go to piano lessons. This opens up different paths for you to learn your musical instrument, each with their own benefits and drawbacks. There’s 3 main choices you can make, here they are –
This is your traditional method of learning to play a musical instrument. You travel to visit an instructor and have a one-on-one music lesson.
- Personalized instruction
- Learn at your own pace
- Ask questions at any time
- You may be able to use one of your instructors instruments before having to buy your own
- Most expensive option, a 30-minute lesson can be anywhere from $15-60 depending on your location and skill level
- You have to travel to learn
- More difficult to schedule if you’re busy
Online Video Instruction
Buying access to an online video course is an increasing popular method to go about learning to play the instrument you desire. These can either be one-time purchases, or monthly fees for programs that are constantly updated with new material.
For the cost of one in-person lesson, you could have access to thousands of videos that teach you step-by-step how to play your instrument. Most of these programs come with a money back guarantee, so there’s little risk.
- Much cheaper than in-person instruction
- Course structure offers guidance to your progression
- Covers everything you need to know as a beginner, and offers a forum to ask the community questions
- Learn to play from the comfort of your home
- Practice whenever you have time, no need to rework your schedule.
- Lack of in-person instruction can make some things harder to understand
Free Online Resources
Finally, if you want to try to learn to play your instrument on your own there are many online resources to help you out. You can find thousands of tutorials on YouTube and sites with chords for popular songs.
- Completely free!
- Tons of new videos and resources being added all the time
- Learn from home and on your own schedule
- You have to go out and find material that teaches what you need to learn
- No guidance on what to learn next
- Easy to get discouraged by an overload of information
The Easiest Musical Instruments for Beginner Adults to Play
Have a look at the instruments that will be easiest for an adult to learn to play right away.
The ukulele is a wonderful string instrument that’s extremely easy to learn, but can take a life time to master if you wish to pursue it.
Instead of a guitar which has 6 metal strings, the ukulele only has 4 strings made out of a softer nylon-like material. Even with only 4 strings, you can still play all the same songs you could play on guitar. You play using only your hand (no guitar pick), and there’s a variety of different strumming patterns you can learn to give songs different vibes that fit the genre.
The simplicity of the ukulele makes it very fast and easy to learn how to play chords that make up your favorite songs. In just a week or two, you can be playing songs you know! This makes it hard to get discouraged.
We made a post to find the best ukulele for beginners if you decide this is the instrument for you. If you’re interested in a harder-hitting 4-string instrument, check out our guide to bass guitars for beginners.
Learning how to play the ukulele will teach you many fundamental skills that transfer to learning the guitar, should you want to later on.
Another added benefit of the ukulele to consider is how easily portable the instrument is. The small size makes it easy to take with you anywhere – bus, plane, or automobile! There’s even a special category of travel ukuleles which are designed to be extra durable and compact.
If you’re the type that loves you keep your hands occupied and find yourself fidgeting with something during all times, the bongos might be your calling.
This percussion instrument originated in Cuba, and by using nothing more than a set of bongos and your bare hands, you can create some entertaining beats.
One reason why bongos are great for adults is they give you instant feedback directly to your body, so learning why your instrument made a certain sound becomes less of a mystery. You become more in tune with your instrument and understand all the subtle variations much faster.
The bongos are also a great way to teach yourself rhythm, if you’re lacking in that department. Bongos are also excellent for beginners because they’re not too loud that every else in your home or apartment building dreads you practicing! Check out our best bongos for beginners list if you want to pick up a set to learn on.
Our recommended learning method: Learn on your own using free online sources. Much of learning the bongos is about experimenting and finding your own rhythm. Rhythm will come with time and practice, though some may find it easier than others. Being able to find and master rhythm is a skill that will certainly transition to other instruments.
You can search for some YouTube videos and start there. You may be able to find some bongo players in a park or college campus that would be willing to show you the ropes as well.
The xylophone is something you may have played a bit back in your music classes. It consists of a wood frame holding either metal or wooden bars that when struck, produce a specific note.
You can really spend as much or as little as you want on an xylophone depending on your needs and skill level. As a beginner, you wont need as many notes as a professional orchestra, so you can find one that fits your needs for $50 or less, and step up to a nicer model later if you choose to. You can even build your own xylophone if you want to save a ton of money.
The xylophone makes very beautiful music and sounds completely different from any other percussion instrument. You’ll need to learn how to read sheet music as a starter, but if you keep with it you’ll be able to recognize notes by ear.
Our recommended learning method: In-person teacher, if you can afford it. Once you know how to read sheet music, there will be a world of music for you to practice with. Here’s a xylophone for beginners course that might help you get started as well.
Harmonica (sometimes called the “Blues Harp”) is a popular musical instrument among blues, folk, country, and rock bands. It’s a very simple instrument to start playing and very rewarding when you start reliving your Blues Brothers dreams.
The harmonica is so portable you can take it with your anywhere to practice whenever you have time. It’s also a very affordable musical instrument to first pick up. We made a full guide to finding the best harmonica for beginners to help you pick out the perfect harp!
Our recommended learning method: Harp n’ Guitar. This online course is unique in that it will teach you both harmonica and guitar (should you choose to learn that as well), and even how to play the two together. If you’d rather learn it yourself, there’s plenty of videos on YouTube to help get you started.
Just Start Learning!
That sums up the easiest musical instruments for beginner adults to learn to play.
There’s no right choice here, simply pick out whatever instrument calls out to you the most and get started! There’s no better time to start learning than now.