easy instruments harmonica and guitar
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7X Easiest instruments to learn & play

Learning an instrument doesn’t have to be difficult. You should be able to explore your love of rhythm and melody without spending your whole life training.

Here, we’ll look at seven of the easiest instruments to play.

7 easiest instruments to learn:

  1. Bongos
  2. Castanets
  3. Recorder
  4. Tambourine
  5. Harmonica
  6. Ukelele
  7. Guitar
easy instruments harmonica and guitar

The easiest instruments to play are the Bongos, Castanets, Recorder and Tambourine. There are plenty more out there that didn’t make the top 7.

1# Bongos - (percussive instrument)

How the Bongos sound when played well:

Why it’s easy:

  • Basic techniques can be picked up easily
  • Can be played in a variety of places for comfort
  • Lightweight so no physical stress

These small, hand-held drums originated from Afro-Cuban culture. They are typically played by striking the drumheads with the hands and fingers. Bongos add vibrant rhythms and percussive flair to a wide range of musical genres, from Latin to jazz and beyond.

We consider bongos to be relatively easy to learn as percussive instruments. You simply use your hands to strike the drum’s heads with your fingers and palms to make sounds. Different strokes will vary the beat. You create accents by switching between the larger female drum, the hembra, and the smaller male drum, the macho.

When you know how to play the bongo drums, you can add a lot of energy to any musical piece by making more complicated rhythms and patterns. You can play fast, syncopated beats, make smooth shifts, and create dynamic changes in volume and tempo.

Being good at techniques like the martillo, slaps, open tones, and muted strokes lets you play in a lot of different ways. You’ll be able to perform solos on the spot, blend in perfectly with other instruments, and even lead percussion ensembles, showing off your new creative rhythmic skills and hard-won technical mastery.

2# Castanets - (percussive instrument)

How the Castanets sound when played well:

Why it’s easy:

  • Simple rhythmic techniques are easy to grasp
  • Finger strikes and snaps can be learned by anybody
  • The immediate sound response helps you adjust your technique easily

Castanets consist of two small concave shells made of wood or other material connected by a string. To play them, you click them together with your fingers to produce rhythmic patterns. Spanish flamenco music and other traditional folk dances often use these little instruments.

Castanets attach to your fingers and thumbs, and all you need to do to produce sound is open and close your hands! They are also relatively cheap and 100% portable. Playing castanets may be beneficial for the development of dexterity. They’re also great for improving your fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and timing.

When you can play the castanets well, you can add dramatic flair and precision to flamenco music by playing quicker, more complicated rhythms. Mastery allows you to use complex polyrhythms and syncopated hand moves to enhance musical compositions.

Castanets are very adaptable instruments that skilled players can use in a variety of different dance styles. You can also play around with accents and change the pace to make expressive, percussion-based songs.

High levels of skill not only mesmerize spectators, but they also improve the quality of both solo and group performances on the castanets.

3# Recorder - (wind instrument)

How the recorder sounds when played well:

Why it’s easy:

  • Simple fingering placement system
  • Minimal breathwork is required to get sound
  • Lightweight to hold and easy to care for

When played well, a recorder is clear and sweet. However, when played badly, it’s the opposite! Fortunately, this instrument is very easy to learn. Like games that encourage kids’ cognitive skills, the recorder is ideal for little ones as it helps to stimulate creativity. It also helps to develop focus and enhance attention. These are skills adults can benefit from, too.

A recorder is usually made of plastic, wood, or resin. It has a whistle mouthpiece and finger holes, making producing notes easy. You just blow into the recorder and move your fingers to play high and low notes. The fingering system for the recorder is also simpler than it is for other instruments, making it easier to learn musical notation.

When you’re proficient in this instrument, you can play a wide range of difficult pieces, including classical, folk, and modern music. You’ll have good intonation, smooth articulation, and dramatic dynamics when you play. Mastering advanced methods like vibrato, trills, and double tonguing will help you express yourself musically more clearly, giving you the confidence to play with others or by yourself.

4# Tambourine - (percussive instrument)

How the tambourine sounds when played well:

Why it’s easy:

  • Simple hand movements can vary the sound interestingly
  • Easy hold and strike movement is intuitive
  • Quick learning curve for accent control

The tambourine is incredibly versatile from rock to pop, country to folk. It’s played by shaking, tapping, or striking a shallow, circular frame with metal jingles (known as “zils”) fastened to the edges.

The tambourine is seen as a simple, versatile instrument. It works brilliantly for teaching students the basics of percussion. Making different sounds with it is easy since these change according to how it’s shaken or hit. Students can experiment by tapping the rim of the tambourine for quieter passages of music. They can also strike the head with their knuckles to make louder sounds.

When you find your feet playing the tambourine, you can add more rhythm to the music by shaking, tapping, and rolling it more precisely. By changing the force and area of hits, you can make accents that change over time. Finger taps and thumb rolls, in which the thumb slides along the edge of the tambourine, are more advanced moves that add style.

