If you like music and would like to be able to play an instrument, it is never too early or too late to start.

It doesn’t matter if you’re starting from the bottom because, in music, there are stepping stones to help you along the way, and some instruments are easier to learn than others. 

The piano is a good instrument to learn first for those who want to build a solid foundation as it offers rapid gratification, variety, and an easy introduction to music. However, an inexpensive alternative is a ukulele, which is easy to learn, fun to play, and you can carry it wherever you go.

This article will take a look at why either the piano or the ukulele would be an excellent choice for a first instrument. The piano offers the best foundation to build upon, and the ukulele is one of the easiest instruments to learn.

This article will also take a look at other instruments that are also easy to pick up and what to consider before selecting one.

Learning Music through Piano

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The piano is generally considered a good starting point for anyone wanting to start learning how to play music as it offers rapid gratification and satisfactorily fulfills the passion for making music. 

Rapid Gratification

The piano can offer gratification for aspirant musicians because all you need to do is press one of the keys for the instrument to produce sound. 

If you are taking lessons in piano, you will be able to play a very basic melody in your very first lesson. There are very few musical instruments that can offer this benefit as most require the mastery of technique before any real musical growth can take place.

Woodwind instruments require you to master embouchure techniques before coaxing sound from the instrument and strings instruments require lots of practice before you can make melodies.

The piano, on the other hand, has a set of keys that, when pressed, make a sound and can create a melody. That is why it is such a popular choice for children in particular.

Rapid Growth

The piano is a highly versatile instrument, and it offers the ability to play increasingly complex melodies as your technique and skill level increase. 

The reason why it’s a good choice as a first instrument is that it offers the musical student the ability to grow in their technique and ability rapidly.

The piano can take you from playing three blind mice in your very first lesson to recognizable and popular songs after only a year.

The clear trajectory of growth in piano playing makes it a popular choice for a first instrument.

Basic Technique

As a first instrument, one of the most significant benefits of the piano is that it doesn’t require as much technique as other instruments.

Although the piano might place a higher demand on technique at a more advanced level, you can generally play a fair few tunes without much technique at all.

The brass, woodwind, and strings instruments often require the mastery of technique before you can produce a decent tune. 

The piano works in the opposite manner. You can press a key on the piano in any which way you want, and the instrument will still produce a quality sound. This gratifies the player and encourages practice, which leads to the development of a more refined technique. 

Rich Repertoire

The piano is an incredibly complex instrument that is abundant in variety and complete in scope.

You can play anything from nursery rhymes to lullabies, to hymns and psalms, and up to transcriptions of symphonies, operas, and cantatas — all on the humble piano!

It also offers a relatively smooth transition to the keyboard for those that prefer an electronic sound.

Solid Foundation

The piano is widely regarded as one of the best instruments to build a solid foundation in music as it helps you to read sheet music, keep rhythm, and express yourself musically. 

These factors, in particular, are useful for other instruments in other families such as woodwind, brass, or strings as well, and that is why it is an excellent first instrument. It makes the transition to other parts of music easier (source).

An Inexpensive Alternative

The piano might be an excellent first instrument, but it can be on the costly side. This is because a full-sized piano would be expensive to buy for those that wish to teach themselves.

If you don’t have the funds needed to buy a piano, you’d need to fork out for lessons that can also run up the bills in the long run. Therefore, we propose the ukulele as an inexpensive alternative first instrument.

The Ukulele

The ukulele is a cross between a mandolin and a guitar. The soprano version has four strings that make chord shapes and scales easy to learn. It is also small and portable, which makes it fun for those that like to take their music with them.

As a bonus, the ukulele is inexpensive to buy and easy to look after, which makes it an excellent choice for an alternative first instrument (source).

Perhaps you’re more interested in string instruments and not necessarily all that interested in piano as a stepping stone? The ukulele offers an excellent foundation for those interested in other string instruments such as guitar, bass, or violin.

The reason why the ukulele is such a good choice as a first stringed instrument is because it has soft nylon strings that are gentle on your fingers, and its compact size means that you won’t suffer wrist tension or pain as the frets are easily reachable. 

Another drawcard for the ukulele is that you can play most popular songs on it, and you can even simplify complex chords to play them on the four strings of the instrument.

You can play all of the scales and chords that you will learn to play on the guitar on the ukulele — they will just be named differently (source). 

Easy Instruments for an Introduction to Music

The piano and the ukulele are both excellent choices for a first instrument, and each will provide a good introduction to the world of music for a novice. 

The piano is a smart and versatile choice and offers a good foundation in general. The ukulele or uke is a fun, inexpensive, and portable instrument that is simple to learn and provides a good foundation for string instruments.

However, if neither of these tickles your fancy, the following instruments are all reasonably easy to learn for aspirant musicians and will provide a good foundation for those just entering the world of music.

The Recorder

The recorder is often the first instrument used when teaching children music, and the reason is quite simple.

The recorder is a simple, direct melody instrument that makes it suitable for kids. You can learn how to get a good sound out of a recorder reasonably quickly with the correct teaching methods.

It’s a reliable instrument to learn first as it doesn’t require refined technique or motor skills to play. It is also small and compact, which makes it portable, and it’s relatively inexpensive to buy (source).

The Guitar

The guitar is a wise choice for most aspirant musicians and, as far as studying music goes, it is a reasonably good first instrument.

The reason for this is because the guitar is so versatile, it can play a wide range of notes, which makes it suited to various styles of music, and it’s portable, so it can be packed up and taken with you wherever you go.

The guitar is also considered a good instrument to use as an introduction to the world of music because it is fairly easy to learn to play. 

The guitar has distinguishable and marked frets that clearly indicate the division between notes and where to place your fingers. That makes it easier to play correctly on the guitar, as opposed to the violin that has no frets.


Percussion instruments produce sound when you strike, beat, scrape, or rub them. Percussion instruments could be one of the oldest forms of musical instruments, and they can be fairly easy to play, although they do need some technique and skill to master. 

Drums are a well-known member of the percussion family, and they are loud and expressive and fun. If you’re energetic and not averse to noise – drums are a good choice for a first instrument. 

A drum set can be expensive to buy, but it offers a wonderful entry to the world of percussion and will develop rhythm and coordination, which are skill sets that can be applied to a great number of musical instruments. 

Final Thoughts

Although several instruments are fairly easy to learn to play, the smartest choice for a first musical instrument is the piano. It is versatile, offers a wide range of benefits, and has a proud history that can help even the most novice musician build a fantastic foundation.

The piano helps aspirant musicians and those just starting to get a feel for musical expression, read sheet music, and create melodies.

However, if you’re not in the market for piano playing just yet, the ukulele offers a fantastic and inexpensive alternative for those that like to learn easy and quick melodies on an instrument that can they can carry around with them.