Instruments that are the easiest to pick up
Music brings happiness and joy to people of all ages. While many dream of playing an instrument, very few are willing to put in the time and effort to learn one, thinking it may be too difficult or that they may be too old to learn. However, this is not the case. No matter what age you are, it's never too late to pick up an instrument. The key is finding an instrument that is easy to learn, fits your level of commitment, and matches your personal tastes. In this blog post, we'll explore some of the easiest instruments to learn, regardless of your age or natural talent.
Many people can find the drums intimidating, but they are actually one of the easiest instruments to learn. While it might take some time to develop hand and foot coordination, the basics are relatively straightforward.
With practice, you can learn simple drumbeats for many genres, and the rhythm will come naturally as you play more. Drumming is a great way to express your creativity and make some serious noise. Anyone can learn to play the drums in no time if they put in the practice and dedication! It's important to start off with simple beats and work your way up. As you become more comfortable, you can create complex rhythms that will have your friends dancing along.
The more practice you put in, the easier it'll be to find your groove. Don't be afraid to experiment with different genres of music - you never know what kind of sound you might discover! As long as you have fun and stay focused on improving, drumming can be an incredibly rewarding experience.
The ukulele is one of the easiest instruments to pick up, especially for beginners. It's small in size and only has four strings, which make it easier to memorise chords. The strings are also gentle on the fingers, which is perfect for those who are just starting to develop calluses. This instrument is perfect for beginners who want to play along with their favourite songs or perform at social events. The ukulele has a mellow, sweet tone that is great for both strumming and fingerpicking. It's also quite lightweight, making it easy to carry around with you wherever you go. Plus, the cost of buying one is generally much lower than traditional guitars or other string instruments. For these reasons, it makes an excellent choice for anyone just starting out on their musical journey.
The keyboard or the piano is also quite easy to learn. It has a range of sounds, and you can start by playing simple songs with just one hand. You can progress to playing more complicated pieces with both hands after time of practicing. The visual component can help beginners understand the basics of music theory, and you can find a wide range of tutorials and resources online. Playing the keyboard or piano can be incredibly rewarding. Pianos are also highly valued in live musicals, as they can serve as the backbone of an orchestra, providing a rich and versatile accompaniment to singers and other instruments.
The harmonica is another great instrument for beginners as it can be cheap in price. The cost of purchasing a harmonica is relatively low compared to other instruments. It's compact, easy to carry around, and has a unique sound that can be used in many music genres.
There may be a slight learning curve, but once you get the hang of it, you'll be able to play songs in no time. The harmonica can be an especially fun instrument to learn. It's great for travelling, as it fits easily into your pocket, and its sound is unmistakable and evocative. Learning how to play the harmonica may require some practice but once you get the hang of it you will soon be able to play lots of songs with ease.
Finally, don't forget about your voice! Singing is another way to enjoy music, and it's something anyone can do. You don't have to be a professional singer to sing along with your favourite tunes, and singing can even be a therapeutic outlet for stress and anxiety. There's also a wide range of resources online to help you improve your vocals.
No matter what instrument you choose, playing music is an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Whether it's the ukulele, the keyboard, the harmonica, the drums, or your own voice, you can find an instrument that suits your preference and that's easy to learn. All you need is a little time and dedication, and you'll be jamming with your favourite artists in no time. Remember, play through your age and enjoy the journey of music-making!
Blog post by Rosie Buckley
Part 3 - the recording environment
Recording a high-quality song can be a challenge, especially if you don't have access to expensive equipment or professional studios. However, there are some simple steps you can take to improve the quality of your recordings without breaking the bank. One of the most important things you can do is to record in a suitable space.
Finding a quiet and treated space to record in can make a big difference in the quality of your recordings. When you record in a noisy environment, you're likely to pick up unwanted background noise, which can be distracting and affect the overall quality of your recording. Even if you're recording at home, there are likely to be sounds from outside, such as traffic or neighbors, that can be picked up by your microphone.
If you don't have access to a professional studio, there are some simple things you can do to create a good recording environment at home.
Here are a few tips:
Recording in a quiet and treated space can make a big difference in the quality of your recordings, even if you're working with a limited budget. By choosing a quiet space, soundproofing the room, recording in a closet, and using a pop filter, you can create a clean and clear recording that sounds professional. So, start experimenting with different recording environments today and see how much of a difference it can make in the quality of your recordings!
By Vladimir Gilis
You asked and I listened! I have had many requests over the years from students wanting a safe space to sing in a group setting, so I started my very own contemporary singing workshop at the end of last year. I am so excited to be continuing with these as a regular singing workshop at Planet drum in 2023.
