General Question

jonsblond's avatar

What musical instrument do you play?

Asked by jonsblond (37998 points ) January 21st, 2009 from iPhone

Do you play more than one instrument? If so, which did you find to be the easiest to learn? Do you have family members that also play an instrument? Did you start at a young age, or did you learn later in life?

I’ve found that music seems to run in the family. I started out with the clarinet in 5th grade but moved on to alto saxophone. I enjoy the alto much better than clarinet. My sons play flute, alto sax and guitar. My husband plays alto sax and guitar also.

What about you?

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49 Answers

asmonet's avatar

The geetar. Barely.

dynamicduo's avatar

I have a very musical family. My dad plays a wide variety of instruments, most prominently the banjo and dobro, and has been in many bands in his lifetime. My sister has taken after him, she’s strong on the guitar and upright bass and vocals and is in a few bands now. My mum learned classical guitar but hasn’t played in a long time. I played piano growing up but wasn’t really musically active until I decided to get into playing guitar a few summers ago. I also sing and have been improving greatly in recent times.

row4food's avatar

My brother got all the musical talent. He plays the French horn and piano. He has also self-taught himself the clarinet, flute, cello, violin, bassoon, and guitar.

I’m pretty good at the radio.

tonedef's avatar

Nobody in my family can play anything, while my boyfriend is quite talented. I’ve taught myself very very basic piano, and I can play the theremin somewhat. I’ve put some good stuff together using Garageband as a multitrack editor, and my midi keyboard and a mic as the only inputs.

Technology makes anything possible!

queenzboulevard's avatar

No one in my family plays instruments (although I think I’ve heard my dad say he used to play the piano when he was young). However, my dad had a friend who played the guitar and I would always watch him. I told my parents I wanted to start playing, so they bought me a cheap guitar, and I started trying some of the things I saw my dad’s friend doing. He bought me a blues guitar book (his favorite genre), and I learned a few songs.

I started listening to more music (I started at 11 I didn’t listen to much music), and then I would look up the tabs online and memorize the songs.

I have never played in front of anyone (except when I was young and my dad’s friend would ask me to play blues music for my parents and their friends).

I don’t know any chord names (other than the basics). I have written a few songs, but I feel like they aren’t very good because I don’t know anything about writing music. I just make up a sound (after playing around for an hour), hum out the sound of a few verses and chorus, turn my humz into words, write the words, and record it on Garageband.

steelmarket's avatar

Got myself a geetar, too, @asmonet :D Played reglar when I was a yungun.
All by ear, so I cannot call myself a guitarist, just a picker.

Jack79's avatar

my dad sang in a choir and I have a pretty good voice (I was a professional singer for several years, so I guess I must be ok). Both him and me played the accordeon, and my sister played the piano. None of us was ever any good at any of these. My mother doesn’t even know how to turn on the CD player.

I took a few guitar lessons but am mainly self-taught (acoustic guitar). It’s been my instrument of choice for the past 17 years.

I also played the drums as well as various other percussion instruments in a brass band. I was pretty good at those, though I never managed to play “proper” rock drums. I can never get the synchronisation right.

I’ve played the base for fun a few times. I’m not good, but anyone who can play the guitar and knows some theory can at least play along.

I’ve tried my luck with the electric (solo) guitar and I suck.

I’ve never really learnt to play the piano, though I did have a synth when I was younger and experimented with it.

I was once hired to play the flute at an important event because the guy who was supposed to do it couldn’t make it. I made a fool of myself, but at least learnt to play that one tune.

And I started to learn the sax but never had one to practise on, so I gave up pretty fast.

gailcalled's avatar

Piano primarily; I fumble with the guitar and gave up the violin after six weeks of excruciatingly bad pitch.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I’ve been able to sing for as long as I can remember.

I noodle on piano and bass, but I’ve had no formal lessons.

wundayatta's avatar

My parents were not very musical. My mother claims to have had piano lesson as a child, but it doesn’t show. Neither of them can carry a tune. They torture me once a year by calling up and trying to sing “Happy Birthday.”

