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  #1  
Old 06-07-2009, 07:11 PM
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Default Hardest instruments to play

I've heard, and I wanted to run this by everyone here, that, in order of difficulty, the hardest instruments to play are:
1. Violin, because all the notes are on a fairly small neck and the bowing aspect
2. Pedal Steel Guitar because in addition to the hands and feet, the knees are also employed
3. The drumset

I'd like to know if anyone knows what #4 and so on is
I'd also like to know if anyone can coorborate or refute this.
I can't tell you how much I love having all you good people to bounce stuff off of, it's like I have friends all over the world.
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Old 06-07-2009, 07:26 PM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

Oboes must be in there somewhere due to their double reed. Squeak!
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Old 06-07-2009, 07:29 PM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

I'll volunteer the theremin for its total lack of any visual reference points, infinitely adjustable 'scale length' and the fact that you have to hold your entire body totally still to maintain a constant pitch!
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Old 06-07-2009, 07:32 PM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

The Clarinet and Piccolo absolutely baffle me.

Bass guitar beyond a certain level is very difficult and I will justify that. Bass at a basic level is a relatively easy instrument - no drama there. But to break 'through the wall' and actually be a 'good' bass player is remarkably difficult. There are far fewer really, really good bass players (per ratio of players) than there are guitarists and I think there is a reason. It's very difficult to learn expression on an instrument that has its sole focus on the rhythm section of a band and playing the bass alone is not an inspiring experience, unlike the 'Cello or Violin. In order to really appreciate the bass guitar, you have to practice for hours and hours, getting your feel right and learning to interact with other musicians and as a result, practicing the bass is a very hard thing to do for long periods.

Bass is inherently a simple instrument, but it requires so much more dedication to practice.
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Old 06-07-2009, 07:37 PM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

Kazoo?

Actually, there may be harder instruments out there but the tabla drums seem extremely hard to master. I haven't actually tried though, so it might be no harder than a drumset starting from scratch.
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Old 06-07-2009, 07:38 PM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

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Originally Posted by jfaberha View Post
Kazoo?

Actually, there may be harder instruments out there but the tabla drums seem extremely hard to master. I haven't actually tried though, so it might be no harder than a drumset starting from scratch.
Tabla are absolutely bloody impossibly hard.
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  #7  
Old 06-07-2009, 07:44 PM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

I thought I heard at one time that the Bagpipes and Ulean(sp) pipes were difficult to learn.
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  #8  
Old 06-07-2009, 07:46 PM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

But is there a definitive list that is generally agreed upon that anyone knows of?
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Old 06-07-2009, 07:46 PM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

Pretty much ANY instrument is as hard as the player wants it to be. Any instrument is EASY if you're just fooling around with it. But every instrument if taken seriously will be a challenge to get to a high level of playing prowess with it.

Anyone can learn a few rudimentary things on an instrument, but can you PLAY it, like one of the MASTERS of the instrument??

That's why they're ALL difficult.

I can EASILY play electric bass on tons of 1980's Foreigner tunes, but can I play like Geddy Lee, or Jaco Pastorius?? HELL no!!!! The level of difficulty has gone UP!!

Get the point??
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Old 06-07-2009, 08:44 PM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

I think by the same token, they're all easy...if you know how.

Every instrument has different challenging aspects that are particular to that instrument alone.

For example, you might be able to play the violin, but that doesn't mean you can play the erhu, for example. which has no fingerboard, and only two strings, with the bow captive between them. It's played in an upright position. Yet its sound, and role in an orchestra or ensemble, is very similar to the violin.

Whichever one you are more familiar with is the easy one. I don't know if either one is necessarily harder.
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  #11  
Old 06-07-2009, 09:06 PM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

Order may be wrong...
sitar
harp
kora
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  #12  
Old 06-08-2009, 12:33 AM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

Hmmm........
Voice?
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  #13  
Old 06-08-2009, 12:46 AM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

Quote:
Originally Posted by tracer View Post
harp
Really? Why's that?

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Old 06-08-2009, 12:49 AM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

fretless bass/upright bass
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  #15  
Old 06-08-2009, 01:23 AM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

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Originally Posted by PQleyR View Post
Really? Why's that?

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If I look at a harpist, the level of co-ordination required to execute notes between the hands is just ridiculous. Advanced pianists cover it and harpists have the compounding problem of non-uniform string tension. A lack of ergonomics with the harp as well and the difficulty of accuracy. I can see why it would be difficult.

