10 Hardest Musical Instruments to Learn

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Learning a musical instrument can be one of the most rewarding things you take. No matter what instrument you choose, there are always challenging parts to master any instrument.

10. Trumpet

Like the violin and French horn, you have limited guidance from the instrument to hit notes accurately. You have three valve keys that let you play notes within an octave, but to change octaves or offer a wider range of pitches, trumpeters must master playing with their lips. Even starting to play on the trumpet takes a while. Most beginners blow air while struggling to get any sound out of their trumpet.


9. Guitar

A popular instrument in its own right due to its use in alternative, rock, country, and other music, the guitar is a relatively easy instrument to learn, but a hard instrument to master. Many young guitarists pick up the guitar because their favorite musicians in rock bands play guitar.

Related: 20 Best Guitarists of All Time

The frets make it easy to play notes accurately (unlike the violin), but mastering the chords, rhythm, timing, and skilled playing can take years. Chords in particular present a challenge to new players who may be used to playing solo notes on other instruments. There’s a reason most bands start in garages with many hours of practice.

Classics like ‘Hey There Delilah’ or ‘Seven Nation Army’ are melodies that are very simple and can be played within an hour of practice. However, advanced pieces like ‘Stairway to Heaven’ or ‘Enter Sandman’ can take years and decades to be able to play.


8. Drums

Drums can be easy or hard to learn depending on what you’re looking to play. If all you want to learn is a simple beat for a garage band, they’re not difficult to master. However, if you want to become a solo drummer. Rock and punk tend to have easier beats (and are thus easier to learn) than jazz, so we recommend beginner drummers begin with rock or punk to master different tempos.

Related: 10 Most Famous Drummers of All Time

To learn drums, you should be ambidextrous and have good coordination. Hitting notes at the right time in the right place on the drum with your hands while simultaneously keeping different beats with your feet can be quite difficult.

You can spend decades learning drums (and different types including bass drum, snare drum, etc.) and never be an elite drummer. But you will make any band happy!

Drum Set

7. Oboe

Oboe is not a beginner’s instrument. Most people who start playing the oboe start on a different instrument first. The most challenging part about playing the oboe is to have correct embouchure, which requires skillful flipping and controlled airflow. Hopefully, this means that if you decide to start playing oboe then you are more likely to keep playing for a while.

That way you can invest in a well-made oboe and not feel like you are wasting money. The oboe can be extremely difficult because of its often counterintuitive technique, issues with reeds, and the lack of experienced teachers and materials for the instrument.

It requires a lot of restrained breathing, mastery of a double reed, and difficult passages.


6. Bassoon

Bassoons are notoriously tricky to play due to their double reed and size. Woodwind instruments are notoriously hard to play, but the bassoon is on another level. It’s hard to find a competent bassoon player who hasn’t given up and started playing the oboe.

The height of bassoons usually requires someone with height or extreme dexterity in order to navigate the up to 28 keys. The double reed requires the dexterity of the tongue and lips, something that already requires years of practice. It’s safe to say that the bassoon is not usually someone’s first instrument.

Bassoon - Hard Musical Instrument

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  1. I submit that you should include the pedal steel guitar in the hardest instruments to learn to play category.
    Check it out!!


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