When I was 7, my father started learning the recorder, which must have peaked my interest. The next year, when they demonstrated all the instruments in class, I chose the trumpet. I eventually became good enough to play in the regional symphony orchestra, and to win district competitions. I was first trumpet in the high school band for a few years. At that time, I also sang in the chorus. During these years, I also picked up the recorder, and later on, I busked in Germany and picked up some pocket change.

I played my first year in college, but then stopped playing trumpet for about fifteen years. I did, however, start learning African drumming. I did workshops with Babatunde Olatunji, and had lessons from other local players.

After I went to a dijeridu concert, I bought a dijeridu, and learned how to circular breath.

I picked up trumpet again after a fortuitous series of events, and I started playing with an improvisational group. I used my horn, the drum, the recorder, dijeridu, and voice. I started doing workshops for voice, and developed that instrument.

I promised myself that when I got a new job, I could get a flugelhorn, and that’s what I did a few years back. They say, “a trumpet to wed, a flugelhorn to bed.” Your trumpet is your wife, but your flugelhorn is your mistress. I do admit, that my trumpet got fairly jealous after I got my flugelhorn, but they have since come to an easy partnership, although, sometimes the flugelhorn is a bit testy. She pouts, and her valves stick. My trumpet’s valves are always ready for action.

So, lately, I’ve been improvising with several different configuations of people, and doing some recording (just for us), and generally having a good time. Playing my horn is a very spiritual experience, and it is my way into that altered state that is so filling.

I have only played for pay a handful of times. I wish I could find a stable group, play regularly, record, and do gigs locally. Meanwhile, I do have a day job!

I have had my children take piano lessons since they were four. It has worked. They are both considered quite musical. People say they are talented, which used to bother me, since a lot of hard work went into creating that ability, but now I realize that talent can include talents developed by hard work.

I had them both play piano because I wish I had a piano background. It is a big loss for me in terms of understanding music theory. However, I am learning a bit of it as I help them practice. I had imagined they would both pick up their “real” instrument when they were nine. My daughter started singing at that age, and my son is just entering that age. I don’t know if he’ll want another instrument.

I think that learning subsequent instruments gets easier and easier. You only have to develop a new technique with each instrument. You already know music, and sometimes you know techniques that can apply to the new instrument. I’m interested in learning to play double reed instruments, which are supposed the hardest. I am now the proud owner of a shawm, but, so far, it stands on our mantlepiece, looking pretty. I like the instrument because it’s sound is so unavoidable: a raspy, nasal version of an oboe. But learning the double-reed—I don’t know if I can do it.

Music, obviously, is a large part of my life, and I wish I could do it all the time. Unfortunately, the exigencies of life preclude that. I would like to do it for pay, but only because that shows people like it, not because I am doing it for the money. I’m not a musical whore, but I would like respect.

Well, you asked a lot of questions in one

jonsblond's avatar

@daloon That I did. Wonderful response though! Tell me, was the dijeridu easy to learn? That instrument just amazes me. It looks fun.

wundayatta's avatar

@jonsblond: Dijeridu was pretty easy for me. I already knew how to get a sound out of it. Although didge requires more of my lip to vibrate than the horns do. Another part of it is breath control, which I already had. The final technical part is circular breathing. But I only needed to be told the theory and I had a rudimentary skill pretty fast. It takes a while longer to really be able to put it to use for extended periods of time.

I’ve heard that teaching novices is fairly easy, too. It’s a very forgiving instrument. It’s a very meditative instrument. I think it’s also important to understand it’s place in the culture of the Yolngu, who call the dijeridu a Yidaki. The Yidaki link brings up a CD which has descriptions of the meaning of various rituals to enter Dreamtime, as well as more information about the didg.

jonsblond's avatar

@daloon I always had trouble playing horns, it tickled my lips too much . I just couldn’t get past that. Thank you for the link, very interesting!

loser's avatar

Organ, violin, cello, viola, guitar, bass, and mandolin. I learned then in that order and organ was the easiest for me to learn. Maybe because I started when I was seven.

mzgator's avatar

I play the flute and piccolo. I played in the city and church orchestra for many years. I can play a piano, but not great . I taught myself. My daughter had piano lessons and hated it. It was torture for her. I wanted her to play very much. Her interests are in ballet and photography. My husband hates the arts.

