Choosing the right musical instrument

Choosing a musical instrument is not a decision to be taken lightly.  Playing any musical instrument requires a great deal of commitment in order to become a skilled musician and so you need to spend some time considering the kind of sound you enjoy listening to.

The first thing you need to do is to listen to various kinds of instruments, firstly to identify the right instrument group, whether you prefer to listen to woodwind, strings, brass or even percussion.  This will help you to narrow down your possible choices.  Having identified the musical instrument group that you enjoy the most, then it's time to look at specific instruments within that group.

Again, listening is your first step towards finding the right musical instrument for you.  Try to obtain a number of CDs which highlight each instrument in your chosen group.  Which of these do you enjoy the most?  These are the ones that you want to look at more closely.

Now it's time to visit the music store.  Ask the sales assistant if it's possible to hold the instruments that you're interested in.  Which of them feels as if it belongs in your hands when you hold it correctly?  Is there anything about it that makes it uncomfortable to hold - size, weight (brass and woodwind can get heavy to hold), required movement (especially with string section instruments), etc?  How is the sound made?  Does it require any specific technique that you may not be able to manage - larger woodwind and brass instruments need a lot of effort to create a good tone and so if you have any breathing related health issues, you may be better with a smaller version of these instruments if you would like to play an instrument in either of these instrument groups.

Identify which instrument seems to be the one for you from those you have looked at.  Now ask the sales assistant for more specific information about it.  How easy is it to assemble, and what "extras" are needed to play it (reeds, grease, strings, resin etc)?  What about tuition?  Is there anywhere local where you can go to learn to play from a qualified tutor?  Alternatively, are there any orchestras in your area that take on beginners?  Also enquire about maintenance of the instrument - how regularly should it be cleaned and how should this be done.

Finally enquire about how much this kind of instrument would cost.  You don't have to buy it at the music store if you have a limited budget; you could purchase it through a small ad in the newspaper, online or even in a second hand store if you're lucky.  However, some music stores have budget plans that will allow you make regular payments rather than paying the entire sum up front.  It's also possible that your music store allows you to have a trial period with the musical instrument of your choice so that you can try it out and see if it's really the right one for you - and which you can return if you find that it's not.

You are going to be making quite an investment in the musical instrument you purchase; not only in terms of money, but also in respect of the time you will spend playing it.  Therefore it's worth spending the time necessary to identify the right instrument before you commit to one particular instrument so that you're sure that this is something you will enjoy learning to play.

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