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Missing Music in My Life: Help Me Choose an Instrument


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I was in the school's band for seven years as a kid. I played flute for all of it, plus saxophone for the last year so I could also be in the jazz band. I stopped mostly because of the teacher (stressed out and flaky), but also because I stopped improving. I probably needed a better quality flute because I still had the beginner one I got when I was nine, and my parents wouldn't have paid for one.

Anyway, over the last few years I've wanted to add music back into my life. I'm trying to decide what instrument to play. Obviously I have the most experience with the flute, but honestly classical flute music isn't my favorite to listen to. As far as playing, in my experience, flutes often have boring parts in concert band music. (Maybe every instrument feels that way?) Saxophone was fun because we played fun music in jazz band. I also played around with clarinet, but they don't seem to be as common in jazz bands.

I'm not interested in percussion, brass, or oboe. Piano is out because I don't want to deal with reading multiple lines of music at once.

I've never tried any string instruments. I was never interested, but a few years ago DS took violin for a year, so I suppose I could consider it. I like the sound of the cello.

Has anyone started (or restarted) an instrument as an adult? How did you decide? I'm not sure if I should stick with flute just because it's what I picked when I was eight years old.

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Harp!  There are plenty of small lap harps, they don't have to be massive concert grands.  There is lots of music written for them: classical, pretty solos of all genres, Celtic, jazz, Christmas, ancient/medieval, even contemporary!  They always sound lovely, even as a beginner, and you can get a small one with just a few octaves or larger with more octaves and levers for accidentals.  One spot for more info: https://www.harpcenter.com/   Don't be shocked by the prices at her website, there are lots of small used harps for sale out there.

I love the recorder, specifically baroque recorder music, and it's another that's fairly affordable and quick-ish to learn.  You already know how to breathe and read music, it might be different enough from flute to catch your interest but similar enough to dive right in.

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16 minutes ago, Ailaena said:

Consider a different genre, like Irish flute!  You’d still need a teacher eventually, but maybe you’d be more interested in the music?

This is what I was going to suggest.

Take a look at https://www.oaim.ie/

Trad music can be a lot of fun, and is generally more relaxed than the classical music world. Once you have picked up the basics you can see if anyone is hosting a trad music session in your area and join in. Here's one place to find them:

https://thesession.org/

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1 hour ago, Harpymom said:

Harp!  There are plenty of small lap harps, they don't have to be massive concert grands.  There is lots of music written for them: classical, pretty solos of all genres, Celtic, jazz, Christmas, ancient/medieval, even contemporary!  They always sound lovely, even as a beginner, and you can get a small one with just a few octaves or larger with more octaves and levers for accidentals.  One spot for more info: https://www.harpcenter.com/   Don't be shocked by the prices at her website, there are lots of small used harps for sale out there.

I love the recorder, specifically baroque recorder music, and it's another that's fairly affordable and quick-ish to learn.  You already know how to breathe and read music, it might be different enough from flute to catch your interest but similar enough to dive right in.

I feel silly now that I never considered that your username meant you played harp. I thought maybe you were a step past mama bear....

I played piano and clarinet through college, but stopped after my schooling was done. I dabbled here and there with various instruments, until I found the hammered dulcimer and fell  in love. Like harp, it is easy to get a nice sound from, but once you get the basics down there are lots of directions you can go. 

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Are you missing the camaraderie of making music with other people, or more just the music making? Would you have a venue to play with other people? (church? Community band/orchestra? Folk group?) Or maybe you're wanting just to play for your own enjoyment?

Those factors might point you in some direction or another.

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Did someone already suggest ukelele? Some libraries have instruments of all kinds to check out. 

Do anything you want, but I'm old enough that I want something that sounds good no matter how well or ill I play it. Ukelele fits that. :biggrin:

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Has anyone suggested the Appalacian Dulcimer (has lots of names). Really easy to pick up and play, it's a common one for adults to try and sounds great on your own or with others. It's something different too if you've been used to wind instruments. Otherwise, if you're good with the flute, what about a treble recorder? A prettier sound, I think, than the modern flute. 

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14 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

Do anything you want, but I'm old enough that I want something that sounds good no matter how well or ill I play it. Ukelele fits that. :biggrin:

Drums 🙂 Ukulele can still sound off.

My boys have tried the violin and the cello. Cello sounded a lot nicer but also took up a lot more space. DS15 and I have played the flute. My husband plays the clarinet. The thing with wind instruments is that its harder to practice with a cold or chapped lips. 

I am looking into buying a music keyboard because with majority of my neighbors working from home, it is not so nice to play on the piano during office hours. My husband also have conference calls in the evenings sometimes. At least with a music keyboard I could listen to what I play with headphones and not disturb anyone. 

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Have you ever considered using your flute to play more exotic music such as traditional Asian or Native American music?

I played violin, trumpet, French horn, and piano as a kid.  I wouldn't recommend trumpet, because it's kinda loud and obnoxious at my age, and French horn seems like it doesn't have much use as a solo instrument.  I love piano, but pianos are kinda big and bulky if you don't already have one.  Violin is a nice instrument, but it takes a lot of skill to not sound squeaky/whiny.  Maybe viola / cello would give you the benefits without the drawbacks of strings.

My daughter plays clarinet.  As a kid, I was told I couldn't play a reed instrument because my teeth were too crooked.  But I got my teeth straightened with Invisalign, so I'd like to try clarinet.  My kid won't let me near her reeds, but maybe if I bought my own mouthpiece, that would be something to try.  It is a pretty-sounding instrument that can be enjoyed solo.

For my last birthday, I bought myself a guitar, but I haven't taken it out of the box yet.  I plan to learn classical and folk guitar when I get the time.

I also wonder if I should work on my voice as an instrument.  I used to be able to sing OK, but age has changed my voice.

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