13 Things to do

When learning to play an instrument

1 Decide. Deciding to start learning to play an instrument can be as simple as picking one up somewhere, perhaps at a friend's house, and playing it. The music you create might not sound great to you right away, but in fact, you are already learning that instrument.

2 Get an instrument. Buy, rent, or borrow one that is attractive to you and within your budget. Don't get an instrument that's too cheap or too expensive.

3 Find a nice place in the house for your instrument. Store it where you spend your leisure time, or someplace where you're going to see it often during your day. The more accessible your instrument, the more you will pick it up and play it. Eventually you'll be picking it up every free minute you have.

4 Listen for the sounds that you like. Experiment, focusing on a few notes or rhythms that interest you. When you do something you like, do it again and try to remember it for next time. In the beginning, it's all really this simple!

5 Learn the basics of music theory. Knowledge of simple chords and scales will broaden your musical imagination, you can do a great deal with a just a little. Ask a friend to show you, or find an online resource. Learn these basic structures at a comfortable pace, and soon you'll be tackling more advanced ideas .

6 Take lessons if you think you should. While you'll likely learn technique faster from a teacher than on your own, it is you, yourself who must find your own self expression.

7 Practice playing in time. Find a beat off of which to work: there are free metronomes online. A ticking clock or the radio will function well for you too. Even if you're more interested in playing out of time or experimenting with odd times, you should know how to relate music to time.

8 Play with a friend, it's more fun. As well as helping you to stay in time, this will introduce you to new ways of playing.

9 Start a band. Collaboration with others will give you direction and motivation in your music.

10 Play scales. On all instruments, playing scales will help you improve faster technically

11 Take grades. Grades are another great way to motivate you, and they also give you an indication of your standard. It's probably best if you start at grade 1.

12 Play the music passionately. No matter how boring a piece, even if it's like a nursery rhyme or something, play it with your heart and soul. If you're finding this hard, imagine you're telling a story with the music and actually say an appropriate story in your head. Even better, try to fit emotions with the music, for example if there's a sad chord "feel" hatred, if it's a happy chord feel relief.

13 Practice practice practice! Start by aiming for 30 minutes a day (even less if you play a wind instrument) and as you notice you get better, gradually increase it to say, an hour. It's not the end of the world if you don't get your planned practice time in!