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the compromise of musical instruments when choosing one to learn

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  • the compromise of musical instruments when choosing one to learn

    Many things to consider:

    1. difficulty in learning to master
    2. price to purchase or rent
    3. portability
    4. richness of tone and harmony
    5. ability to play chords
    6. lending itself to use your voice to sing while playing
    7. whether it requires electricity or batteries to play
    8. the ability to easily look at the instrument while playing to quickly find the correct notes with your eyes
    9. how much natural rhythm you possess
    10. relative ease and cost of tuning and maintenance
    11. how well it fits your body: ergonomics
    12. your level of dexterity in your hands and/or feet
    13. scope or repertoire of the instrument
    14. how physically and mentally demanding they are to play
    15. your health and level of fitness and endurance: brasswinds aren't for asthma patients
    16. do you appreciate the sound of this instrument? (often tubas, bagpipes, harpsichords, accordions and pipe organs are annoying to some people: a violin in the hands of a greenhorn is an infernal thing: better have mutes for a trumpet if you live in an apartment)
    17. is my favorite music within the repertoire of the instrument?

    Brasswinds, woodwinds and strings are very tough to learn how to produce the correct notes and pitches. Keyboards can easily produce the correct notes but most are not very portable. Though highly portable, you cannot easily look at the keys and buttons while playing an accordion and they are physically demanding to pump the bellow. Compared with a keyboard like a piano's, it is tough to learn how find the correct desired notes and chords fast on a fretted stringed instrument like a guitar or banjo and these instruments are tough on the fingers. A keyboard rises and descends in pitch logically and in a linear chromatic fashion. Guitar frets, trumpet valves, bagpipe chanter holes, button accordions and cello fingerboards have complicated fingering patterns: they're not linear and intuitive to play the correct notes as is on a straight diatonic keyboard. Harmonicas are limited in repertoire and the reeds can get sticky and rusty. Drums alone are capable of no harmony or melody.

    A Casio keyboard is the best compromise for me in a small, portable, cheap instrument with a fairly broad repertoire. It still has that major drawback of requiring electric current to play.

    A French horn is about the toughest thing to extract any kind of musical sound from. Here is all the effort it takes to learn just 5 notes!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OlWeKV6bMCU&t=64s

  • #2
    A well-thought-out posting. I wanted to learn piano at 15 because we had one. I wanted to play organ many years later because my sister bought a house and the organ was in it. It was a Hammond spinet and it started this ride that I still don't know to where.

    I bought a Juno DS61 synth a month or two ago because I liked the look of the black special edition, and I'm still amazed at all the sounds that can fit in it. It can run on batteries, but it needs some type of amp or at least headphones to use it that way. Today I discovered that I can play two sounds in the DS from my Roland piano using MIDI.
    Last edited by Silken Path; 07-12-2020, 05:15 AM. Reason: More precise
    -- I'm Lamar -- 1967 Allen TC-4 Classic, 1899 Kimball mirrored high top
    -- Rodgers W5000, Roland RD300nx, Juno DS-61/88 - 1975 Conn 643 Theater - 1959 Hammond M3
    -- Public domain hymn search: https://songselect.ccli.com/search/r...t=publicdomain

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    • #3
      I wonder how many people decide they want to play a musical instrument without already having something in mind. The OP has certainly highlighted the complexity of starting from base zero.

      Previous: Elka Crescendo 303, Technics G7, Yamaha EL-90
      Current: Yamaha AR-100

      Comment


      • #4
        Good, well thought out post!

        But once I'd heard the Hammond organ, that was it. All the items on the list became very much secondary issues. I wanted to play organ.
        It's not what you play. It's not how you play. It's the fact that you're playing that counts.

        New website now live - www.andrew-gilbert.com

        Current instruments: Roland Atelier AT900 Platinum Edition, Yamaha PSR-S970, Kawai K1m
        Retired Organs: Lots! Kawai SR6 x 2, Hammond L122, T402, T500 x 2, X5. Conn Martinique and 652. Gulbransen 2102 Pacemaker. Kimball Temptation.
        Retired Leslies, 147, 145 x 2, 760 x 2, 710, 415 x 2.
        Retired synths: Korg 700, Roland SH1000, Jen Superstringer, Kawai S100F, Kawai S100P, Kawai K1

        Comment


        • #5
          I'm very sorry. With all due respect to previous posters, I cannot agree that the o.p. is "well thought out". The opposite. It is overthought, yet simplistic, and just plain wrong. I can rebut everyone of the 17 points. Every one. This is nothing more than an adult's evaluation of a process that for MOST requires little or no analysis. No one plays a Bassoon because they have run the choice through that 17 point checklist. They were assigned the Bassoon in grade school because they were bigger than anyone else in the class and could physically handle the instrument. A Bassoon cannot play chords. Few instruments can. And? If the ability to play chords was really that important most instruments could not exist.

