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Thread: Advice for a complete novice

  1. #1
    Newbies zambrotta11's Avatar
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    Red face Advice for a complete novice

    Hello Everyone,

    I have recently became interested in classical music and I have decided that I would like to be able to play an instrument. I haven't got any sort of a musical background at all except for the three years at school where you are forced to play the tin whistle (which I did not enjoy at all!)

    Since I have no family or friends who are musical and can advise me on this matter, I was wondering could you help me by suggesting which instrument would be the best for a complete beginner, like myself, to learn? I have sort of narrowed down the list of instruments to either the violin, viola, cello or the piano.

    All and any help will be greatly appreciated.

    Best Regards,
    Stephen

    p.s.
    17 isn't too old to begin learning how to play an instrument, is it?

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    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    Hi Stephen,

    Welcome to Talk Classical.

    IMHO, one is never too old to begin learning an instrument. My last student was in her 60's when she started organ lessons with me - of course, she had a long background of piano before that.

    Being a keyboard person, I absolutely love the piano and the organ - for someone, like yourself, the piano may be a delightful instrument to take up and learn. Lots of wonderful music has been written for the piano. Just my 5 cents worth, anyway.
    Kh
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    Member kiwipolish's Avatar
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    At that age, you will usually be advised to learn an instrument like the bassoon or trombone. I think 17 y.o. is too old to start playing the violin.

    It is good to learn how to play, but the real question to ask yourself is: "Do I actually need to play an instrument in order to enjoy the music?" - My personal answer to that question, when I had your age and a similar question, was "No." I play the CD player, and that does make me happy. You must realise that perceiving the music and making the music are 2 totally different activities.

    If you have an interest in music, then great; cultivate it, learn more about music, listen to more music, read composers' biographies, and maybe study musicology at university when you leave school (that is usually accessible to non-musicians).

    In all cases, talk to a music teacher.

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    Senior Member World Violist's Avatar
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    I think the piano would be very good; it teaches the student a lot about counterpoint and to listen for multiple voices at once - a very valuable skill to have as a musician.
    You get a frog in your throat, you sound hoarse.

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    Senior Member Frasier's Avatar
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    Agree about piano.

    It would be an excellent grounding in anything musical: you'll learn both treble and bass staves; you'll be able to SEE chord layouts under your hands - so if you did want to try for some theory later you'd be able to manage it easier than if you'd learned just a melody instrument. And of course, it you later decide to take up a melody instrument you'll already be able to read the music on its stave (with a couple of exceptions but don't let that worry you now!)

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    Newbies zambrotta11's Avatar
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    Thank you for the welcome to the forum and thanks for all the helpful replies.

    kiwipolish,
    Thank you for your suggestions but I am certain that I would like to play an instrument.

    I think you are all right, the piano would be the best instrument to begin with. It seems it would be the perfect foundation to begin building my musical knowledge.

    May I ask another question?

    I know it may sound stupid but since at the moment I do not have the money to affort a piano would a cheap electronic keyboard be fine for practicing on when I am at home or would an actual piano be needed?

    Regards,
    Stephen

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    Senior Member Frasier's Avatar
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    An electronic piano would be fine to make a start but check that it is touch-sensitive and has (piano-like) weighted keys. Some extremely cheap instruments have very light keys (again, that's fine at the very outset but they do tend to rattle a bit and it'll make transition to an acoustic piano more difficult later). Touch sensitivity: the harder you strike the keys, the louder the sound - that's a must, really

    (edit: but if it's a choice between a cheap instrument having light keys and no sensitivity, or no instrument at all - take the cheap instrument. There's a slight problem: it won't sound very like a piano so you won't be able to judge progress so easily - but at least you won't have spent too much money on it).

    Otherwise, try for an 88-note keyboard if you can;
    look out for the "polyphony" rating - this is the number of notes that can sound at the same time, including those sustained by the pedal. 64 is really the minimum - you could get away with 32 as a beginner but you'll probably find the need for more once you get playing both hands together and use the pedal.

    And check that a sustaining pedal is available (hopefully comes with the instrument). Many have 2 or even 3 pedals but they're more pricey.

    Most have a headphone socket and the phones usually give a better sound than the small speakers in a portable instrument, if the instrument has them. The speakers in non-portables are usually reasonable. But phones are a great advantage over acoustic pianos - you can practice when you like without disturbing the neighbours.

    Look up: Yamaha (pricey but good), Roland, Casio. You'll see various different features like integral recorders and midi, and selections of other instrumental sounds and rhythm boxes (manufacturers feel obliged to include these as standard and good, they can be fun)!
    Last edited by Frasier; Jul-06-2008 at 23:28.

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    Newbies zambrotta11's Avatar
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    Thank you very much for your help Fraiser. It is greatly appreciated.

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    An electronic piano would be fine to make a start but check that it is touch-sensitive and has (piano-like) weighted keys. Some extremely cheap instruments have very light keys (again, that's fine at the very outset but they do tend to rattle a bit and it'll make transition to an acoustic piano more difficult later). Touch sensitivity: the harder you strike the keys, the louder the sound - that's a must, really
    You can buy a cheap upright for the same price as most 'good' electric pianos.

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    Senior Member Frasier's Avatar
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    I reckon I'd find greater pleasure playing a halfway good electronic piano than a cheap acoustic upright with all its likely problems - that's before we get to the woodworm and re-felting the hammers and so on.

  11. #11
    Andante
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    zambrotta11 To enjoy music by listening is all a lot of people can do, but nothing can compare to the pleasure of actually making music, and if you can join with others and make music, well, it don't get much better so get stuck in

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    Newbies zambrotta11's Avatar
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    Thank you everyone for all your help and support.
    I can't wait to begin!

    Regards,
    Stephen

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