Last edited by Mediocrefunkybeat; 06-08-2009 at 01:41 AM.
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Old 06-08-2009, 01:39 AM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

Jazz trombone seems incredibly difficult to play well.
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  #17  
Old 06-08-2009, 01:40 AM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

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Originally Posted by Mediocrefunkybeat View Post
If I look at a harpist, the level of co-ordination required to execute notes between the hands is just ridiculous. Advanced Pianists cover it and harpists have the compounding problem of non-uniform string tension. A lack of ergonomics with the harp as well and the difficulty of accuracy. I can see why it would be difficult.

I once talked to a harp student at music university and had a chance to try it out. Believe me: its so incredibly difficult to play, you cannot even begin to understand how difficult if you haven't tryed it.

Of all instruments, harp would get my vote. No competition. Second would be Tabla.

But like someone else said: If you want to master an instrumet - they are all really the same. It takes thousands of hours of hard work, no matter which instrument you choose to play.
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  #18  
Old 06-08-2009, 02:15 AM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

Quote:
Originally Posted by what the funk of it View Post
Hmmm........
Voice?
id agree with u on this one. if you havnt got natural talent with singing, its sooo difficult to improve without costly training.

harps an interesting one too, doesnt look to complicated, but from what ive seen in bits and bobs when i did a bit of orchestral percussion, its a nightmare
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  #19  
Old 06-08-2009, 02:50 AM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

I've heard that harp is a hard one - lots of notes and when dealing with intervals greater than a step your reference point is thin air when you want to find that string, just as it is for tone deaf people trying to sing.

MFB, clarinet is not as hard as oboe - one reed vs two.

I've heard it said that violin, trumpet and drums are the worst instruments to buy your child ... screeeech! squeak! sqwark! bang! crash!
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  #20  
Old 06-08-2009, 02:58 AM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

Quote:
Originally Posted by larryace View Post
But is there a definitive list that is generally agreed upon that anyone knows of?
There is no definitive list, because it's different for different people. Certain people are pre-disposed to understanding certain things, or moving certain ways. For instance, the first time I sat behind a kit, I could play basic beats, with mild independence (meaning that I could play like a basic rock beat). But even after months of working it every day, mandolin just never came easily to me.

I would say that, even with that fact, there are instruments that are generally harder to play than others, but they are not the basic ones you are mentioning. The two that come immediately to mind are harp and sitar.
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  #21  
Old 06-08-2009, 03:45 AM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

pedal steel is pretty easy to play. the strings are usually tuned to an open chord and you basically just play bar chords. there is also a visual reference of were the notes are. you just use the pedals and the knees to change the tuning to fit a chord into the key or to play different chords (major, minor, diminished)


bagpipes are physically demanding to play but they only play one scale + one extra note.

what about a full pipe organ? you have to have 4 way independence plus control a bunch of pull stops and unlike drums you are actually playing different notes with your feet. obviously terry bozzio is doing alot of stuff with his feet but i doubt he has 32 notes like a pipe organ. the only thing easy about an organ is that they use the standard keyboard which is pretty easy to play.
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  #22  
Old 06-08-2009, 06:08 AM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

Hardest string instrument is the violin. Hardest wind instruments are the French horn, oboe and flute, because it takes an immense amount of practice just to be able to make a pleasing sound.

Hardest percussion instrument is the tabla drums of Indian classical music.

Sorry to say, but I don't think the drum set ranks very high on difficulty compared to other instruments. Also, a knowledge of scales, theory, etc. is essential to playing, where it is not on the drumset and non-melodic percussion.
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  #23  
Old 06-08-2009, 01:12 PM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mediocrefunkybeat View Post
If I look at a harpist, the level of co-ordination required to execute notes between the hands is just ridiculous. Advanced pianists cover it and harpists have the compounding problem of non-uniform string tension. A lack of ergonomics with the harp as well and the difficulty of accuracy. I can see why it would be difficult.
That's interesting. I'm surprised no-one's mentioned the pedals, to me that's the most difficult aspect of the concert harp (my sister is a harpist, among other things...you can see her in action here). You set the key signature with the pedals, so if you've got anything chromatic or a sudden key change, you have to move the pedals to the corresponding sharps and flats (one pedal for each note, with three positions). Not only that, but you have to try and do it quietly!
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Old 06-08-2009, 01:28 PM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

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Originally Posted by Deathmetalconga View Post
Hardest string instrument is the violin. Hardest wind instruments are the French horn, oboe and flute, because it takes an immense amount of practice just to be able to make a pleasing sound.

