What is the hardest instrument to learn as an adult or child?
This is what we'll share with you today!
To become a master at any instrument is going to take a lot of dedication and persistence, regardless of which one you choose to learn.
We've already looked at the easiest instruments to learn, now let's check out those ones you'll need to put the work in to master.
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Violin Is One Of The Most Difficult String Instruments To Learn
Though it only has four strings, the violin is considered one of the most difficult stringed instruments to master.
There are several reasons for this. For starters, unlike the guitar, there are no frets on the violin. Finger position is learned through trial and error as well as the guidance of a skilled teacher.
So, playing in tune can be a real challenge.
Then, there’s posture. Learning to hold the violin the right way can take time, and further, it probably won’t feel entirely comfortable at first.
Additionally, you need to get your bowing technique precise. Bowing isn’t easy, and it takes a lot of time to get used to.
Of course, I probably shouldn’t even need to mention that you’re going to need to be able to sight-read while playing with flawless precision.
Sure, there are plenty of children in school band or orchestras playing violin. But in many cases their playing is elementary and is a far cry from the pros.
In an orchestra, you can still hide between the wall of sound created by other instruments, at least to a point. A choir is the same way.
If you pick out the pieces of a choir, you’ll probably hear many singers who don’t sound that great on their own. But in a bigger group, they sound amazing.
And, I should also note that you're not going to be able to “hide” for long, in any context.
It’s the rare individual who picks up the violin quickly. Many players struggle in their early years and dedicate themselves to hours upon hours of daily practice to perfect their technique.
But as with anything, consistency is what matters most, and if you’re willing to apply yourself to daily, consistent practice, in time you too can become a skilled violinist.
And, if you don’t care that much about how you sound, violin certainly can be enjoyed at the amateur level too. Just beware of bugging those around you.
Just looking at the harp feels a little overwhelming to me.
Harps generally have 40 to 47 strings, which is enough to make the best stringed instrument players feel a little tense.
And, you must learn how to position your hands and fingers properly. On a six-string instrument, that’s not such a big deal. But on a 40-string instrument? Just think about that for a second.
Add to that the fact that harps have pedals that are used to sharpen and flatten notes, and it’s a complete cluster fuss.
So, while practice and muscle memory are key to learning any instrument, that’s about the only thing that’s going to save you on the harp.
The harp is a super cool instrument and it’s great in a variety of settings – orchestra, classy hotels and restaurants, weddings and outdoor gigs, and more.
But I can’t imagine anyone just picking up the harp for the heck of it. You better be serious about the instrument. Harp is probably not for the hobbyist.
French Horn Is A Hard Instrument To Learn For Children
The French horn is considered one of the hardest brass instruments to play.
Since you must place your lips with precision, it’s incredibly easy to hit wrong notes.
Speaking of which, you must also master the breathing. Because the tube is so long, you must use a lung full of air to produce a satisfactory sound with this instrument.
It can also be a clunky and cumbersome instrument, making it hard to hold with good posture.
And, of course, you must use your fingers to play the keys in the middle of the horn.
Since you’d likely be playing the horn in an orchestral setting, you’ll need to be able to sight-read while you’re breathing into this behemoth.
But the French horn is an instrument with a beautiful tone, and that makes it all worthwhile.
Again, probably not for the hobbyist. But learning the French horn can be a rewarding experience.
Piano Can Be Hard To Learn
Perhaps the hardest thing about piano is the need for limb and finger independence.
The drums also require limb independence, but with piano, different fingers are going to be doing different things at the same time, while your feet are pressing pedals at exact moments.
Oh, and let’s not forget that you also need to sight-read simultaneously. And, you need to be able to read the treble and bass lines at the same time too.
Now, while I’m sure purists would disagree with me, I think it’s okay to memorize pieces too. It just means you’ve developed muscle memory to the point where you don’t even have to think about the music anymore.
But I’m sure you get the idea. Piano requires a high degree of concentration until you’ve developed that muscle memory.
You need to be mindful of what your hands and feet need to be doing at any given moment.
As with any other instrument, we also need to consider what level you aspire to.
Becoming a concert pianist could be quite the undertaking. Meanwhile, learning a few songs to play for your friends will likely be a lot less effort intensive.
And, derivative instruments like keyboard also often encourage you to play in a different, more simplistic way.
You might be playing one note at a time, or you may be using different settings to get a big sound without having to use all your fingers.
Pedals can be used with keyboards, but they are optional. And, you don’t necessarily need to sight-read either.
So, it all depends on what you aspire to. Learning music on the piano could range from incredibly difficult all the way to deceptively simple.
The accordion is sometimes looked upon as a novel instrument.
And, that’s hardly surprising when you consider what genres it’s typically used for – polka, tango, country dance, zydeco and so on. This isn’t to say it can’t be used in other genres, mind you.
