Learning a new music instrument as an adult is a much different experience than learning as a child, but it doesn't have to be harder. The process of getting started and easing yourself into playing and practice habits can sometimes be a challenge, so here are three tips for having the best possible experience with your new instrument.
Rent, Don't Buy
If you suddenly feel the urge to pick up an instrument, you may be tempted to buy the instrument of your choice outright so you can get to practicing as soon as possible. There are a few reasons why you might want to hold back on a big purchase right away. A quality instrument could set you back a few hundred dollars at least, which may not include accessories, lessons, music books, and other useful tools. The urge to play an instrument can be fleeting, or you may discover that the instrument you really want to try doesn't end up working out for you. Because of this, it's helpful to start by renting an instrument to see if the instrument you like will work for you and if it's something you want to stick with.
Most instruments can be rented from a music store, and are paid for monthly rather than a large sum up front. Not only is there no large purchase involved, but you can return the instrument if you decide you no longer want to play it even if it's only been one month. If you go through a music store, it will be easier to switch to trying another instrument, if you'd like, and you may also be able to talk to instructors and other musicians who can help you choose the right instrument.
Book Some Lessons
With your own instrument in hand, teaching yourself to play is a tempting option. However, if you are able, there are several reasons why hiring a music teacher is an effective way to start out playing a new instrument.
To start, it helps to develop proper habits early on. For example, if you want to play the violin, there is a certain way you need to hold your bow in one hand and place your other hand around the neck. If you're learning piano, you'll need to learn proper finger placement on your keys. Starting out with lessons is helpful because it's much easier to learn the right techniques as you begin rather than having to unlearn improper habits down the line.
Lessons also have the benefit of structure; not only will it help to have lessons at the same time every week, but lesson plans are also created with care and can be tailored to your specific needs by someone with much more experience.
Finally, learning techniques in person can be much more effective than trying to learn them from a tutorial. Online videos and tutorials can work well as supplementary material, but having in-person guidance can help demonstrably, especially as you get into more difficult music.
Set Up Your Practice Space
Learning an instrument requires dedication and practice, and this can be harder than it sounds depending on your schedule, your living situation, or other factors. For example, the idea of practicing a loud instrument at home can be nerve-racking if you are self-conscious or anxious.
First, depending on your instrument, you may be able to buy a practice mute or silencing accessory. This doesn't literally make your instrument silent, but it does make it better for practicing inside and changes the quality of the sound depending on your needs. Alternatively, if you have the ability to purchase an electric equivalent of your instrument, you can plug in your headphones and practice while making music only you can hear. You can also consider buying noise-dampening foam to hang on your walls; this absorbs much of the sound you make, letting less of it through walls and doors.
Next, keep to a consistent schedule. This helps your discipline and gets you into a routine, and if you're worried about bothering your neighbors, the consistency also helps them learn what to expect. If you're still worried, talk to them and explain your situation. You may be able to coordinate times that work best for everyone.
Another option, if you have the time and money available, is to buy out a local practice room for your sessions. A small room for a single occupant shouldn't break your bank and can give you a place to practice that's meant for instruments. Search for local practice rooms or reach out to local colleges and universities to see if they have any suggestions.