Choosing the Right Instrument for You:
How I Chose (and fell in love with) the Flute
Congratulations!If you’re reading this blog, it likely means that you or someone you love is at the start of a beautiful journey: learning to play a musical instrument!Whether you’re about to begin with a band/orchestra program or you’re picking an instrument up for your own enjoyment, you no doubt have a world of joy ahead of you.
But before you can embark on your journey, you have to answer one daunting question: which instrument is right for you? The choices can feel overwhelming at first: within each category of instrument (woodwinds, brass, strings, etc.)is a myriad of options. How can you be sure which one will be the most enjoyable to you? Never fear—that’s where this step-by-step guide comes in!Below are some steps you can take to narrow down your options, with examples from my own journey (which started...let’s say several years ago).
- FIND WHAT SOUNDS GOOD
Though this step can often feel like a no-brainer, I find that many folks skip right over it. If you’re feeling stuck on where to start,I encourage you to get curious by listening around for instruments with sounds that you love. YouTube is an excellent resource for introductions to instruments, even ones that you may not have considered! This certainly rang true for me when I was in the third grade—I found myself in awe every time I heard the flute in the orchestral CDs my parents would play for me. It came as no surprise when they asked me about studying an instrument, the flute was my first suggestion.
Check out this awesome playlist from the Philharmonia Orchestra, which has clips of every major instrument in the orchestra!:
- CONSIDER THE CONTEXT
A major component of your instrument selection should be the context you want to play in. Given the sheer number of musical styles and instruments, “context” can refer to a number of music-making elements. If you’re planning on joining a band or orchestra program, you’ll know the answer to many of these questions quickly! However, if you’re feeling unsure, start with some of these questions:
*Are you more interested in performing as a soloist, with a small group, or with a large ensemble?
*Is there a local music program that you would like to be involved in? These can include your local marching band, a community choir, or a rock band that you’re putting together!
*Which musical genre are you most interested: jazz, pop, rock, classical, or something else?
-Jazz: guitar, bass, drums, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, piano
- Pop: piano, guitar (acoustic),voice, ukulele
- Rock: guitar(acoustic or electric),bass, drums
- Classical: violin, viola, cello, double bass, flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon, trumpet, French horn, trombone, euphonium, tuba, piano, harp, percussion
•What size instrument would you like to play? Are you able to take on additional equipment, such as amps, microphones, etc.?
- Small instruments: violin, viola, flute, clarinet, oboe, ukulele
- Medium instruments: guitar, cello, saxophone, bassoon, trumpet, trombone, French horn
- Large instruments: piano, double bass, drums, tuba
By getting in touch with how you want to engage with music-making, you’ll be able to whittle down your pool instruments that much more. When it came to choosing my instrument, my decision was made easy by my strong interest in classical music. When I learned I could be in my school’s wind band AND my local youth orchestra by playing the flute, I was thrilled! As someone who wasn’t all that interested in taking the spotlight, I was excited to play with such large groups where I could blend, though I got my chances to stand out as a soloist in my ensembles. My parents were also certainly relieved when I chose a compact instrument—no need to lug the double bass to rehearsal in an SUV!
3. NOTHING TO IT, BUT TO DO IT
Finally, the best thing you can possible due to help make your decision is to take the leap and try some instruments out. Most music instrument stores typically offers a week-long trial period for all instrumental rentals, so you can truly take the time to determine the right instrument for you. I certainly took advantage of the trial periods for the flute and clarinet that I tried—I found myself stuck between the two, but as soon as I got my hands on a flute, it was all over. Don’t be afraid to try something new and walk away from it. Your decision should take some trial and error! If you find that you don’t like an instrument you try, you are one step closer to finding the right one for you.
If you need a place to start with trying out a new instrument, check out PotomacMusic’s rental program and take a look at our calendar for upcoming events!While you’re at it, we invite you to come in for your very first lesson with us. You’ll receive one-on-one instruction and our teachers will help you love your instrument.
Choosing an instrument can be a tough decision, but the process will always be worth it in the end. No matter what you choose to play, I hope you find as much joy, confidence, and fun as the flute has brought me. Get out there and make some noise!