With the rise of Google, Youtube, and other apps and sources, learning a new instrument has never been easier. There are dozens of ways to learn, whether teaching yourself, finding an instructor, or taking an online course.
In addition, with websites such as eBay or Craigslist, it is incredibly easy to find used instruments for cheap or sometimes even free. Obtaining these instruments used to be a difficult task but now can be done with just the click of a button and a few dollars.
There are many reasons that people decide to learn a new instrument, and aspiring musicians are increasing in numbers by the day. Some are drawn by the studies that show that learning to play a musical instrument works a different part of the brain and boosts creativity and intelligence. Other people want to be able to play Beethoven sonatas or to join a band.
The first step to becoming a musician is to pick your instrument. This is the tool that will cultivate your growth as a musician, and determine what kind of musician you will become. As a lifelong musician myself, I know how difficult it can be to make the decision and the importance of choosing the right one for you.
Piano and guitar are the two most accessible and versatile options, and therefore probably the most popular among beginner musicians. Both are relatively easy to pick up, and there are countless resources (many of them free) for each of these instruments.
If you’re trying to decide between piano and guitar, you’ve come to the right place. Having played each of them for many years, I know the pros and cons of each and can help you make the right decision.
Piano vs. Guitar: Which One is Harder to Learn?
Piano and guitar are both relatively easy instruments for which to learn the basics. Unlike instruments such as the violin, the technique is fairly simple and you’ll be playing your first notes or chord within no time. However, they do each have their own challenges.
Answering this question will involve creating a picture of your goals with each instrument. Do you want to play classical music? Chords to pop tunes? Simple melodies?
With guitar, it’s fairly easy to pick up chords and you’ll be able to play the chords to many pop songs within the first couple weeks. You’ll sound like you’ve been playing for much longer than you actually have, and each new chord you learn will add many new songs into your repertoire.
Many people decide to teach themselves the guitar, so there are many free resources online to help you out. YouTube is a great place to start.
Piano, on the other hand, has a slightly different approach. Instead of reading chord symbols, most pianists know how to read music and can recognize notes on a staff. This is a bit of a learning curve and can take some adjustment.
Other people skip this step and learn to play with chord symbols or by ear. This is a valid approach and has many benefits, such as better improvisational skills. Remember that you can always decide to learn how to read notes later on if you decide.
So, which is easier—piano or guitar? It depends on your learning style, but generally, the guitar is easier to master the basics with chords, and piano is easier to master when it comes to melodies. If ease is a big part of your decision, remember to consider your goals for the instrument.
How Long Does It Take to Master Piano?
Learning to “master” the piano takes many years of dedicated practice. Developing the coordination, knowledge, and dexterity to play complicated pieces takes a long time.
If that’s your goal, keep that in mind, and don’t be discouraged if you’re still struggling after a year or two. I’ve been playing the piano for 18 and teaching it for several years and I still sometimes feel as though I haven’t fully mastered the instrument.
Many people who choose the piano only want to master the basics so that they can jam with friends or start their own band. This can be done much more quickly and accomplished within a few months. This method also allows for more creativity and flexibility in style.
Set short term goals for yourself so that you always notice your improvement. Only setting long-term goals can be frustrating and make it difficult to see your own progress. Remember that learning to play the piano is more like a marathon, not a sprint.
How Long Does It Take to Learn to Play Guitar?
In my experience, learning the basics of the guitar can be done within a couple of weeks. You just need to establish a good strum pattern and learn about four chords before you’ll be able to play a whole song and sing along. All of this information can be easily found online.
Mastering the guitar is similar to mastering the piano. It depends on your goals and ideals. Being good enough to improvise a solo in a band would take a lot more leg work. You would need to practice for several months and also have a general knowledge of scales and music theory.
Even the best musicians are still trying to improve, so don’t be discouraged and feel like you’re not good enough. Take pride in what you can do and work hard to achieve what you can’t. If you follow that rule, you’ll be a “master” of your instrument in no time
Which One of Piano or Guitar is More Expensive?
How much money you spend on learning an instrument is really up to you. The guitar is likely to be a little cheaper, but many factors play into this.
The first step is obtaining your instrument. If you want a new instrument of good quality, this will be the most expensive part by far, especially if you’re buying an acoustic piano. Keyboards and guitars will be less pricey, but quality instruments are never cheap.