These workshops have been designed to be as inclusive and as dynamic as possible. They are suitable for ALL abilities with NO previous singing experience required. The workshops are:
So far we have covered songs ranging from Lady Gaga, Kings of Leon, to Stormzy and Bon Jovi. At the start of the workshops, we commence with some fun and easy warm ups to get you into the swing of things. This is then followed by some more challenging warm ups for those who are feeling adventurous. I will then try to work with each person 1:1 for a few minutes to work out their goals and their vocal range so we can determine where you feel comfortable singing when we split up into harmonies. The second half of the workshop is where the fun really begins and we break down some iconic rock and pop songs to sing together. There is even a chance for some solo singing for anyone who wants to. These workshops are planned with YOU in mind so you can push yourself as much or as little as you feel comfortable.
We have had not only singers, but drummers and bass players join too. Email Vlad to book you place in the next workshop! firstname.lastname@example.org
When I first started singing, I was too nervous to sing in front of anyone - even my family. There was this innate fear that I would hit a wrong note and would be eternally judged for it. This seems very ridiculous now looking back on it, however I strongly believe that this is a fear that many of us studying musicians seem to have at some point. Whatever instrument you play, whether it be your voice or your drumkit, feels like an extension of yourself so it always feels very personal when you play the 'wrong thing' or the 'wrong note'.
Fun fact: Through my experience of performing live, a gig of 3000 people I have never met was nowhere near as horrifying as playing for a small pub of 30 filled with my closest family and friends. I think this is because their opinion matters the most to us.
So the question is, how do we get over this fear? Firstly, the thing to ask yourself is why do you want to play and learn your instrument in the first place. Is it just a personal hobby or a form of therapy? Is it to interact with other like-minded people? Secondly, we can also realize that you improve the most by taking risks and making these mistakes in the first place. I can guarantee that a lot of your music idols are as good as they are because they kept making mistakes and did not give up. The best thing you can do for your learning is to take the risk and play with other people.
A great way to do this is to join me, Vlad and Peter in our band workshops. It takes a lot of courage to show up and leave your insecurities at the door. Most other students in the room are most likely feeling apprehensive and nervous too. Our band workshops are a safe space for you to see what it is like to play with other people, a real band. There is no feeling like it when you bounce off of others - it is a real buzz! All of our students that attend are of all abilities, some have only had 1 or 2 lessons and some have been playing for years so it is a really fun and supportive environment.
From a personal perspective, even though I am a teacher, my singing and confidence has improved dramatically since taking part in the band workshops. I also now have a great repertoire of songs I have learned that I can take with me when I am out singing karaoke with my friends or playing a small pub gig.
If you think you would like to give it a try, please email me at email@example.com and we can help you get booked in.
Planet drum admin & singing teacher
I started drum lessons
at Planet Drum when I was about 7 and I quickly picked up the basics: everything as simple as stick grip to complex rudiments. My favourite part of my time at Planet Drum was that you would rarely ever play alone. Whether it be in a concert with a full band or just practicing with your teacher and a background track, I was almost never just asked to play along a track with no one else.
I also liked
how the lessons were structured. As a student I had a lot of control over the lesson, for example I could ask for a longer warm up or to focus more on one particular song. I could also control whether I did the grade exams or just played for fun, which allowed me to progress at my own pace without pressure. Outside the lessons themselves, there were also workshops with many children of similar age, where I met and learned from musicians of all sorts.
Blog post by Gaspard Froment
Guitar and Ukulele lessons with Vladimir
I love to play in bands as well as teaching as I can learn something from each world. So far I manage to stay in a few bands and musical projects as well as teaching in a few schools.
The most important thing for me is to keep things fresh in what I do, so that both my audience, my students and myself keep the interest in music. Usually this is done by constantly refreshing the repertoire and studying music. Whenever the set list becomes stale I get nervous and need to change something.
With students or workshops, it is the same. It doesn't have to be a new song , it could be a new arrangement of an old tune - or musicians can swap and jam. Every musical situation is an opportunity to learn something from the musicians around us, and especially something about ourselves as well.
Our job as teachers and performers carry a big responsibilty as we are, in a way, role models for future musicians so I always have that in mind. The best part is that I don't look at it as a job at all as I enjoy doing what I do and would not trade it for anything. The best feeling in the world is when a concert or a workshop goes well and when you manage to spark some interest in a student.
Learn guitar or ukulele with me at Planet drum, or online.
Chick Corea interview
Chick Corea, who has died aged 79, was a playfully prodigious jazz piano improviser, a versatile composer and a pioneer of 1970s jazz-rock fusion
He was also an accomplished jazz drummer. Many iconic drummers such as Roy Haynes, Airto, Lenny White, Steve Gadd, Dave Weckl and Marcus Gilmore collaborated with him.
SOURCE: All About Jazz
Who are some of the jazz musicians and classical composers who have influenced your work?
The list is very long. In a general but true sense, it’s every composer, musician and piece of music that in some way caught my attention to teach me or inspire me. There is a shorter but still long list of the artists that have continually inspired me through the years, but this list is also too long for an interview. Let me try the short short list of those whose music is currently part of my active musical life: John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Henri Dutilleux, Thelonious Monk, Domenico Scarlatti and Alexander Scriabin.
Could you tell us something about your early training as a musician?