90s_kid's avatar

I play the guitar, piano, and saxophone. I self-taught myself the guitar and piano, but took lessons for saxophone.

gailcalled's avatar

Anyone here tried blowing the ram’s horn, or “shofar”? My women’s group at Synagogue tried for two hours at a meeting. Most of us produced only spit.

Here’s what it sounds like (this is the short shofar). There is a twisted three-foot one also..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xW1FQhNZE8o&feature=related

scamp's avatar

I don’t play anything, but my SO plays piano, violin, (he likes to call it a fiddle) banjo and accordian.
On the piano, he only plays ragtime, and one would swear Joplin has returned from the grave!! My favorite piece is Bethena. It’s very pretty and difficult because of the many changes. Funny that I would love a funeral song so much!!

wundayatta's avatar

@gailcalled: ya shoulda had me there. I’d have had you all blowing great warrior calls in no time. [I mean, that was the original use for horns of all kinds]

paradesgoby's avatar

I have had a glockenspiel and ukulele since I was a wee little girl but have never taken the time to learn how to REALLY play them D:

aprilsimnel's avatar

“I don’t know how… to play the PIANO! I never took the time to learn. Songwriting’s not my forte, and rhyming’s harder than it sounds, SAY!”

-Dave Foley

loser's avatar

I play the radio!

jonsblond's avatar

@loser- I started with organ lessons at the local music store when I was 9. We couldn’t afford a piano, but a piano won’t play polka for you, will it!

cyndyh's avatar

I started playing the flute at 10. (My original pick was trumpet, but my folks thought that’d be loud and encouraged me to pick something else. Ha!) Then in high school I picked up the tenor sax so I could play in jazz band as well as band. I really love the sound of the tenor sax but I don’t own one so I probably don’t play that so well anymore. I own several flutes in different styles and still play them. I bought a clarinet in high school and played that for a while, too. Then my kid brought it to school when she was playing it in band and it got stolen from her.

In recent years I started picking up the guitar and the resonator. That’s mostly what I play now. I fiddle with my husband’s bass sometimes, but I don’t really feel like a bass player.

It does seem to run in families. Dad:guitar. Mom: clarinet and drums. Uncle: guitar. Other uncle: harmonica. Brother: guitar and some violin. Grandpa: fiddle and guitar and other assorted instruments. Grandma: ukulele. Daughter: clarinet and now piano. Son: viola. Husband: bass and attempts at sitar. Pretty much everyone sings in the family, but dad shouldn’t. :^>

jonsblond's avatar

@cyndyh- I’m the one in the family that shouldn’t sing. Picture Cameron Diaz in My Best Friend’s Wedding.

cyndyh's avatar

No no no. That’s not so bad. Seriously. You should hear my dad. He’s in this family full of musical people and he probably tries harder than any of us. He’s tone deaf. He’s rhythmically disabled. It’s just the oddest thing. Everyone wants to be so polite to him, but you can see them trying to keep their cringing internal. Just yikes. My brother and I used to say quietly to each other “sometimes it skips a generation”.

Introverted_Leo's avatar

I learned to play the piano by ear, and I still do that. I also played the viola for about nine years, but I wasn’t that serious about it so it now sits in my closet with the cello I bought to teach myself. Though my guitar is still quite visible beside my bed; I try and play it occassionally.

The wierd thing about me is that I’ve taken some music theory and can point out notes and tell you what they are and what’s going on; but when it comes to reading notation while trying to play the piano I just absolutely hate it. I’m much better at learning by ear because once I do read a piece and play it then I just tend memorize it naturally, making the notes useless.

