Learning to Play a Musical Instrument in 2 Months. Impossible?
Have you always had the dream of being in a group of people and emerging as the star by playing a musical instrument? Have you already bought an instrument but given up learning to play it during the very first week, after being shocked by the difficulty of the task? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
Many people dream of being able to play a musical instrument; however, circumstances may have prevented them from learning how. The good news is that it’s never too late; the advice provided in this article just might help you make that dream come true, no matter what your age.
You need motivation
The one thing that can get an adult music learner completely involved and prevent him from giving up quickly is a strong motivation for learning to play. Unfortunately, “I like that instrument” kinds of reasons aren’t enough. You need to have strong personal reasons that will impel you to go to your practice room every day and help you put up with the difficulty of practicing your instrument. For instance, you may want to join the university’s orchestra within a certain period of time. You may want to play a song for your mother on her next birthday. Or you may want to someday be a romantic husband who constantly surprises his wife with new love songs. Whatever you want – it’s up to you.
If you don’t already have a motivating reason, you should find one before you start learning to play.
Choose a relatively easy instrument to learn
The violin is a very popular instrument. But although many people want to learn to play it, it’s not the best option for adult beginners; it’s considered to be one of the hardest instruments to master. (In many music schools the upper age limit for starting to learn the violin is eight.) Adult learners should choose instruments that are relatively easy to learn in order to avoid being disappointed and wasting their time. My personal suggestions are the ukulele (illustrated in the accompanying photo), guitar or piano.
(This is not intended to discourage you from learning the violin or any other instrument; if you see yourself being able to do it, just go for it. Learning has no age limit.)
Find a companion
The process of learning to play an instrument is full of challenges and difficulties, but having a companion will make it easier and more fruitful. This can also be beneficial in that it gives your music studies a competitive aspect, which will help you improve faster. You may choose to look for people who have already started learning to play, or else suggest to a friend that he start learning with you. Then practice together, so you can share information (and your suffering).
YouTube is your best source
Some adult learners prefer to take lessons from professional musicians in order to learn their instrument in an academic way. However, this is not the only option, since we have on the internet an excellent platform called YouTube, on which you can find video tutorials in many languages for a variety of instruments and learning levels.
Don’t be too precipitate
An error often made by music students is skipping the basic exercises in order to start playing pieces and songs right away. This is similar to someone who has just started learning to write deciding to write a book. If you start learning the piano, for example, don’t expect to play a Tchaikovsky concerto your first week. You should start with basic (boring) piano exercises to train your hands and prepare them to play more melodic pieces later on.
Practice, practice and…practice
Yes, this is the advice that you’ve been expecting since the beginning of this column. Like other activities involving skilled technique, playing music requires regular practice in order to help your fingers remember movements and do them quickly. As a university student, you may not find it easy to fit practicing into your schedule. However, you should always remember your motivating reason and organize your time accordingly.
One often-asked question is, “How long should I practice?” This is actually the wrong question, because in learning to play an instrument, quality matters more than quantity. For example, 30 minutes a day of efficient practice – practicing your instrument far away from any disturbing factors (your phone, your noisy roommate, etc.) – is way better than two hours of inefficient practice. Beginners are advised to start with short practice sessions, in order to avoid boredom, and then increase the amount of time gradually.
(At Bilkent, the studios in the music faculty building provide a peaceful environment where you can practice efficiently, without being interrupted or bothering your dorm mates or neighbors with your new hobby.)
Don’t make learning monotonous
After some months of learning to play a musical instrument, you may observe that your practice sessions are becoming monotonous; you’re always repeating the same songs and pieces. This is one thing that can make aspiring musicians give up learning. You should keep your music studies challenging by always increasing the difficulty of the exercises and pieces you play, along with trying new musical styles.
To conclude, if you’re intending to start learning to play a musical instrument, I want to tell you that you’re about to make an excellent decision that will change your life and personality for the better. All you need to realize your dream of becoming a musician is passion and patience.