Gransnet forums


learning a musical instrument

(29 Posts)
frue Sat 02-Apr-16 10:08:29

Positive Ageing advice suggests learning something new. Any recommendations for a musical instrument - never have, can't read music

Ukulele and mandolin courses at local adult education centre

Luckygirl Sat 02-Apr-16 10:41:01

It depends what you want to do with this new skill. Do you just want to tinker for your own pleasure or do you want to join with others to make music?

If you learn the ukelele, mandolin or guitar, you can make fairly rapid progress in producing chords for you and others to sing along too. But be warned, your fingers will get sore to start with before they harden up! If you want to be able to play tunes, then this will be a longer and much harder task.

The piano is a huge challenge to learn from scratch when you are older. Not only do you have to learn to read the treble and bass clef, but the essence of good piano playing is being able to find the notes without looking down at the piano - this is a skill that is best learned young when the distances become internalised easily.

And as for the violin - this might result in divorce from OH or neighbours! - it is one of those instruments that is only tolerable (or indeed wonderful) when played well.

The harmonica is relatively easy and there are lots of online courses and also books. It fits in your pocket and you can take it anywhere with you. You need to research this a bit as there are different types - some you can play in different keys; and some that you have a different instrument for each key. They are fairly cheap to buy. The only problem I have with mine is that I get out of breath!

I think a wind instrument would be another good option - only one clef of music to learn and satisfying tunes arrive quickly. Reed instruments like the oboe and clarinet require an initial struggle to get a note at all, and the flute requires a lip technique which you either get quickly or have to work hard at. You also need fairly flexible non-arthritic fingers that can stretch.

I really do think that the descant recorder is the best option. It is easy to learn, cheap to buy, and there are lots of recorder tutor books to be found. You will make rapid progress and maybe you could play alongside your GC, if you have any. It is a serious instrument and there are many play-for-fun recorder groups around - often with U3A. You can make a start for under £10 as a simple plastic recorder can be had for as little as £2 plus say a fiver for a tutor book. As you progress you can invest in a nice wooden instrument.

I envy you this exciting journey - have fun!!

hummingbird Sat 02-Apr-16 10:55:26

Oh, do it Frue! I'm learning to play the piano. We've had the piano since the children were small, and both play. Over the years I've thought about getting rid of it, but both of them insisted that they'd love to take it - indeed, they quarrelled lightheartedly about who should have it. Last year, in a fit of decorating fever, I tried to press first one, then the other into taking it. Guess what? They don't have the room! So I decided to learn how to play the flipping thing myself! And I love it - it's therapy! And I'm getting better. I can still render well known tunes into unrecognisable clatter, but I'm improving. Guess who's sorry now! Good luck!

pompa Sat 02-Apr-16 11:01:20

The Ukulele is Fun Fun Fun.

They are relatively cheap to buy, £50 will buy you a good playable instrument (please steer clear of anything under £30 most have serious problems that will hinder your playing). If possible speak to someone who plays and try several instruments, there are three common sizes. Depending on the size of your hands, you may find one size better than another.
Take a look at the instrument reviews here (This guy is independent and gives unbiased reviews)

Join a group or club, however inexperienced you are, the ukulele is a group instrument. Let me know where you live and I can advise you of local groups.

They are easy to play - I promise you, that with 10 min practise a day you will be playing many songs within a month. The chords C F G allow hundreds of songs to be played.

If you fancy taking up the Ukulele, PM me and we can chat on phone or skype.

pompa Sat 02-Apr-16 11:02:56

As far as how easy, I have been playing for 9 months and now enjoy playing regular public performances with my group (Maldon Ukulele Group)

Penstemmon Sat 02-Apr-16 11:26:56

pompa were you in that film "45 years"? wink

pompa Sat 02-Apr-16 11:52:20

Sorry that went over my head, never seen or heard of that film, but I'm sure the answer is no.

NotTooOld Sat 02-Apr-16 12:02:41

Oh, pompa and others, you make learning an instrument sound so easy. A couple of years ago I joined a uke (sorry, ook) group, bought the instrument and the music stand and everything, and joined a local group. As I think I mentioned upthread,, I didn't realise you only learned chords and the tune was produced by singing. I can't sing, never have been able to, so I found it all quite embarrassing. I can read music as I learned the violin when I was at school (that didn't go well, either) so now I'm wondering about teaching myself the descant recorder, as Luckygirl suggests, although it could end in divorce!

pompa Sat 02-Apr-16 13:13:14

It is easy, you don't need any previous musical knowledge or read music. Yes, you do ideally need to sing, but by joining a group, you let them sing. Some songs we sing are just for the ladies, so us guys keep mum.

Greyduster Sat 02-Apr-16 13:36:46

I've got a recorder you can have if you want it! Just don't take it to parties! grin

pompa Sat 02-Apr-16 14:46:34

Here is a clip from one of our early gigs (we are much improved now, glad to say )

pompa Sat 02-Apr-16 14:47:10

I'm the good looking one !

NotTooOld Sat 02-Apr-16 17:23:13

Greyduster - thank you for the offer but the enthusiasm has already waned, I'm afraid! I'll never make a musician.

Pompa - I'm impressed!

Nana3 Sat 02-Apr-16 18:05:02

Looks great fun pompa, nice bunch of friends you have there.

Penstemmon Sat 02-Apr-16 18:09:51

Ah Pompa there was a jolly chap in the film who had taken up the ukelele in retirement and was keen to share his enjoyment of his new found skill.

Penstemmon Sat 02-Apr-16 18:11:01

Meant to add that DGC learn the uke in school. They like it too.

pompa Sat 02-Apr-16 18:13:37

They are a great bunch, we have such a laugh every Monday night.

granjura Sat 02-Apr-16 18:34:43

Can't read music either (had to learn but hated it)- my dream is to learn the hang.

Ana Sat 02-Apr-16 18:37:31

Wasn't one of your guests going to teach you, granjura? Or perhaps there was only enough time for a quick practise?

granjura Sat 02-Apr-16 18:42:00

Daniel and friends were only here for 3 days - arriving at midnight on the Sunday, with 2 gigs organised on Monday, and another 2 on Tuesday- including the big one at the back of our house on Tuesday night, that went on to 4am - and they left on Wednesday morning to get to Amsterdam in time for their next gig. So had a bit of practice, but just not enough - I want my own now, but they are very hard to come by:

granjura Sat 02-Apr-16 18:46:14

Greyduster Sat 02-Apr-16 18:53:32

Pompa that looks like great fun! I'm also impressed! I will have to ask step-GS if he'll let me have a go!

NotTooOld, I don't blame you. I remember my father, when I was learning at school, saying that the recorder was a very difficult instrument to love!! I only bought mine to keep GS company while he was learning, but even he has given up on it now!

Maggiemaybe Sat 02-Apr-16 18:53:54

My DS taught himself guitar via free online tuition, and is really very good (says his proud mum).

Inspired by this, I bought myself a lovely red violin on ebay in the early hours of New Year's Day 2000 while very, very drunk and swore I would learn to play as my New Year resolution yes, extremely drunk.

Online tuition in the subsequent 16 years has taught me to screech through Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, very badly. Perhaps I'll invest in a ukulele - they look like a lot more fun smile

granjura Sat 02-Apr-16 18:59:40

ooops that link didn't copy- will try another of a little practice session by one of our local waterfalls- and then you can hear my weird accent too:

granjura Sat 02-Apr-16 19:00:05

nope - sorry