Except for when I sit down and compose music, then I find that notation software is very heplful. Even so, I get frustrated with that because my program plays back MIDI sounds, which don’t always sound very realistic. Getting music to sound a certain way appeals to me more than actually playing it. I’d probably have to try something like Garage Band, but I don’t have an Apple…

I think my affinity for music is more advanced than my actual skill with it, so when I do take lessons I get impatient with myself. This probably has something to do with why I like to compose things rather than play them for people. But to really do what I’d like to—understand the range and capabilities of a wide range of orchestral instruments, western and eastern—I’ll definately have to take more theory classes because my skill level isn’t where I’d think it could be. I’d love to be able to write the sort of music you hear on movies and really good video games. I think that would be really fun.

>>sighs<< But those are big dreams which I have no time, or money, to pursue at the moment. I’m focusing on just trying to get my degree in interior design now.

Bocci's avatar

I can play the drums!

GraceC's avatar

i started piano at the age of 5 and hated it, i still do now but because my mum plays she made me keep playing. I then began to play the oboe and find it much easier, and more enjoyable. At 14 im at grade 5 piano and grade 4 oboe. as i mentioned before my mum plays piano, my brothers plays guitar and drums and my dad plays sax so yes you could say it runs in the family.

jonsblond's avatar

@GraceC Welcome to Fluther! Is that a picture of you in the avatar? Gymnastics? :)

BrEeT's avatar

my mum plays piano and so does my lil sis along with oboe i think lol, but i play less “classical” instuments. I play drums!

jonsblond's avatar

@Bocci
@BrEeT It’s nice to meet new Flutherites that play instruments. Welcome to Fluther!

ilvorangeiceblocks's avatar

i play quite a few instruments. I played the recorder for one year but quickly got bored as the high notes didn’t sound that great. after a few years i started the flute and after 2–3 years i got Really into it. (purchasing more and more music books.) then i started the trombone and joined the college stage and concert bands. i also own an oboe which i know the basics and played the trumpet before a few months but soon quit due to the embouchure changes with the trombone.

gailcalled's avatar

Embouchure. Swoon.

RareDenver's avatar

I’m a drummer by trade but now tend to DJ and compose electronic music

RareDenver

evegrimm's avatar

@gailcalled, I listened to that shofar, and it made my teeth hurt! (durn sinuses!)

In answer to the question, I first picked up piano, then flute (I was in band continuously for 10 (?) years). I also picked up quite a few more instruments during that time: oboe, tuba (I marched a sousaphone for a year! ...it’s almost as big as I am), upright/double bass (most sizes are bigger than I am), piccolo and percussion (xylo/marimba/bells).

I can play sax pretty easily, but never bothered to really ‘learn’.

I wanted to play Bassoon but my band director wouldn’t let me. (He seemed to think I had too small hands or something.)

I attempted to pick up Trombone for Jazz band, but my arms weren’t long enough to play properly.

(My mom played Trombone in HS; my Grandma played bells/french horn.)

I’ve always wanted to learn cello and/or french horn. (My flute teacher wouldn’t hear of my learning french horn or trumpet because she claimed it would mess up my embouchure.)

Oh, and, I collect inexpensive folk flutes, like panpipes, bamboo piccolos, and tin whistles.

I’d love to join a group that does Irish music, especially the more modern sounding stuff.

How’s that for a long answer??

gailcalled's avatar

@evegrimm: My sister and bro-in-law played fiddle (not so well) in a local Celtic band. There were several guitarists, a guy who played Irish pipes, a dulcimer player and the pianist, who kept everyone together. Lots of spirit and energy. Everyone had fun although they were hardly the Clancy Brothers.

They called themselves “Wild Abandon.”

wildpotato's avatar

It’s all about the clarinet! Used to play the piano, didn’t like that nearly as much. Want to learn the harp and the banjo. @jonsblond, I hear it’s actually pretty easy for people who know the clarinet to move to banjo, for some reason.

cyn's avatar

I used to play the clarinet when I was in the 6th grade. I want to learn how to play the piano.

jonsblond's avatar

@wildpotato The banjo sounds fun. My husband has wanted one for years! :)

tandra88's avatar

Well, when I was in the 3rd grade, I played the recorder. Now, I play the flute.

scotsbloke's avatar

I learned to play the cornet when I was 7 and played in a brass band till just last year (I’m 42 now) I’ve played most of the brass instruments, Taught myself piano and guitar and am currently learning the drums.
I found Brass was a great way to learn music, timing, even marching in time! and theres nothing gets the goosepimples up than a brass band playing well.
Being in Scotland I’ve had a go on the chanter and bagpipes but they are not my thing!
Am teaching my 4 year old grand-daughter the recorder and guitar at the moment.

