Robert Estrin - piano expert

What is the "Easiest" Musical Instrument to Learn?

Several "instruments," including the voice, can be one of those

In this video, Robert discusses some of the instruments that may be "easiest" to learn. Piano is among them, but what else? Which one may be the easiest?

Released on January 4, 2017

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Hi, and welcome to and I'm Robert Estrin.

Today's question is a really loaded one. What is the easiest instrument to learn how to play? There's a lot to this question and there are many different levels of difficulty that we might assume. And let's get it right here.

First of all, there are different aspects of what is easy. I've often said that, in some ways, in basic tone production, the piano is the easiest instrument of all. You simply push a key and you get a tone. Even a young child can do it and get a satisfactory sound out of the piano. Try that in an oboe or a flute. It could be hard, even in the course of an entire lesson, even getting a sound out of an instrument like that.

So what is the easiest instrument? I'm tempted to say kazoo. But being serious for a moment, the human voice, we all sing, so maybe that's the easiest instrument. However, if you've ever heard a great singer and then listen to yourself, you know there is a real distinction in the quality of sound.

So the question is twofold. What's the easiest instrument to approach? What's the easiest instrument to master? And, sadly, there are no easy instruments to master. They all require tremendous amounts of work. I will say this, however. I majored in both piano and French horn in conservatory, and some instruments require more practice than other instruments. In fact, there are some instruments that you can't practice as much as other instruments. For example, the voice, getting back to the human voice. Now, there's a tremendous study of scores and the study of languages and accents, and many aspects that go into the study of voice, however, no one's gonna practice singing for eight hours, whereas some violinists or pianists, indeed, will practice six, eight hours a day preparing for competitions. A brass instrument, it's pretty tough to practice six hours in a day. Maybe with rehearsals, if you're very gentle in your warm-up and careful, you might be able to do six hours, but really, a four- or five-hour day is a heck of a lot to blow a horn or a trumpet.

So, some instruments require longer practice or you can practice longer. Piano, because the immense repertoire and all the complexity, the score requires a lot of practice, so the string instruments oftentimes, but the truth be known, no instrument is easy to master and some people have an affinity more for one instrument or another. The instrument that you love is the one that you're going to be drawn to and will be easiest for you to master.

Thanks so much for the great questions. Again, Robert Estrin at and
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Laurel N Gibson * VSM MEMBER * on January 16, 2019 @8:20 am PST
Dear Mr. Estrin,

May I quote your last statement in my Newsletter? The instrument that you love is the one that you're going to be drawn to and will be easiest for you to master. I like to teach several instrument to my students. I certainly "push" piano, but it would include harp, harpsichord, celesta, and the organ. Some students come to me for guitar. I take the little ones to the ukulele for a gentler introduction. Many come to me with no clue, just for research. I got a banjo student that way at Christmas. I try to let them feel what it's like to play each instrument a little, and then choose....May I use your name as the reference? Thank you!
Robert - host, on January 18, 2019 @2:53 pm PST
You are welcome to share any and all of my videos and articles (as long as you provide credit). Here is a searchable database of thousands of videos and articles for you:
Dr. Don Thomas * VSM MEMBER * on January 23, 2017 @3:11 pm PST
I don't fully agree. I play piano in a Big band. When the Band Manager presents a new song during the rehearsal, the pianist unless he is an excellent 1st Class sight reader has only a few mins to scan through the copy sometimes 6 pages where each bar may contain 5-6 notes per beat too read with both hands and play.
By comparison, the brass section only plays single notes, often with 4bar rest breaks whilst the pianist, being in the rhythm section, continues to play.
Robert Estrin - host, on January 23, 2017 @4:34 pm PST
As I mentioned, the sheer complexity of piano music makes it hard. But basic tone production is much easier than on wind instruments. More than that, if you listen to just one note played on a flute, trumpet, oboe or even violin, you can tell instantly the level of the player - not so with piano. If only the music weren't so tough!
Fulvia * VSM MEMBER * on January 4, 2017 @5:23 pm PST
When I was a teenager, someone lent me a guitar. No problem being able to learn cords on my own to accompany my voice. Of course I imagine learning to play classical guitar at professional level would be a different story. I did the same later on with the accordion, I found it much easier than the piano, and very suitable for my smaller hands 1 mm less for each key.
Robert Estrin - host, on January 6, 2017 @12:21 pm PST
You are right. Gaining some proficiency on an instrument is quite different from mastering an instrument. Some may find one instrument or another more compatible. I have known people who naturally were able to gain a surprising level of playing on the piano after a short period of time with no training.

Some instruments lend themselves to casual playing more than others. I would be surprised if someone could pick up an oboe and sound decent in a few months with no training. But I have encountered many people who have done so on the piano and guitar.
Jjk on January 4, 2017 @5:54 am PST
Once again, a thorough and thoughtful answer. Thank you.


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