There are plenty of myths about learning instruments; from gender differences in interest and abilities, to the suggestion that you’d have to have started as a child to really master an instrument. Neither are true. You can learn any instrument at any age. The limiting factor is usually your motivation to stick with it. Even if you want to learn a complicated instrument eventually, it’s always the easiest to build on a solid musical foundation. You can start with any of these easy to learn instruments and keep going from there.
While the ukulele is closely related to a guitar, it has some factors that make it even easier to learn. For one, it is very inexpensive to buy and easy to handle. Instead of the guitar’s 6 strings, you are reduced to 4 strings, which offer a smaller range of chords you’d have to learn, while still teaching you knowledge you could use if you’d ever decide to upgrade to a full-fledged guitar chord.
The guitar is a step-up to a ukulele. With its six strings and many different builds, it offers much more variation than a simple ukulele. As a beginner, you can easily choose simple basics to learn before you ever start to play the complicated pieces. Guitars are popular. You will have no problem finding teachers or materials like guitar chords and lessons online.
The banjo is an in-between of the guitar and the ukulele, if you look at the string count. Naturally, the banjo is famous for its fast and complicated solos that accompany many country and bluegrass tunes. But the same rules apply as to the ukulele: you can use the banjo to learn the basics of simple chords and finger movements.
The harmonica is a portable and easy to use favorite for blues or jazz lovers. You can easily carry it around anywhere and start experimenting the range of tunes you can create with nothing but your breath, fingers and the tiny blues harp.
Just like the ukulele is a simpler version of a guitar, you could describe bongos as a simplified drum or percussion kit. They are best used to build a feeling for rhythm, a skill that can be applied to every musical endeavor you would move on to later on.
The piano might seem complicated, and of course there are plenty of tricky piano pieces out there. But still, the piano is one of the most popular starter instrument for young children (check out this 7-year-old piano prodigy). It is often used as the first instrument to learn because it is a great way to learn the foundation of just about any other instrument. It has a strong focus on learning how to read sheet music and training your hand-eye-coordination.
A drum kit is a step-up to a set of bongos, but that does not mean it’s necessarily harder to master. The range of sounds is much clearer separated in a drum kit, while a bongo asks for more finesse when it comes to creating different sounds on the restricted area. The biggest challenge of playing the drums is developing a controlled independence of your limbs and a certain stamina. Other than that, the basics of percussion instruments are fun and non-challenging to learn.
The recorder is another famous starter instrument for children. It’s a simple instrument you control with nothing but your breath and small finger movements. It teaches you basic music theory and rhythm, which once again are skills that can be built up on later on.
There are many instruments that can be used to play masterful and complicated pieces. Some of them are harder to learn than others. If you look at the list above, you find instruments that can be used to play amazing tunes but are equally able to play very simple pieces that help you learn basic music skills. You can gain an understanding for rhythm and sheet music and the techniques required for playing instruments.
Being simple to learn in the beginning, these instruments make it easier to stay motivated and keep up the good work till you’ll finally be able to play the stuff you were aiming for in the first place.