If you’re looking to spend less money, Craigslist and eBay are both good options for finding used instruments. Many people will even offer to give away upright pianos for free, as long as you’re willing to pay for the move or move the piano yourself, which is not an easy task. This is a great option for someone who wants to learn to play music but can’t afford to buy a brand new instrument.
The next step is to decide how you are going to learn. There are many online resources available for free, but you’ll be able to learn faster and more effectively if you take private lessons from an instructor.
Keep in mind that there are generally more online resources available for guitar, and therefore self-teaching is more common and much easier. Pianists are far more likely to be taking lessons one-on-one from an instructor. Prices for lessons vary depending on where you live and who you learn from.
After this, there are some maintenance costs. For guitars, this involves buying strings when the old ones break. For piano, you will need to occasionally hire a technician (about every 6-12 months) to re-tune the instrument. This cost can also be avoided if you purchase a keyboard instead.
None of these maintenance costs should break the bank, but it is something to think about before you make a commitment to your instrument.
As already mentioned, there are tons of free or cheap ways to access instruments or instruction using online resources. Both piano and guitar are excellent choices. Because of their popularity, it’s very easy to find teachers, resources, or online instructional videos.
However, it can be difficult to know where to begin when you’re first starting out. With guitar, it’s a little easier to self-direct your studies based on the songs you want to learn and what your goals are. You can find a hodge-podge of information from a variety of different sources that will together help you to reach your goals.
If you’re planning to teach yourself piano, it may be easiest to buy a book for beginning adults. Because there is so much information to learn right from the get-go, it can be difficult to piece it all together using free online resources.
I would recommend a book because it’ll walk you through each new concept in a way and an order that makes sense. Once you’ve mastered one concept, it’s easy to turn the page and know what to work on next. Experts have carefully chosen exactly how to introduce each new challenge so that it’s easy for beginners to understand.
Beginner adult piano books can be fairly cheap, so it wouldn’t be a big expense. It would teach you everything from technique to musical notation and is easier than piecing together many free online resources for beginning pianists.
It can also be incredibly helpful to have a support system around you of other musicians who share your instrument. You can bounce ideas off of each other, share discoveries, or ask advice of and learn from those who are better than you are. If you have other friends who play either guitar or piano, that’s a major perk.
Guitarist vs. Pianist Personality
You should also take into consideration the usual personality of the instrument you’re undertaking. Piano vs. guitar each cultivates its own type of musician, and you should at least consider the differences.
You’ve probably been to a concert of sorts with both a keyboard and a guitar player. The thing about guitar is that they are much more mobile and also in the spotlight more often. They have more of an opportunity to attract attention and be the main show.
The keyboardist, on the other hand, is often in the background. They too can have solos but are stuck in one place due to the nature of the instrument. Most of their playing involves background chords and keyboard solos are heard less often than guitar.
Of course, all of this is specific to rock and pop music. If you’re interested in taking a more classical track, it may be different.
In that case, most pianists are used to taking the spotlight. Many classical pianists are trained primarily (and sometimes exclusively) with solo repertoire. They are used to being featured and “stealing the show” because they are the show!
On the other hand, classical guitarists often work collaboratively. They often provide accompaniment for other instruments or other guitarists with smaller solo moments of their own.
Remember to always envision your end goal for each instrument and base your decisions on that. For example, if you want to be outgoing on stage, move around, and have a lot of solos with a band, guitar might be best for you.
Piano and guitar are both great choices for new and aspiring musicians. Both instruments will help you to learn and solidify the basics of music. Both are also versatile enough that you can play many different styles and genres of music.
As you can tell, there are a lot of factors at play when choosing an instrument to learn. The most important thing, though, is to establish goals and ideals for yourself as a musician. What kind of music do you want to play? Do you want to play in a group or as a soloist? How much money are you willing to spend, and on what?
The answer to these questions is what will lead you to the right instrument. Hopefully, with this new knowledge and insight into the process for each instrument, you’ll be able to confidently make a decision one way or the other.
If you’re still uncertain, no worries! Either instrument is probably a good match for you. Don’t stress about making a decision. Pick whichever interests you the most and go with it!
Remember that making music is a lifelong skill that can bring joy to both you and those around you. Don’t let yourself get discouraged and stick with it! You may be surprised at your own ability and what you can create.
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