          This keyboardcentricity is not totally out of place on an Organ Forum but the ... disdain for 'lesser instruments' is troubling. I play French Horn at a level that allows for public performance. French Horn is no more (or less) difficult than any other Brass Instrument. When a really advanced Tubist (Tuba player) does "Flight of the Bumblebee" they are in need of French Horn player level mastery of their instrument and many Tuba players do in fact attain that level of mastery.

          A Symphony Orchestra brings in the neighborhood of 100 musicians on nearly every known instrument in the Western World together in collaboration. This is what separates us from the beasts in the fields. The ability to explore niche abilities and collaborate on projects that do not involve brute survival. The pipe organ is the "King of Instruments" but it is not the only instrument. Yah, it takes weeks or longer to even figure out how to get musical sounds out of a Brass Instrument but a world without any Brass Instruments would be missing something I think. Most performance ready pipe organs have several Reed Stops and there are hundreds of "Trumpet and Tuba Tunes" in the repertoire but few organists would pass up the opportunity to collaborate with a real Brass Musician or Brass Quintet on one of the many hundreds of pieces of repertoire composed for such an alliance.

          Comment


          • #6
            Leisesturm, thank your for your words. When I first read the original post, it bothered me but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. Your thoughts have helped me to organize my own a bit better, though there is still room for them to develop.

            Overall, the original post seems negative, as if we all choose our instrument by eliminating all the others that somehow present too many challenges that we aren't prepared to deal with, let alone overcome.

            In contrast, I suspect that most of us have CHOSEN instruments because we loved the sound they made or the repertoire that we heard played on them. In some cases, we chose that instrument because we had a crush on someone, either our own age or younger/older, who played that instrument. And when we chose, even if there were challenges to learning it, we were prepared to deal with those challenges. In some cases, we might even relish the opportunity to tackle such challenges.

            We were drawn to the instrument because of its POSITIVES, not "stuck with our instrument" because of the negatives of all the other instruments.

            There are instances where we did not have a choice. My family already had a piano and not a lot of money to spend on new instruments that I might or might not want to pursue after a few months or a year. So, I took piano lessons.

            In the original post, too many instruments are mentioned only in relationship to negatives - too hard to play, can't do this or that, suffer from endless problems, etc. And there are enough personal assumptions and false generalizations in the post that really don't contribute to productive discussion.

            To correct some false generalizations:
            - For the right person, the French horn is the easiest instrument to play.
            - Many drummers will tell you that they can play melodies - it might just be you who can't hear them.
            - Harmonica reeds get sticky and rusty? They're made of brass. As far as I know, brass may tarnish or corrode, but it does not rust.

            It is true that there are challenges involved with learning any musical instrument. And if we pursue any instrument, there will continue to be challenges, even as we improve. In return for accepting (and hopefully meeting) those challenges, we will be rewarded with wonderful musical opportunities.

            If, in life, we threw in the towel just because there was a challenge, we might as well have just stayed in diapers and kept a nipple near our lips.

            In two of the responses (Silken Path and andyg), some of the most important words are used: "I wanted to...." Those words negate most of the OP's list of 'things to consider' and for good reason.
            Last edited by regeron; 07-12-2020, 05:01 PM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by andyg View Post
              Good, well thought out post!

              But once I'd heard the Hammond organ, that was it. All the items on the list became very much secondary issues. I wanted to play organ.
              The bad is you can't play the Hammond organ at a campfire very easily. Cowboys often pack guitars and harmonicas but I was never good at either
              instrument. There are those little harmoniums you pump a little bellow in back with one hand but that only leaves the other single hand to play either chords
              or a melody line. How light and portable can a clavichord be built?

              Comment


              • myorgan
                myorgan commented
                Editing a comment
                Jon,

                You've never seen or played a field organ?