Hardest percussion instrument is the tabla drums of Indian classical music.
Violin, and tabla, yes.

Wind? dunno.. My 'windbags' tell me its the clarinet...something about the unique & highly complex arrangement of the keys and the fingering is insane.
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Old 06-08-2009, 02:25 PM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

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Originally Posted by PQleyR View Post
That's interesting. I'm surprised no-one's mentioned the pedals, to me that's the most difficult aspect of the concert harp (my sister is a harpist, among other things...you can see her in action here). You set the key signature with the pedals, so if you've got anything chromatic or a sudden key change, you have to move the pedals to the corresponding sharps and flats (one pedal for each note, with three positions). Not only that, but you have to try and do it quietly!
That's mostly what I was reffering to. I was too lazy to explain though, so thanks for that.

It really is insanely difficult. It also requires a very sensitve touch that's really hard to learn (if to learn at all).
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Old 06-08-2009, 04:46 PM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

Does anyone here think the drums are harder than the guitar?
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  #27  
Old 06-08-2009, 04:54 PM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

Quote:
Originally Posted by PQleyR View Post
That's interesting. I'm surprised no-one's mentioned the pedals, to me that's the most difficult aspect of the concert harp (my sister is a harpist, among other things...you can see her in action here). You set the key signature with the pedals, so if you've got anything chromatic or a sudden key change, you have to move the pedals to the corresponding sharps and flats (one pedal for each note, with three positions). Not only that, but you have to try and do it quietly!
thanks for sharing that vid..i really ejoyed it...i would actually vote that the sax is harder than the clairnet and that the piccilo is really hard if you have beefy fingers.
-george
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Old 06-08-2009, 05:05 PM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

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Does anyone here think the drums are harder than the guitar?
...yeah, why not.


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  #29  
Old 06-08-2009, 05:53 PM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

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what about a full pipe organ? you have to have 4 way independence plus control a bunch of pull stops and unlike drums you are actually playing different notes with your feet. obviously terry bozzio is doing alot of stuff with his feet but i doubt he has 32 notes like a pipe organ. the only thing easy about an organ is that they use the standard keyboard which is pretty easy to play.
that's what i was going to say! i'm absolutely amazed by anyone who can play that instrument. they've got multiple keyboards, stops, and complicated stuff going on with both hands and their feet. what they're doing with their feet i think is incredible, and they can't even see down there. they would probably laugh at how easy drums are!
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Old 06-08-2009, 07:14 PM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

tabla !
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Old 06-08-2009, 07:55 PM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

This is my 10th year on the kit.....
Don't know if drums are the hardest but it ain't been very easy....thats for sure!
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Old 06-10-2009, 05:43 PM
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Old 06-10-2009, 06:59 PM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

I think tabla scare a lot more people than they should. They are just as hard to master as anything else... Well maybe harder to "master", but under the right circumstances and guidance, you should be able to play the basic bols and accompinaments and some variations in an acceptable manner in a relatively short amount of time.

Advanced concepts of matras, tal, and variations on bols would confuse the heck out of anyone without a teacher. You need a teacher, and to some degree you need to understand the Hindi notation (I've been told) to truly understand the subtleties between notes that otherwise look identical when written in English. But for all intents and purposes, I think you can get away with the basics and sound halfway decent after a few months, to a year or so of practice.

It is a difficult and very precise type of percussion instrument. I'm on board with anyone else who thinks any instrument would be difficult to "master" (and I still detest that word as it relates to musicianship).
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Old 06-10-2009, 10:17 PM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

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Originally Posted by Garvin View Post
I think tabla scare a lot more people than they should. They are just as hard to master as anything else... Well maybe harder to "master", but under the right circumstances and guidance, you should be able to play the basic bols and accompinaments and some variations in an acceptable manner in a relatively short amount of time.

Advanced concepts of matras, tal, and variations on bols would confuse the heck out of anyone without a teacher. You need a teacher, and to some degree you need to understand the Hindi notation (I've been told) to truly understand the subtleties between notes that otherwise look identical when written in English. But for all intents and purposes, I think you can get away with the basics and sound halfway decent after a few months, to a year or so of practice.

