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Should I Learn Piano or Violin?

Can't decide whether to learn piano or violin

Which is harder to learn, piano or Violin? I need to choose an instrument for my school music program and can't decide. I've never played any music before.

Dear Jacob

Choosing your instrument is a very personal thing. Some people love to play brass instruments (like trumpet or trombone) while others are drawn to the piano or a wind instrument (eg flute, clarinet).

If you have no musical background, I would suggest trying piano, and I'll try to explain my reasons here.

I'll also share my experience learning both piano and a stringed instrument (in my case, a cello).

I love the cello, and I spent a few years back when I was a teenager, trying to play this beautiful instrument.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed learning it, and would dearly love to master the cello, I certainly did not find it easy (and I have a very advanced musical background).

The most difficult part about a stringed instrument is that there are no 'guidelines' to tell you where to put your fingers- the guitar, for example, has 'frets' which guide your fingers; stringed instruments don't have frets. so it is very easy to sound 'out of tune'. You have to rely on having a good musical ear, which not everyone has.

You also have to coordinate your bow with the other hand, which is harder than it looks; the 'fingering' part is pretty tricky, too.

The advantage of playing the violin, though is that you will have the chance to join in an orchestra, if your school or local community runs one, which is always fun (and there is always plenty of room for violinists).

On the other hand, if you want to learn piano, it will give you a really good foundation for learning any instrument, and music in general. You can learn piano chords and things like that, which is pretty difficult to do on a stringed instrument.

And, unlike the violin, the keys are very clearly laid out so there is no way you can sound out of tune! I think the piano is a good first instroduction to music, for someone who has had no musical experience before.

Lastly, the piano is versatile in the sense that you can adapt your favourite contemporary music to the piano, which is harder to do on the violin. There are so many directions you can go in with piano, which I think is a little more limiting for the violin (for example, you can find plenty of piano arrangements for popular songs, and not many arrangements for violin).

So as you can see, whether to learn piano or violin really comes down to personal choice and what you want to achieve.

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