                Michael

            • #8
              How much do you want to? An M3 will fit in the back of a SUV or even a 'crossover' and you can run it from the vehicle's power 8) A little more practical would be a digital keyboard, it would be much easier on the battery. Also, there are portable reed organs, they have been around a *long* time, and powered by feet 8)
              edit: You could actually build a portable Hammond "chop" without the tube amps. Run it through a portable battery powered guitar amp, or put efficient solid state amps into the chop. Swap the standard run motor out with a brushless DC motor and that rig would run for hours on a set of 'D'
              cells. Hmmm, this gives me an idea, I have all of these pieces ...
              Tom in Tulsa

              Fooling with: 1969 E100, 1955 M3, 1963 M100, Leslie 720

              Comment


              • #9
                I solved the campfire problem by learning both the accordion and the guitar and since I drive a 9-ton-4x4-ex-disaster-relief-truck I can easily bring both instruments should the need arise.

                However, I didn't choose any of my instruments by thinking about aspects from the list. I learned the basics of recorder playing in kindergarten because we all did. I started learning the piano because in my family there's someone in every generation who plays the piano and then came guitar (because I found Mum's old guitar in the attic) and accordion (because I thought it was a cool instrument) and the organ (because my MD in the choir said I should try it) and then additional instruments like the horn and the flute and various percussion stuff.

                I chose my subjects at music college out of interest (and talent) and didn't think twice whether it would be "difficult" to train as a classical singer or whether I should choose the piano or the organ as my main instrument or... who knows what would have happened had I had this list.

                By the way, there are doctors who recommend wind instruments to patients with asthma or other lung/breathing issues. But that's another topic and this is an organ forum

                Comment


                • Larrytow
                  Larrytow commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Thank you for the photo Andi ! That is definitely a Real Truck. I'm thinking you can go anywhere, And come back, with that rig. That is a nice crew cab on it as well. Have you ever needed to drive it to church to play - winter storms or whatever ? If so, you probably got the same looks as I did when I used to take a tow truck.

                  That truck would make an excellent off road recovery wrecker too.

                • myorgan
                  myorgan commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I don't know if that's big enough or enough power to carry an organ.

                  Michael

                • andijah
                  andijah commented
                  Editing a comment
                  In theory, there's enough payload for an organ. But we're using the truck for other purposes anyway, the question triggers another thought and I will open a new discussion, I think.

              • #10
                Originally posted by andijah View Post
                By the way, there are doctors who recommend wind instruments to patients with asthma or other lung/breathing issues. But that's another topic and this is an organ forum
                Arnold Jacobs, one of the greatest Tubists (tuba player) to have lived, had asthma and other cardio-pulmonary issues so severe that he only had the breathing capacity of a person with one lung. He had a 44 year long career with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

                Comment


                • #11
                  Originally posted by jonmyrlebailey View Post

                  Cowboys often pack guitars and harmonicas but I was never good at either instrument.
                  So are you a cowboy?
                  Bill

                  My home organ: Content M5800 as a midi controller for Hauptwerk

                  Comment


                  • #12
                    In a movie some time back I think Jon Voight said “That depends on what you think a real cowboy is”
                    Tom in Tulsa

                    Fooling with: 1969 E100, 1955 M3, 1963 M100, Leslie 720

                    Comment


                    • #13
                      When I decided to play the piano, I definitely did not think of all those things! I basically said, "it sounds cool, looks impressive, and my role model brother plays it (he actually played the organ)." I think that you don't end up thinking about all that stuff UNTIL you start playing. For me, I just started without thinking it through because I was so amazed by the instrument!
                      “I play the notes as they are written, but it is God who makes the music.” - Johann Sebastian Bach
                      Organs I Play:
                      - Allen 2100(T); 1951 M.P. Moller, 3 manual, 55 stop, 28 ranks, (Opus 8152); and 1965 Balcom and Vaughan 3 manual, 34 stops, 25 ranks (Opus 690)

                      Comment


                      • #14
                        For me, I heard a real pipe organ, and how the principals and flutes sounded great, and it could even sound like an orchestra with a full range of strings and brass. Being able to play many instruments with the easy to use interface of a keyboard is why I chose the organ. For my use it is half way to being a one man band.
                        Allen 530A

                        Comment


                        • #15
                          Originally posted by Leisesturm View Post
                          I'm very sorry. With all due respect to previous posters, I cannot agree that the o.p. is "well thought out". The opposite. It is overthought, yet simplistic, and just plain wrong. I can rebut everyone of the 17 points. Every one.
                          Would you like to share your rebuts?

                          “I play the notes as they are written, but it is God who makes the music.” - Johann Sebastian Bach
                          Organs I Play:
                          - Allen 2100(T); 1951 M.P. Moller, 3 manual, 55 stop, 28 ranks, (Opus 8152); and 1965 Balcom and Vaughan 3 manual, 34 stops, 25 ranks (Opus 690)

                          Comment

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