What's the most difficult instrument you've ever tried to learn or play?

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
What's the most difficult instrument you've ever tried to learn or play? Has it been drums or something else?
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
Drumming the easiest to pick up but the hardest to really get anywhere. I took piano lessons and can still tinker a bit, I played sax pretty well, I tried bass and was picking it up and progressing, but was always curious of harp and violin-both look extremely difficult to me. It's a lot easier to bang on a drum to get a fundamental sound than a saxophone but a heck of lot harder to pull all the limbs and strike un-noted instruments and cajole something musical and useful from them. Playing piano and sax are fundamentally easier to understand-while drumming has lots of variance
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
They are all difficult to me in different ways that can't be compared.

Wind instruments are Greek to me.
 

beatdat

Senior Member
Drumming the easiest to pick up but the hardest to really get anywhere.
This interesting. Do you mind taking a minute to explain what you mean here?
I get exactly what GetAgrippa is saying, and it's something I've being saying for years.

I think most people with a bit of musical ability could sit down and learn the "money beat" in short order. With a bit of work, they could play it consistently for the duration of a song. But, to play it (and other grooves) consistently song after song, set after set, and night after night without error truly takes a lot of control, which only comes from years of practice. Add in fills, limb dynamics, etc. and you begin to understand just how daunting the instrument can be. I know for me, even learning basic fills going from one tom to another took time - I think it has something to do with the distance between each part of the set and having to compensate the speed of each stroke to make each of them feel good regardless of the tempo. On top of that, there's added pressure on the drummer to keep things consistent; most instruments can to some degree get away with a mistake here and there, but not the drums - for some reason, our mistakes are more obvious and glaring to the listener.


Growing up, I studied classical piano. I took formal lessons from age 6-16. I started percussion in middle school. In high school I played the tuba in first year because everyone had to learn one of the instruments in the orchestra - there was no percussion or drums in first year. So, I had some fluency in the piano by then, and, maybe because of that, picked up the tuba fairly easily.

In my late 20s, when I was dabbling in some songwriting, I pick up an acoustic guitar. Man, that was a PITA! Not only was there no rhyme or reason to determine one chord or another (unlike the piano, where transposing was simply a matter of moving up or down the keyboard a certain number of key), the contortions I had to put my hand through were completely frustrating and unorthodox. After a couple of years, and a few songs, I gave my guitar to my bass player and never looked back.

So, for me, it was the guitar. I don't get, never will, and will never try to again.

Then again, I also appreciate how difficult it can be to get a sound out of wood and brass instruments. And I've always been under the impression that learning the first stroke of a string instrument takes some getting used to as well.
 

dmacc_2

Well-known member
I've been studying clarinet and sax seriously for 5 years.

It's been too long to remember that far back but I tend to think after 5 years of time, I was a better drummer than a woodwind player.

For me, by far, clarinet is the most challenging. However, it is the woodwind I've come the farthest on. Probably because that's the instrument I give most time to.
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
I know for me, even learning basic fills going from one tom to another took time - I think it has something to do with the distance between each part of the set and having to compensate the speed of each stroke to make each of them feel good regardless of the tempo.
Gah, I just remembered hitting rims all the time. Geez, how did I ever learn??? I must have had way more patience back then. I'd try to do a roll, an I swear it was 75% rims for a month. Thanks for your explanation!
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
Thanks Beatdat you summed it up pretty well! I'd just add. Yes when I started at 8 years of age-all I had was an ear and go. So no training just picked it up-like many did with all instruments during the garage band era. So it took some time for me to realize the intricacies of the instrument I was playing. Because I didn't really have to work at it initially like I did with piano lessons and playing sax in band-so I was following an easy path and no growth. I even taught lessons to one younger kid when I got a little older which forced me to buy some drum books to teach from-I was learning rudiments with him basically LOL. You can play with amazing chops or speedy blast beats or blinding jazz ride and if it isn't tasteful it still sounds like crap-you can learn technique and cool fills and what not but that doesn't translate you can use what you learned in tasteful musical ways. I think you play tastefully BTW PorkPie. I don't know if you can teach that? Maybe guide someone and help them find it? I need a teacher.
 
