So, you want to learn a music instrument, but the band and orchestra families of instruments have never appealed to you. Perhaps you want to learn an instrument but the thought of purchasing or renting a $1000 or above instrument seems unreasonable. If either of these describes you, you may be in the market for a casual instrument.
Casual instruments are instruments that can be learned by anyone and are widely available. Also, to start on one of these instruments you won’t need to cough up a pretty penny for a decent instrument. In most cases, quality casual instruments can be purchased for under $200. Let’s look at some of the more common casual instruments, as well as some you may not know about.
There are many perks that go along with learning guitar. In addition to learning scales, chords, and music theory, novices learning guitar can look forward to eventually learning tunes they hear on the radio. This alone can provide all the extrinsic motivation needed to keep learning and become proficient. Other perks are the mass appeal of the instrument, the wide variety of music available, and the universality of the instrument. At any given moment, you may find yourself playing someone else’s guitar because yours is not readily available.
Piano (Electronic Keyboard)
Much like the guitar, the piano is a very versatile instrument which one can play in a wide variety of styles. There is also the ability to learn music that you hear every day on the radio (e.g. A Thousand Miles by Vanessa Carlton). With electronic keyboards, there is also the ability to change the sound of the instrument to almost any other instrument. Want to hear Fur Elise on organ, harpsichord, or even banjo? Just change the setting on your electric keyboard.
Harmonicas are less versatile than pianos and guitars, but what they lack in versatility they gain in portability. Harmonicas can be taken anywhere and can fit in any purse, suitcase, or pocket. They don’t require any setup or tuning so they are always ready to play. Only have 10 minutes to practice? No problem!
Ukuleles are starting to have the same mass appeal as guitars. They may also be a little easier to learn as they only have four strings, rather than six on guitar. There are four common models of ukuleles: soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone. The soprano and concert are tuned similarly with the concert uke being slightly bigger. The tenor is a little bigger than the concert and has a similar tuning but with strings going from low to high. The baritone ukulele is the biggest in the family and is tuned the same as the highest-pitched four strings on guitar (D, G, B, E).
The ukulele bass, or U-BASS, is a ukulele-sized bass guitar. If you want to learn bass guitar and want a more portable option, this may be for you!
Recorders aren’t just plastic instruments that introduce elementary schoolers to the world of wind instruments. Recorders can be a simple instrument to learn and provide enough depth to keep interest and provide challenges. Those who have passed the novice level often invest in wooden recorders which offer a richer sound.
The new instrument from Yamaha claims to be the next great casual wind instrument. It combines the fingering system of the recorder and the mouthpiece of a soprano saxophone. It uses unique technology to produce a sound similar to a soprano saxophone and at a fraction of the cost.