The 10 Most Popular Musical Instruments to Learn

The 10 Most Popular Musical Instruments to Learn

A parent is usually giddy with excitement and pride when their children say they want to learn a musical instrument – provided, of course, that they’re interested in something more than banging a drum at all hours of the night.
The question then becomes, which instrument? Perhaps the child dreams of channeling his inner Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters) and wants to learn electric guitar. Or do they want to be a keyboard master, or toot the saxophone, or sound the beauty of the violin.

The choice is highly personal. Whichever instrument is chosen, there is a host of teachers out there ready to pass on their knowledge. Many teachers now use music education software to make it easier for students to stay on track and keep parents informed on their progress.

Here is a list of the 10 most popular instruments to play, gleaned from a variety of sources:

  • Piano/Keyboard. Some experts separate the two, and they do have different uses, but the basics are very similar. Some instructors believe that learning to play piano should be a prerequisite for learning any other instrument. “Despite being a single instrument, a piano covers the full spectrum of any instrument featured in the orchestra,” according to the La Habra and Corona Music Centers. It teaches coordination between hands and between the hand and the eye.
    • Guitar. The rise of rock music has lifted the popularity of the guitar. The video game is called “Guitar Hero,” not “Piano Hero,” for a reason. Some articles even put the guitar at the top of the list. Like the piano, it can be played solo or in a group, and it can teach vital hand-to-hand and hand-eye coordination. There are also several varieties, such as electric, acoustic and bass.
    • Violin. While it is most often associated with classical music – the first violinist is, after all, second to the conductor in the orchestra pecking order – it has emerged in several other musical genres. “It is fairly easy to learn and you can purchase different sizes, which makes this a great instrument for kids to start out with,” according to the Creative School of Soul website.
    • Drums. Yes, parents and siblings will likely need noise-canceling headphones but drums are also a good way to learn musical discipline, since understanding the nuances of the instrument will eliminate the urge to simply bang around. It is so integral to many musical genres, from classical to rock to jazz, that it should always be among the most popular instrument.
    • Saxophone. The sax is the most popular wind instrument and is highly desired by school orchestras. Available in all sound ranges from alto to contrabass – though alto and tenor are the most prominent – they come in all shapes and sizes and are useful in a variety of genres, though they are most known for jazz.
    • Flute. A quiet and highly portable instrument, it is very easy to learn, according to the Ambient Mixer blog, and doesn’t cost too much money. It can also be used as a stepping stone to other instruments. Though primarily a classical instrument, it has adapted to other genres and was a foundational instrument for the 1970s rock group Jethro Tull.
    • Clarinet. Many students start their musical training with the recorder in elementary school music class, and the step up to the clarinet is natural. It is a woodwind and, like the flute, is small, lightweight and versatile. The clarinet is a staple of classical and jazz orchestras.
    • Cello. Luckily, cellos for younger students aren’t horribly huge, but they get pretty heavy as the student gets older. It is a key string instrument, along with the violin and viola, and is used mostly in symphony orchestra and chamber quartets. It can accompany almost any instrument, and there are some solos in the repertoire.
    • Trumpet. The king of the brass instruments is used in almost every genre. An integral part of symphony orchestra brass sections, the trumpet is also crucial to jazz, R&B and some rock ensembles. Available in a variety of sizes, it helps enhance motor skills and, as a Normans Musical Instruments blog states, can even exercise abdominal muscles.
    • Voice. Yes, the mellifluous tones of the singing voice is an instrument – and perhaps the most crucial instrument in choir, pop, rock, R&B, country and many forms of jazz. A Cappella and barber shop quartets wouldn’t exist without it.

Learning to sing well leads to controlled breathing, and there’s no instrument to lug around. Instructors, both school-based and independent, can help parents and children decide which instrument is best for them.


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