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beatdat

Senior Member
Gah, I just remembered hitting rims all the time. Geez, how did I ever learn??? I must have had way more patience back then. I'd try to do a roll, an I swear it was 75% rims for a month. Thanks for your explanation!
Even if you were hitting the rims "in time" you were still further ahead than most people learning to play the drums.

I think you play tastefully BTW PorkPie. I don't know if you can teach that? Maybe guide someone and help them find it? I need a teacher.
My mentor, teacher and friend has always said: "I can teach you anything on the drums, but I can't teach you feel or taste, I can only show that to you".

Feel and taste are up to the student to develop should they want to learn it.
 

acsunda

Junior Member
I'm a big bluegrass fan, and I bought a fiddle once with a mind to learn to play it. That lasted like a day before I was like "yeah, no." Sold it to buy a mandolin. Can barely play it but at least I can understand the concept of how it's played, lol.

This interesting. Do you mind taking a minute to explain what you mean here?
I totally get this. The basics aren't really tough, it's mostly just coordination and keeping time. But to be really great, you have to know and practice your rudiments and the really technical aspects of drumming, which of course I was too lazy to ever do.
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
I have no trouble getting a good sound out of any instrument on the first try. It’s an inborn ability for me, it just happens. MY problem is enjoying an instrument enough to put in the time to get better at it. I’ve had trouble sticking to one area of percussion ever since 6th grade. First I was into mallets, then snare drum, then timpani. Now it’s drumset, although timpani is probably my favorite. There’s just not a lot of timpani gigs, pro or semi-pro, and the unpaid ones are usually with people who aren’t good enough to make me want to play with them.
 
In my late 20s, when I was dabbling in some songwriting, I pick up an acoustic guitar. Man, that was a PITA! Not only was there no rhyme or reason to determine one chord or another (unlike the piano, where transposing was simply a matter of moving up or down the keyboard a certain number of key), the contortions I had to put my hand through were completely frustrating and unorthodox. After a couple of years, and a few songs, I gave my guitar to my bass player and never looked back.
I had a similar experience when I tried to learn acoustic guitar. Several years later, a former band member lived with me for a year, and I tried to play his electric guitar (not plugged into an amp) and couldn't believe how much easier it was than an acoustic.
 

rhumbagirl

Senior Member
I've only attempted piano and guitar, the latter is similar to beatdat's experience - contorted fingers on strings seems too much. I've kept the piano but haven't had time to really learn it. I think at some point, especially when you get upper in age, you realize you want to be good at one thing and not mediocre on several things. At least that's the way it is with me.

EDIT: I got to hold a alto sax at a jazz fest a couple of years ago... that was scary. All the linkages and buttons, I quickly set it down. Wait I couldn't figure out how to let go of it gently either. I didn't even get to blow the thing.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
I had a similar experience when I tried to learn acoustic guitar. Several years later, a former band member lived with me for a year, and I tried to play his electric guitar (not plugged into an amp) and couldn't believe how much easier it was than an acoustic.
agreed...my niece wanted to start learning guitar, and right away I was like :" get her an electric to start on"...way more friendly to small hands and bodies. I know from first hand experience...
 

rhumbagirl

Senior Member
rhumbagirl said:
I didn't even get to blow the thing.
Ahem,
.
.
.
...that's how things get taken out of context.
That's the beauty of the horn section in a band. What better way to get through a stiff rehearsal with a little humor? Isn't part of the experience for many here, writing down our thoughts AS THEY ARRIVE? Being drummers, some of these things just come to us by the rhythm and melody of ... words.
 

rhumbagirl

Senior Member
rhumbagirl said:
That's the beauty of the horn section in a band. What better way to get through a stiff rehearsal with a little humor?
You little devil, you.

I see what you did there.
Completely coincidence, promise! Again though... words. "Stiff rehearsal" just came to me. I didn't try to analyze it and figure out why. I just ran with it and maybe I'll figure it out later. You happened to figure it out before I did.

No devil here LOL
 
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