If you want to be a musician and don’t know where to start, you might be asking yourself, what is the easiest instrument to learn?
To be a serious musician takes time and effort, no matter what you play. Although, as a beginner, some instruments are easier than others.
We have picked out the easiest instruments to learn for both kids and adults. So, check out our list, make your choice, and start your musical journey today!
These are the easiest instruments to learn and play:
The ukulele is the ultimate instrument for kids and beginners of all ages. It’s small, cheap, and it’s seen as a pretty cool instrument to play!
The first thing that makes it an easy instrument to play is that it’s so small and light. It’s comfortable to hold, easy to carry around, and it’s not too awkward for bigger hands to hold the right notes.
Ukuleles have four strings, so you have two less to think about than a standard guitar. The strings are nylon and far softer than typical guitar strings, which means no sore fingertips!
With fewer strings and such a short neck, the ukulele encourages simplified playing. With just a few simple chords, you can play an endless number of songs.
Thanks to the ukuleles’ unique sound, everything sounds new and fun. It has such a happy sound; it’s rich, warm, and makes everything seem sunnier. Because you can start playing songs quickly, it encourages creativity.
Another benefit of being so portable is that it makes the ukulele a very sociable instrument. Even as a child or beginner, it’s a good idea to play with other musicians as often as you can.
There are a few different types of ukulele, like soprano, concert, and tenor. Size varies slightly between the different types, but they are all small.
The ukulele is one of the easiest instruments for children or adults to learn.
Further reading: 3 reasons learning ukulele is hard/easy
Hundreds of years ago, the recorder was so popular that leading composers would write concertos for it. These days it’s not quite so cool, but it still pops in school music classes around the world often enough.
There are a few reasons that schools decide to teach kids to play the recorder at a young age. The first is that they are extremely cheap; the second is that they are incredible for learning the basics of music.
The recorder covers two octaves, and notes are played by covering the correct finger holes and blowing into the mouthpiece. Once you learn how to hold the recorder, it doesn’t take long to memorize where the notes are. Before you know it, you’ll be playing melodies and having fun.
The recorder might not be the most pleasing sounds to modern ears, but the benefits make it worth putting up with the sound.
The technique of blowing air into the recorder and using your tongue to stop notes isn’t too complicated. But, it’s still an excellent introduction to the woodwind family that could lead to playing the oboe or clarinet.
While you are putting melodies together, thinking you are just learning the recorder, you are also learning how to write melodies. You are learning how they are formed, which notes go together and which notes don’t.
3. Electronic keyboard
We decided to add the electronic keyboard separately from the piano because there are so many options.
Electronic keyboards are fantastic practice instruments for players of any age, but children in particular. More specifically, children who might struggle with the size and weight of real piano keys.
Electronic keyboards come in a wide range of sizes, like 25-keys or 61-keys, for example. They also offer mini-keys if full-size keys are a little too big for small hands. The keys are light and easy to play while still being velocity-sensitive.
Besides the physical differences, the keys are precisely like piano keys in terms of layout and pitch. That’s why electronic keyboards are often the best way to start learning the piano before moving onto the real thing or a digital piano.
Learning the piano isn’t just physically demanding; it’s mentally demanding, too. Electronic keyboards take away some of the mental fatigue through fun features like demo songs and play-along rhythms.
Many keyboards come with built-in tutorial content or like to educational apps. The connection to apps is relatable for younger kids and lets them learn in a game-style, where they get points for performing well.
Some keyboards come with more physical tutorial features like light-up keys, which are both fun and helpful.
Finally, they are very portable, often can be battery-powered, and have headphone outputs. They are perfect for kids to practice anywhere without disturbing the grown-ups!
If you are serious about music and everything that entails, the piano is the best instrument to learn as a beginner.
All of the notes are right there in front of you; it’s the easiest instrument to learn how to understand things like harmony and melody.
As a disclaimer, we should say we also class the piano as one of the hardest instruments to learn at an expert level.
It’s one of the most versatile, therefore in-depth instruments there is. However, as a beginner, it offers an easier grasp of the basics.
Once you have a basic understanding of the notes and a simple C major scale, you can do so much. The C major scale is played from one C note to the next, using only white keys – C D E F G A B C. To form the chords that come from the C major scale, you can use the simple play one, miss one formula.
For example, looking at the notes of the scale above and using that system, the first chord would be C-E-G (C major). The second chord would be D-F-A (D minor), and so on.
Next, you can do the same for the A minor scale; A to A, all white keys. It’s the relative minor of C major and contains the same notes in a different order. With those two scales and chord groups, you can play most pop songs ever written.
Applying that to other scales gets trickier because of changes in fingering and chord shapes. But, as you can see, the piano makes understanding theory easier. You can have a lot of fun, playing easy chords and melodies while you develop your technique.
If you have space and are interested in theory, the piano is one of the easiest instruments to learn for adults.
Further reading: 5 reasons learning piano is hard (but doesn’t need to be)
The guitar is the rockstar of instruments. It’s the coolest instrument to learn, the one you dream of playing in front of a packed stadium of fans. Luckily, learning is easier than you might think.
Like the piano, the guitar gets more complicated as you progress, but you can be playing your favorite songs in no time. Be prepared to put up with some sore fingers for a while.
Guitars come in many forms, electric, acoustic, left or right-handed, and in different sizes, so there’s something to suit everyone. Right down to the type of music you want to play, there are guitars custom-built for it.
Adults can play full-size guitars, but if that’s a little big for a youngster, you could try a junior guitar or short-scale (neck) version.
The best thing about learning guitar, in the beginning, is that you just need to learn a few simple shapes to play hundreds of songs. Once you have a few core chords, you can be the life of any party singalong.
