Music is an accessible and enjoyable part of life. Learning to play an instrument is rewarding, regardless of your prior experience in music. As you master a musical instrument, you’re training yourself to be more patient and determined, maintaining dexterity and even relieving stress.
Even if you can already play an instrument or two, it’s always a great idea to pick a new one as it will allow you to branch out and improve your musicianship.
With that being said, getting an instrument can be a rather expensive endeavor. Luckily, there are quite a few options that don’t cost an arm and a leg and are also not as challenging to learn as you may assume.
Plus, all of them have tons of dedicated online tutorials and courses, so you won’t have to worry about pricey music teachers! Without further ado let’s get into the 5 cheapest and easiest musical instruments to learn.
Price: from $15
The ukulele, or the uke, is a four-stringed instrument of Portuguese origin popularized in Hawaii. Although it’s often associated with Hawaiian music, the ukulele is actually quite versatile and can be used in nearly every genre from blues and country to pop and even metal!
Compared with traditional guitar, the uke is more affordable, smaller in size, smoother on the fingertips due to the nylon strings, and more convenient to carry around. What’s more, ukuleles are a lot easier to learn and cheaper than guitars. Handling the uke is a no-brainer if you already know how to play guitar. Even if it’s your very first instrument, you can quickly learn it.
Price: from $10
The recorder is a wind instrument made of either wood or plastic. The wooden recorders usually have a richer sound than the ones made of plastic, but if you want to get the feel of it first, you can start with a plastic recorder and then upgrade if you like it. You may know this instrument from your childhood as it’s often taught in schools. It’s no wonder why – the recorder is one of the easiest to learn and cheapest instruments out there, making it ideal for beginners.
It’s easy to pick up not only for children but also for adults of any age. It doesn’t require a lot of breath to get the sound out of the recorder, so it can be mastered even by seniors. Everyone wants to get the results as quickly as possible, and this is exactly what the recorder can provide. It’s super easy to learn and you can see the progress really fast. In addition to learning how to play some tunes, you can also learn about breathing, tempo, and other fundamentals within a couple of weeks.
Once you become handy with the recorder, you can as easily move on to play the clarinet, the flute and even the saxophone because the finger placement required for these instruments is the same.
Price: from $12
The harmonica, also known as a mouth organ and French harp, is another wind instrument used in a myriad of genres, most notably in blues, folk music, country, jazz, rock and even classical music.
It’s one of the most portable instruments – it can literally fit in the front pocket of your jeans! The harmonica is played solely by breath but it may take you some time to get used to because of how it’s played. You can’t see where you’re playing it, so you have to do it solely by feeling.
Just like on the recorder, you will only play one note at a time on the harmonica, which is a lot easier than constantly focusing on multiple notes. What’s more, there are no wrong notes with the harmonica because it comes with a set (diatonic) scale. Easy peasy!
Price: from $10
The kalimba is a modern version of the mbira, an African plucked idiophone, another easy-to-learn and play instrument, especially if you’re all thumbs. You don’t have to worry about breath control, tuning or learning dozens of keys and chords because the kalimba makes the same sound every time you play a tune, much like a keyboard or piano.
It has a very small body yet can produce a great variety of sounds and recreate numerous iconic musical pieces with style. Although it may seem like the kalimba is rather an obscure instrument, there actually many kalimba players as well as tutorial videos on YouTube and other sites that will inspire and help you master the instrument every step of the way.
Price: free (or rather priceless)
Yes, your own voice is an instrument, and the best of the natural ones at that. There is so much you can do with your voice: beatboxing, rapping, throat singing, death growling, yodeling, and the list goes on. Whichever vocal technique or skill you choose can be trained and strengthened just like playing any other musical instrument.
Voice is priceless but vocal lessons can be quite costly… but they don’t have to be. Even if you aim at signing professionally, there are tons of free (and very affordable) tutorials and other learning materials available online. YouTube channels like 30 Day Singer, Dr. Dan's Voice Essentials, Madeleine Harvey’s Voice Lessons, and EricArceneaux can help you improve your vocal abilities without spending a dime.
You can also use services like LALAL.AI to cut out vocal parts from songs to listen more closely to how singers manage their voices and make your very own song covers.
Looking at everything mentioned above, it’s clear that learning an instrument, whether you already know how to play one or are a complete beginner, is a lot more easy and cheap than you might think.
Expand your musical knowledge and skillset today – get one of the instruments and start learning!