Professional players can easily incorporate the tambourine into a wide range of musical styles, adding a complex percussive element to both live performances and recordings.

5# Harmonica - (free-reed instrument)

How the harmonica sounds when played well:

Why it’s easy:

  • Key techniques like puckering are easy to grasp
  • Can carry anywhere to practice
  • Needs no additional setup accessories

A harmonica is a tiny wind instrument. It comprises chambers within a rectangular or circular frame. The harmonica is played by blowing or drawing air through metal reeds. At the same time, these reeds are manipulated by the mouth and hands.

The harmonica is easy to play because it has a simple layout. You only play one note at a time. Each hole on the harmonica corresponds to a specific note, and you make music by blowing out or drawing in air. This makes learning to play simple. You don’t have to learn complex chord progressions or finger movements.

When you’re skilled at playing the harmonica, you can easily master methods such as bending notes, overblowing, and producing a rich vibrato. You’ll have the ability to perform complicated solos and sophisticated melodies, even imitating the sounds of other instruments.

The ability to execute a wide range of musical styles, from rock and classical to blues and jazz, depends on your proficiency level. Additionally, you’ll find it increasingly easy to improvise, join bands, and enhance musical works by adding expressive and soulful harmonica parts that fascinate audiences.

6# Ukelele - (string instrument)

How the ukelele sounds when played well:

Why it’s easy:

  • Only 4 strings make chords easy
  • Small neck makes for a comfortable playing position
  • The tension in the strings is light compared to other string instruments

A ukulele is a small, four-stringed musical instrument resembling a guitar. It originates from Hawaii and has a bright, cheerful sound.

The ukulele is easier to learn than the guitar because its smaller size reduces tension in the writs and makes the notes more reachable. You don’t have to stress your hands as you stretch, trying to reach different notes. It also only has 4 strings, which makes the scales and chord shapes easier to learn quickly. Plus, you don’t need effects pedals or any other fancy equipment. You can just strum and sing along!

Once you know how to play the ukulele, you can make a lot of different kinds of music. You can easily strum through complicated chord progressions, switching between inversions and voicings without any problems. Your fingers will start moving smoothly along the fretboard, picking out tunes or making up soulful solos. As your skills grow, you will be able to add percussive skills like fingerpicking and tapping to your songs, giving them more depth.

Every time you play the ukulele, your skills will improve. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing classic Hawaiian songs, jazz standards, or new pop hits.

7# Guitar - (string instrument)

How guitar sounds when played extremely well:

Why it’s easy:

  • Playing basic chords can be learnt quickly like E minor or G major
  • Simple strumming patterns are quick to pickup
  • Tabs are straightforward and don’t require much theory to teach yourself

An acoustic guitar typically features a flat-backed, rounded body, a long-fretted neck, and, usually, six strings. The strings are strummed or plucked to produce sound.

They say the guitar is an easy instrument to learn because the notes are well marked. The frets are noted very clearly. Players aren’t required to know precisely where the frets are. The way guitar chords are formed also makes playing the right notes comfortable.

You can learn most every type of music on the guitar, from rock and blues to jazz and classical. As your proficiency increases, you’ll be able to make up solos on the spot, moving between scales and modes without any problems. Fingerpicking and complex strumming patterns become effortless, letting you play difficult pieces without trouble.

You’ll also be able to write your own music, try out different tunings, and even play by ear. You can work with other musicians more easily when quickly switching between styles and playing complicated chords and progressions. Skill gives you a lot of room to be artistic and express yourself.

Playing an instrument will enhance your cognitive power!

Playing music can enhance brainpower by improving cognitive skills such as memory and problem-solving. It also boosts concentration and focus, benefiting both children and adults in all stages of life. Research indicates that learning an instrument may even help prevent cognitive decline in older age.

However, beginners often face frustration and self-doubt during the learning process. Yet, overcoming these challenges fosters resilience and confidence, leading to a sense of accomplishment. Furthermore, playing music serves as a form of self-expression, which can reduce stress and improve overall mental well-being. Thus, while the journey has its ups and downs, the mental benefits of learning an instrument are undeniable.

Choose the right instrument

When choosing an instrument to learn, consider several factors. These include your tastes, musical interests, and the instrument’s utility. To begin, consider what kind of music you like to listen to and can imagine yourself playing.

If you like folk or pop music, the guitar may appeal to you because it can be used in many different styles. If mobility and ease of use are important to you, the harmonica or ukulele are a great choice for beginners because they are small and easy to play.
If you’re interested in percussion instruments instead, you should try the bongos, the tambourine, or the castanets. Each has its own rhythmic options and adds a dynamic element to making music.

Are you interested in classical music or want to start playing wind instruments? Then, the recorder is an easy way to learn how to read music and play rhythms.
In the end, the best instrument is the one that sounds good to you, fits your lifestyle, and makes you excited to learn and make music.

Written by Sydney Evans.