Mike Moxcey ©2005

Learning Music vs. Learning an Instrument

The most difficult aspect of learning your first musical instrument is that you must learn two different things:
  1. The mechanics of the instrument: how to hold it, how to coordinate your fingers (and mouth or body for certain instruments), and how to control the volume, tone, and other characteristics that you can’t even hear yet because you’re unfamiliar with the instrument.
  2. The mechanics of music: what a scale is, what the parts of a song are, and the differences between melody and rhythm and chords.
And you have to learn songs, too.

The reason many able musicians can play multiple instruments is that learning a second instrument is easier. In EVERY CASE, the underlying music is the same. You play the same melody to each song. It has the same song structure and chords and uses the same kind of scale. You don’t have to relearn any of that.

When I get hold of a new instrument, the first thing I do is learn how to tune it, then I learn three chords and play most of the songs I know. If it doesn’t have chords, then I learn one or two scales and play most of the songs I know. After that, I either experiment and become proficient or I put it down because the sound doesn’t appeal to me.

But to begin with, you need to learn both an instrument and music in general. Keeping those two things separate in your mind and during practice sessions usually makes it easier to learn.
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