If you’ve ever had the urge to learn an instrument but haven’t had time, you might find life slows down as you get to 50 and actually have the time to seriously consider taking up a musical instrument.
But you don’t want to spend years taking lessons before you can even feel you’re getting the hang of it! You want to be able to play songs really quickly, after all, you’ve waited a long time to do this!
So what is the easiest instrument to learn at 50?
The recorder is one of the easiest instruments to learn. Many schools teach the recorder in the early years and it gives a good solid musical start for children. When played well, the recorder is a joy to listen to.
For older beginners, the best thing about the recorder is it doesn’t take a lot of breath to get a sound out of it, making it an easy musical instrument to learn for adults.
There are different recorders that play at different pitches: soprano, alto and tenor, each one progressively larger than the last. Once you can play one of them, you can play them all! The larger the recorder, the lower and richer the sound.
Recorders can be made of plastic or wood. The wooden ones tend to have a richer sound than the plastic ones. But if you just want to get going and see if you like it, you can start with a cheap plastic one and then upgrade.
Here is a great “first lesson” on the recorder to get you started:
The good news is that if you master the recorder, you can easily move on to play the clarinet, the saxophone or the flute as the finger placement is the same.
The Lyre Harp
Harps come in many sizes and with various numbers of strings. A small Celtic harp can perch on the knee, or on a small stool in front of the player, and is very portable.
The lyre harp is really small and much easier to learn than a big harp. They can have from 7 to 10 strings. They are extremely affordable too, making this a very good musical instrument for adults to learn, plus the sound is light and ethereal.
The lyre has a long history, dating back to 14th century BC and appears in ancient drawings and many important documents.
Here is an introductory lesson for playing the lyre. The harp this teacher uses is called a “Davidic” harp, which is a type of lyre.
Percussion instruments are much easier to master and have an organic, primitive feel to them. They are the best instrument to learn if you lack the confidence to learn a tuned instrument. If you do decide to learn a percussion instrument, you might decide to learn to play several rather than just one. They are the easiest instruments to learn of all instruments as you can’t play any wrong notes!
Drum circles are very popular and great social events, making the drum one of the best instruments to learn at 50.
Even without a drum circle, you don’t need to get a band together. Put some of your favorite music on and play along with it! This is something you can do with almost any percussion instrument, making this one of the best instruments to learn.
Another very ancient instrument that is found in various forms from all over the world are the bongos. Bongos are a set of two conjoined drums, one small with a high tone and one larger with a lower tone. You can get bongos made of various different materials, but whichever you choose to get, they are very affordable.
Played with the fingers and using the hands in a strategic way to change the sound of each drum, they are one of the best instruments to learn.
Here is a beginner lesson on the bongos:
The castanets are a pair of tiny wooden percussion instruments associated with dancing Spanish flamenco, but they are also used in several other countries such as Portugal, Italy, and Switzerland.
To play them, you attach them to your thumbs and use your fingers to produce the clicking sound.
Castanets are featured in the instrumental break in the popular song “Under the Boardwalk” by The Drifters.
Here is a tutorial on playing the castanets:
If you think all those percussion instruments are for lightweights, you might consider learning to play the standard drum kit. But you must have the room and be able to make a lot of noise where you live!
A brand new kit can set you back several hundred, or you might get a good quality second hand one for a steal. Learning how to play the drums takes more practice than most other percussion instruments, but it’s great fun. This is also one of the best instruments to learn as you can enjoy playing along with your favorite songs or even play in a band.
Here is a good beginner lesson on the drum kit:
The tambourine is a very simple but effective percussion instrument to play along with on all your favorite songs or play along with a friend who plays the piano or guitar. There are many variations in the style of tambourine you can choose. Some are all metal, some are wooden with animal skin, and so on. They all have “jingles” - small cymbals built into the side - but the number of cymbals varies. You can produce quite a few different sounds depending on whether you bang it or shake it. This is definitely one of the easiest instruments to learn.
Here’s a tutorial on how to play the Pandeiro which is a slightly more mature type of tambourine from Brazil.
If you’re going to learn the guitar, the best way to start in with chords on a nylon string guitar. Other types of guitars include steel-string, 12 string, classical style, chord strumming, electric, or bass guitar.
The easiest way to start is with a nylon string guitar because steel strings can really make your fingers hurt a lot in the beginning. Once you can play, you can switch to a steel string or electric guitar quite easily. Playing chords is a quick and easy way to get started playing songs that you can sing along with.
The guitar is a bit more difficult than the other instruments we’ve mentioned so far, but the rewards are greater. If you have the time, it’s one of the best instruments to learn at 50. Here is a detailed tutorial on how to get started playing chords on the guitar:
Another one of the easiest instruments to learn is the Ukulele. In recent years it has become hugely popular to own and play, as well as being used in a large number of commercials. There are several sizes available including soprano, concert, and tenor ukulele.
It has four strings and is like a small guitar but it’s much easier to learn and play than the guitar. It doesn’t hurt the fingertips as much as a full-size guitar and it’s also much easier to carry around.
This is one of the best instruments to learn as you’ll very quickly be able to play and sing many songs with just a few simple chords.
Here’s a free 10-day course on the ukulele:
The keyboard is a really great choice to learn because of the number of different things you can do with it, but it does take a bit more time to learn how to play.
Almost all keyboards come with drum tracks you can play along with and have a huge variety of sounds so if you get tired of the piano sound, you can change to strings, organ, trumpet, or even electronic sounds.
This is one of the best instruments to learn at 50 if you want a bit more of a challenge. If you’ve ever had any piano lessons in your life, then you might find you pick this up quite easily. With the keyboard, you can play both classical music as well as pop songs. If you’re just getting started, check out our piece on the seven easy piano songs for beginners for more guidance.
Because there are so many keyboards on the market, here is a video with an overview of how to choose a keyboard:
So, what is the easiest instrument to learn for you? Consider all these options and see which one you think you have time to learn and would enjoy playing the most. Then go for it!