It is a difficult and very precise type of percussion instrument. I'm on board with anyone else who thinks any instrument would be difficult to "master" (and I still detest that word as it relates to musicianship).
a "western" drumset is the most easiest instrument to learn: any kid can watch the drummer and imitate it in a minute, most basically crossing hands and play right hand on the highhat, left hand on the snare...
Tabla is something very different, I think it is is about understanding Rhythm in terms of communication and language. also Tabla is of extremely low volume..this does no impress any western drumming Kid at all.....I think tabla is the most easiest percussion instrument to play, once you are from south India, but hardest to learn if you are not....I wish I coud not only take tabla lessons but first learn the "Dah dih na" language...but I am too old for this.....Only thing I can do this far is the Chuck Berry Duck Walk, which, beeing a dummer, does not help me much.

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Old 06-10-2009, 11:22 PM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

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Originally Posted by larryace View Post
I've heard, and I wanted to run this by everyone here, that, in order of difficulty, the hardest instruments to play are:
1. Violin, because all the notes are on a fairly small neck and the bowing aspect
2. Pedal Steel Guitar because in addition to the hands and feet, the knees are also employed
3. The drumset

I'd like to know if anyone knows what #4 and so on is
I'd also like to know if anyone can coorborate or refute this.
I can't tell you how much I love having all you good people to bounce stuff off of, it's like I have friends all over the world.
Thanks,
Larry
I don't think drumset is the hardest instrument to play unless you don't have God given talent. Violen and guitar definetly and I would say anything thats a brass or wind instrument!!!
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Old 06-10-2009, 11:29 PM
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I can't tell you how much I love having all you good people to bounce stuff off of, it's like I have friends all over the world.
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Old 06-11-2009, 01:56 AM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

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Originally Posted by beastdrummagirl View Post
I don't think drumset is the hardest instrument to play unless you don't have God given talent. Violen and guitar definetly and I would say anything thats a brass or wind instrument!!!
Im sorry, but what are you talking about? Drumset is incredibly difficult to learn how to play well, no matter what "god given talent" you possess. Honestly, saxophone is not anywhere near the hardest instrument to simply play, but the easier and instrument plays the higher the standards for playing it are. There is no one level that people get to that they can be considered a master, and it doesnt transcend every instrument.
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Old 06-11-2009, 03:11 AM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

Quote:
Originally Posted by Garvin View Post
I think tabla scare a lot more people than they should. They are just as hard to master as anything else... Well maybe harder to "master", but under the right circumstances and guidance, you should be able to play the basic bols and accompinaments and some variations in an acceptable manner in a relatively short amount of time.

Advanced concepts of matras, tal, and variations on bols would confuse the heck out of anyone without a teacher. You need a teacher, and to some degree you need to understand the Hindi notation (I've been told) to truly understand the subtleties between notes that otherwise look identical when written in English. But for all intents and purposes, I think you can get away with the basics and sound halfway decent after a few months, to a year or so of practice.

It is a difficult and very precise type of percussion instrument. I'm on board with anyone else who thinks any instrument would be difficult to "master" (and I still detest that word as it relates to musicianship).
When I was at secondary school a few years ago we had a student in the Sixth Form who was an absolutely stunning tabla player. One of the best in the Country - and I mean that sincerely and seriously and that was based on what I had heard from various Indian Musicians he had played with. He even ran a tabla club (which I unfortunately, could not attend due to a hectic schedule) and he taught students very well. The best student was good; but the gulf was still vast. I wish I had been able to take lessons.
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Old 06-11-2009, 05:17 AM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

Quote:
Originally Posted by PQleyR View Post
That's interesting. I'm surprised no-one's mentioned the pedals, to me that's the most difficult aspect of the concert harp (my sister is a harpist, among other things...you can see her in action here). You set the key signature with the pedals, so if you've got anything chromatic or a sudden key change, you have to move the pedals to the corresponding sharps and flats (one pedal for each note, with three positions). Not only that, but you have to try and do it quietly!
WOW!! Tell Amy she's a damned good musician, and none too hard on the eyes as well. ;-)
I saw the keyboard stuff in the other vid, L0L!! Pretty cool!!!
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Old 06-11-2009, 06:07 AM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

i have heard that the accordion is extremely difficult to play.
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