It can be hard to make one chord interesting for more than a few beats with other instruments. With the guitar, a simple strumming pattern can carry a single chord far longer.
Nothing feels better than hearing fast progress, and the guitar offers that, even for newbies.
Being a professional drummer takes incredible talent, technical ability, and hard work. But, as a beginner, a drum kit is one of the most instantly gratifying instruments you can play.
When you’re starting out, all you want to do is get solid timing and a decent feel for the drums. So, forget about complex polyrhythms and unusual time signatures.
All you need to think about is four beats in the bar, keep time with the hi-hat, and learn a few kick/snare patterns.
Once you can hold a simple groove, you can start to add simple fills and accents. Although you aren’t doing anything too challenging yet, you’ll be surprised how many songs in multiple genres you’ll get through.
Drummers take some unfair criticism with jokes that suggest they don’t understand music as fully as other musicians. The reality is, most pro drummers will understand harmony, melody, and all theory, as well as a pianist or horn player.
The good news is that you don’t need to at the beginning!
Imagine starting your first band, and the singer can’t reach the high notes of a song, so you have to change the key. While the others are working out how to play in the new key, you can relax with a smug look because your part doesn’t change!
If you don’t want to upset the neighbors, go for electronic drums instead. You can get full mesh kits pretty cheap now, complete with headphones!
Further reading: 6 ways learning drums can be difficult with some remedies
7. Bass guitar
The bass guitar is sometimes considered to be less glamorous than the electric guitar. But, think about this, what gets people on the dance floor, a guitar solo, or a funky bassline?
The bass guitar has four strings, but they are thicker than regular guitar strings and more tiring to play for long periods. Like guitars, bass guitars also come in short-scale versions that are better for young players with smaller hands.
The thing that makes the bass a good choice for a learner is that you only deal with one note at a time.
You can play chords on a bass guitar, but that’s much further down the line and not necessary.
One note at a time means less to think about and much easier sight-reading. Think about pianists who need to read treble and bass at the same time.
One of the first things you will learn is a major scale, which can use the same shape in different keys. Next, you’ll learn a minor pentatonic scale or blues box as the shape is sometimes called.
The minor pentatonic is the foundation of many iconic basslines, and you’ll be playing it in no time. That means you can play famous basslines and start to create your own.
If you are a punk fan, you’ll get through lots of songs with just three notes, making it the easiest band instrument to learn.
The xylophone is another instrument that’s often taught in schools. Whether you want to go on to play a concert marimba or use it as a base for music theory, it’s a great start.
The xylophone is a percussion instrument made up of wooden bars that you strike with mallets.
If that sounds a bit unusual, don’t worry, the bars are laid out just like piano keys. So learning scales or melodies on the xylophone transfer straight over to the piano.
Holding the mallets properly and becoming competent with them does take some work. But, you learn faster when having fun, and hitting keys with mallets is always fun.
It’s a portable instrument, and even though it’s not the kind you might take to a party, it’s easy to move around the house. You have the option of the even smaller glockenspiel, too.
Xylophones are relatively cheap, an easy instrument to learn, which is ideal for children. The fun side of this instrument might appeal to kids more than adults. Although, if you are an adult who thinks learning xylophone doesn’t lead anywhere serious, check out some footage of the late, great Milt “Bags” Jackson on vibraphone.
Any instrument that sounds amazing, costs next to nothing, and fits in your pocket can’t be a bad thing.
The harmonica is by far the smallest instrument on our list, and there are a few different types available. There are diatonic, chromatic, special tunings, and tremolo/octave harmonicas.
The easiest to learn is the diatonic harmonica, so that’s the only one we need to think about for now.
The diatonic harmonica has 10 holes that you inhale/exhale into to make a sound. Each hole represents a different pitch. Each hole can produce two different notes, depending on whether you inhale or exhale.
Diatonic means that the holes only represent notes found in a major scale.
For example, a diatonic harmonica in C major will only have holes for the notes found in the C major scale. Which means you can’t really play the wrong notes, if you have the right harmonica.
Harmonicas are heard in many genres, from country to Stevie Wonder’s hit song, “Isn’t She Lovely”. They are one of the most popular instruments in blues music and often referred to as the blues harp.
Despite needing some effort to get used to the technique, it’s pretty straightforward to nail basic patterns. Those basic patterns can take you around the block countless times in a 12-bar blues. Listen to Little Walter.
Bongos are percussion instruments with an Afro-Cuban heritage. They are prominent in many Latin music styles but can be heard in everything from funk to dance or house music.
Bongos include the Hembra and Macho; the Hembra is the larger drum.
The best thing about bongos and other such percussion instruments is that you play them with your hands.
Now, even if you think you have no musical experience at all, you probably tap along to music, right? If you have any natural rhythm, it will instantly transfer to playing bongos.
They are so intuitive and fun to play, making bongos an easy instrument to learn on your own.
Obviously, there’s more to it than just slapping them with your hands. There are lots of striking techniques with the whole hand or different fingers. You can also produce different sounds by striking a different part of the drum head.
However, in its most basic form, you can think of the Hebra as your main drum and the Macho for accents.
A basic eighth-note pattern can sound amazing and transform any song. Learn to keep a steady tempo, and you won’t sound like a beginner for very long.
Typically, bongos are made of wood, most commonly oak. For beginners, more affordable sets are available made from cheaper wood or even fiberglass.
As we said earlier, learning is easier when it’s fun, and bongos are so much fun.
Some instruments on our list have physical qualities that make them more suitable for children and some for adults.
Whatever age you are, it’s important that you have fun while learning; music is all about self-expression.
Every instrument on our list can bring endless fun while leading to a deeper understanding of music.
Whether you want to be a fully-fledged muso or just want a fun hobby, playing an instrument is a beautiful thing.