Can you teach yourself a musical instrument?

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It is easy to access the tools and resources needed to learn a new instrument. But is it possible to master a musical instrument by learning yourself?

Getting your hands on a musical instrument, be it a guitar or a bagpipe, is only the first step; the tricky part is learning to play the thing. Is there a vital need to take lessons to learn to play a musical instrument?

Generally speaking, yes, it is quite possible for someone to learn an instrument and be able to play it well. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. However, learning a musical instrument improves your mood and improves your mental health, increasing self-esteem, with instrument-dependent benefits like improving your breathing control and multitasking skills.

Everyone learns in different ways, and you never know until you try.


Why would you want to learn a musical instrument on your own? it looks hard

Not everyone wants a teacher to lead them and dictate the direction of their learning journey. Many people find that they thrive when they are not judged by someone else. Learning a musical instrument on your own also means saving money on music lessons.

Maybe you are just looking for a new project or looking to challenge yourself. You never know what natural talent can emerge once you pick up an instrument.


Do you really want to teach yourself music? It’s time to get organized

Research is the first step in teaching yourself a musical instrument. Start by listening to famous music featuring the instrument of your choice, familiarize yourself with the sound it produces and the different musical genres associated with it.

When it comes to teaching itself, you know your own learning process better than anyone. Suppose you’ve been given a violin – are you content with mastering a few well-known folk songs, or do you prefer to take a course to learn techniques that will give you the basics of playing a whole range of music? Thinking about what you want to get out of the process and setting goals for yourself will help streamline your learning, saving you time.

There are YouTube tutorials for the more obscure instruments, and you can’t go wrong teaching yourself from an educational music book. An essential step in learning an instrument on your own is to establish a routine from the start of daily practice.


Is it worth it?

There are unique challenges in teaching yourself an instrument. Some instruments are arguably easier to learn than others – if you have no knowledge of music or music theory, a simpler instrument like the piano may be a better starting point than an instrument like the cello. That said, many determined learners are looking for a more difficult challenge.

Learning an instrument on your own comes with the danger of learning bad habits, which a keen-eyed tutor would normally spot before they take hold – things like breathing techniques and hand positioning. There is nothing like being mentored by a talented music teacher with a musical life experience to draw on, eager to introduce you to their own unique way of playing an instrument.

Ask yourself if you need the structure of music lessons to motivate you to keep learning. Some people find that they need the motivation to be watched week after week, hungry for that sense of competition that prompts them to keep training and not let their teacher down. If you find that you are struggling to motivate yourself, consider documenting your progress on social media, perhaps challenging yourself to take responsibility.


The sense of pride and accomplishment that comes with learning a musical instrument is hard to beat. You know you got there through your own hard work and that you are in total control of your own destiny. Everyone learns in different ways, and you can always take a few lessons later if you’re struggling to learn advanced techniques on your own.

With all the online resources available, as long as you are in possession of an instrument, there is nothing stopping you from learning how to play it yourself.


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