The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #60036   Message #959541
Posted By: JohnInKansas
26-May-03 - 11:03 PM
Thread Name: Learning First Instrument
Subject: RE: Learning First Instrument
If you're a true beginner on an instrument, it probably won't do you much good to try to "play a lot of tunes," since as long as you're making mistakes you'd just be practicing the mistakes.

You need to concentrate, at first, on playing a few tunes carefully, and on getting them right. (Your first few "tunes" should include at least a few scales, chords, flamdiddles, or whatever musical structures are appropriate to the secret instrument.)

When you're comfortable playing a few tunes, you will naturally want to try a few more tunes. Before you start worrying about "playing a lot of tunes," you need to be familiar enough with the instrument to be "comfortably able" to play a new tune similar to ones you've practiced - at first sight - without a lot of mistakes; and you should be able to recognize and correct the mistakes without a great deal of agonizing over them.

Ideally, you would have a "teacher" who plays and knows your secret instrument, but any good music teacher should be able to help you with anything but the most arcane and bizarre instruments. (Note that not all good players are good teachers, and I've known a rare few good teachers - for beginners, at least - who could hardly play at all.) The requirements for learning most instruments are pretty much the same, and you are the one learning the instrument, so the teacher doesn't really have to.

There are a few instruments that rely on "un-obvious" techniques; and if yours is one of them, you will eventually need someone who knows your particular instrument. You should be able, though, to get past "fighting with your instrument" and to the point of "playing with it" for most instruments without too much need for such esoterica.

The only real concern with "going it alone" is that many instruments can hurt you - especially if you're really "doing it the hard way," i.e. wrong. Short, and frequent, engagements with the beast are usually more productive - and less likely to injure you - than long encounters. If you feel pain that doesn't have an obvious cause, get someone knowledgeable about your instrument to help you find what you've done wrong.

And have fun.