Oh, and cant forget the most important musical instrument EVER invented – the Stylophone! I keep one in my loo for those quiet moments….............lol

chamelopotamus's avatar

I play violin and guitar. I started on violin, in school, at age 11. I played all throughout middle school and high school, in the fun, advanced orchestra, where the action was. I remember being intimidated and not wanting to try the next step, whether it was: first time using the bow, first time reading music without the note’s letter written inside the note, being invited to the advanced, which happened early on (second semester of 9th grade), I resisted it, but the teacher saw my potential and he was right, Im glad I did something with it and had fun with it. But every step paid off and I was rewarded richly. We achieved a lot as a group, and I made a few important friends.

I started fiddling around with the guitar when I was 12 or 13, but got serious about learning only as late as 17, when something happened to me I guess, the stars must have aligned or something, because I discovered the Beatles, John Mayer, blues (Jimi, Eric, Stevie, Buddy) and I rediscovered the Red Hot Chili Peppers from my childhood nostalgia…it was a renaissance and I had to be a part of it. However, I got as good as someone who has been playing for two years, in the span of 6 months, it was easy to pick up, after already learning the principles of music, and training my fingers. I usually don’t use a pick, and have unexpectedly (not what I set out to do), learned how to play fingerstyle and classical.

My brother, is ten years older than me, and plays bass. Meaning he was learning, and copying the slap virtuosos like: Flea, P-nut from 311, Les Claypool, etc. and I was soaking it all in at the age of 4. He used to play Blood Sugar Sex Magik over and over on the stereo, and play along to it. When I learned how to play guitar, my first, instinctual conquest was to learn how to play that entire album. Some days I’ll sit there and play that album start to finish.

I credit it as being deep in my musical roots. If it weren’t for my brother, I might not have gotten into guitar. I actually might not have been in orchestra: my brother and sister were both in orchestra. My sister is seven years older than me, so they were only 3 years apart, and were in the same middle school orchestra once and the same high school orchestra once or twice. My brother played viola and my sister played violin. I think thats why I signed up for orchestra, and I’m so glad I did.

Our dad is very musical, he plays records, and tells you who did it, when they did it, and whatever else he knows about the members, the song, or the time. After a childhood of afternoons filled with music, and information, I now know the classic rock repertoire, and I cherish that music. At one point, he went to disc jockey school, but went into business instead. I’d say music is in the blood, for sure.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

I can’t believe I’ve never seen this thread, but I gotta reply…

I consider myself a multi-instrumentalist. I picked up an accordion (it was very heavy) when I was 5 or so. I learned French horn and other brass through middle school and high school, I was a voice major in college, I learned to play guitar to accompany my singing, and somewhere along the way I learned flute, bass, keyboards, a little mandolin, even less fiddle, and various percussion instruments.

28lorelei's avatar

I have played piano since I was 5, and now I play rather complex classical pieces such as Brahms intermezzos, Chopin Berceuse, Bach preludes and fugues, etc. I also play violin and compose. I prefer piano and composing to violin.
With composing I have an advantage, as I am able to write down my ideas anywhere, if I have a pen and some paper. Piano teaches coordination of hands and harmony, violin teaches pitch and coordination and melody.

RareDenver's avatar

@28lorelei I’m jealous, even though my love is electronic music the skills learnt in the classical instruments and composition are priceless, in fact I would say electronic music has more in common with the classics than rock music

markylit's avatar

I can pick a few tunes on the guitar. But i suck. I have always wanted to play the guitar but i never got to learn it properly. i just picked it from my brother. Maybe someday, i will learn it properly.

rOs's avatar

I rip a mean Alto Sax; I’ve played since 5th grade. I’ve also tooled around on a clarinet, flute, any hand drum, and I can sing to boot!

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