“Weird Al” Yankovic is probably the most popular living accordionist, which probably helps its image more than it hurts it.
Its “coolness” factor is probably nowhere nearing that of guitar, but I have respect for anyone that can play the according well.
I remember being on the same bill with a kid of about 16 who could play accordion like a boss and it was quite entertaining besides!
Anyway, like piano, to play the accordion, you need to develop your finger independence.
One hand plays the keys (treble), while the other plays the buttons (bass). So, it’s kind of like learning keyboard twice, because you must learn different shapes for both hands.
Then, there’s the bellows, which is the part you move in and out to create articulation.
So, much like the piano, you need to be able to do three things at the same time to be able to play the accordion well.
As with anything, if you work at it, you can get better at it. There’s nothing impossible about the accordion.
But it could be intimidating trying to learn it for the first time, especially if you have no prior musical experience.
The accordion tends to come across clumsy when amateurs play it, so I’m not sure if there’s a whole lot of room for “faking it” either. Either you know how to play, or you don’t.
Sure, there’s bound to be differences between the average pro and the most accomplished virtuosos, but chances are they’ve all learned to play their instrument quite well.
Organ Can Be A Hard For For Adults
If you know how to play the piano, then you have a basic understanding of how to play the organ.
The keys are played much the same way they are played on a piano, and the notes are laid out the same too.
But that’s where the similarities end, and things start to get a little more complicated.
Now, organs come in a variety of forms, so what I’m about to say may or may not apply to some instruments.
But let’s start with the keyboard. Many organs don’t just have one keyboard – they have two or three.
Then, there are many switches and drawbars, which affect the tone of the instrument.
You don’t necessarily need to be tweaking these constantly, but you should know how to get the tones you want out of the instrument.
And, the organ doesn’t have a sustain pedal. So, when you want to sustain a note or a chord, you must keep your fingers in position.
Then, your feet also get a bit of a workout too, because there are bass pedals (laid out much like a keyboard would be).
To tap into the full range of the instrument, you’ll want to train your feet to hit the right pedals at the right time too.
And, of course, if you’re trying to play a piece you haven’t memorized, you’re going to need to be able to do all this while sight-reading too.
I think you’re starting to get the picture. Organ is like piano taken to the next level.
As far as instruments go, I happen to think organ is sick. They sound amazing and they’re versatile, great for a lot of different genres.
Organ can be enjoyed at a recreational level or in a more professional capacity. So, again, if you want to be good at it, the commitment required will be greater.
Guitar, Easy Or Tough To Learn?
If you're only talking about playing the basics, Guitar probably isn’t the hardest instrument to play, but it isn't the easiest instrument either.
Now, if you want to become a “guitar god” however, the bar for that is incredibly high these days!
Because today’s players are standing on the shoulders of the giants – Chuck Berry, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Eddie Van Halen, and many, many others.
It’s like an arms race out there – many guitarists are working hard to outplay their peers. And, some, like Guthrie Govan or Joe Bonamassa, have come out of the blue to wow other pros.
If you want to be recognized as a genius, it’s going to take something. And, that something is probably practicing for six to 12 hours per day for years on end.
But if you just want to play your own rendition of “Smoke on the Water” or strum a few chords, it’s never too late to get started.
Out of the hundreds of students I’ve taught, I think there was only one that I couldn’t teach to play anything well.
She was a little old lady. And, I can’t confirm or deny that she may have had some mobility issues.
So, assuming you don’t have any issues moving your fingers, you can probably learn to play, even if it’s just a little bit.
And, the guitar is truly an amazing instrument. It always seems to respond to the individual and their unique touch. It’s so expressive.
Although often overlooked, there is one other aspect of the guitar that’s quite difficult to master – sight-reading.
Musical notation is practically tailored to instruments like piano and violin. But it can be a real pain trying to read for the guitar.
Guitar tablature is much more accessible and guitar-friendly. It notates guitar music in a way that’s commonsense and logical.
Doubtless, tabs have their weaknesses too. They usually don’t notate timing. But the upside is that guitarists get good at figuring out rhythmic patterns by ear. So, no major loss there.
Bottom line, learning a few chord progressions or riffs on the guitar is relatively easy. If you want to take it beyond that, you’ve got your work cut out for you.
Notable Mention: The Clarinet
Clarinets can also be quite difficult to learn, although it depends on the type you decide to try out.
A beginner clarinet for example will be harder to learn than a professional one.
Hardest Instruments To Learn For Adults And Children
Although a lot of people tend to avoid things when they seem hard, I would encourage a different approach with music.
Music shouldn’t be “work”. Music is fun. It’s a passion. It’s a way to tap into your creativity.
So, if there’s an instrument you want to play, don’t let anyone stop you. Just give it a try and see what happens.