My father, Armando, was my guide into the music world. He and the musicians in his bands were a relaxed and fun group and I wanted to join them and play music with them from when I was a tot. My father taught me to read music and play some tunes on the piano. He also introduced me to the recorded music of Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell and many more in the ’40s by constantly playing his 78 rpm discs of these great musicians. I was enthralled and wanted to play all those notes immediately but couldn’t approach the fast bebop just yet. But in the early ’50s I came across Horace Silver’s music and began to copy his songs and piano solos from his recordings. That was a great school for me. I also played a lot of dance and wedding gigs with my father where I learned many of the standard songs that, interestingly enough, are still popular today.
Your father was a musician. Did this inspire you to pursue music as a career?
My father and my mother, Anna, both encouraged and helped me to pursue music because they saw that I loved it. That was the best career encouragement I ever got. My mother packed chocolates for Schrafft’s Candy Company in Boston for years and saved the money to but me a Steinway baby grand when I turned 16. They were the best parents one could imagine having.
When did you meet Miles Davis and could you tell us about your work with him in the early 1970’s?
I first met Miles when he came to sit in at Minton’s on a 6-week stint I was on with the “Sister Sadie All Stars” – which was basically Horace Silver’s quintet without Horace. Blue Mitchell was the leader with Junior Cook, Gene Taylor and Roy Brooks. Miles came and sat in one night playing Blue’s horn. He played like the god I knew he was and then came by the piano on his way off the band stand to whisper in my ear the cryptic question “Was I playing the right changes?” Of course, he was putting me on – but it was friendly. Then Tony Williams called me and said Miles wanted me to come and play with the band in Baltimore. I called Miles and asked him of there wasgoing to be a rehearsal – and he said “No, just play what you hear.” That set the stage for 2 years of some of the most exciting “free” music I ever played – together with Wayne Shorter, Tony Williams and Dave Holland – then, after 6 months, Jack DeJohnette came on for the rest of the time.
Miles was relentlessly experimenting the whole 2 years I was in the band – trying different approaches – always working everything out on the gig. There were never any rehearsals.
After only a few months, Miles directed me towards this electric piano he had rented – and after that night, I never played the acoustic piano again with Miles. He seemed to be searching for a sound and a new way of expression and the electric piano was part of what he was envisioning. Of course, it’s history now how that slowly developed into all the groove and electric oriented music he was to make in years to come. But at the time Miles was leaning towards rock and pop, Dave Holland and I were leaning more and more towards free improvisation and so we together left the band to form our own group, Circle. Miles was a true freedom fighter. He taught me to stay true to my own vision no matter what.
How did you get interested in composing fusion jazz? Are there any rock music artists that you admire?
Hearing John McLaughlin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra in ’72 was inspiring to me. I had never heard a guitar played that way. The impact of emotion was tremendous. As a composer I wanted to write for a sound like that – and shortly after that, Stanley CLarke and I found Bill Connors in San Francisco, resulting in the electric version of Return To Forever.
I wasn’t listening to rock music in the 60’s – I was listening to Coltrane, Miles and Monk, as well as Stravinsky and Bartok. But Stevie Wonder really caught my attention and has held it all these years. His music has always transcended any style and he was my model as a songwriter.
When did you meet John McLaughlin and could you tell us about your collaborations with him. Did both of you agree on the direction of the music?
I met John when he first came to work in the US with the Tony Williams band. We became instant friends and have remained so through the years. Our recent project the “Five Peace Band” was a great joy. Since I first heard John and played with him, I always wanted to have a band with him, and last year, this dream was realized. Both of us wrote the music and there was an easy agreement about the direction of the music, both of us sharing very similar tastes in music.
What lies in the future for jazz?
Your guess is as good as mine. I think there’s never a problem with the musicians – their desire, abilities and creativity. The problem is always calming and making more ethical the world around us.
Could you tell us about your latest work?
I’m always working towards perfecting and improving my abilities. I like to be a student and learn. I’m currently working on new composing techniques — ways to get my thoughts down and captured in more efficient ways. I’m working on new ways to capture my flow of
improvisation and make certain parts of it into compositions that will be able to be played again and again.
What lies in the future for yourself and is there always a need to look for new sounds in jazz-from avante garde and free jazz to fusion etc.?
Creating music and touring and playing for people everywhere is the greatest joy I know. So that is and has always been my goal and future – to continue to make new music and spark imaginations wherever and whenever I can.
Planet drum teacher, Radovan
shares his experience of his latest studio session at Wax Studios.
'This is an upcoming debut EP of my good friend Severin Bruhin who is a multi-instrumentalist, composer and arranger from Switzerland. His music is in the realm of jazz/fusion mixed with neo-soul, hip-hop and more. The project features quite a few international session musicians, vocalists and artists including a successful Canadian-born producer Robert Strauss (studio owner).'
You can watch their experience below:
At Planet Drum, we always like to encourage our students
to play with other people as much as possible. That’s why we have been doing our band workshops for several years now and those sessions are enjoyed by our students and our teachers alike. There is something special about different people gathering in a room and creating music together, it’s like giving birth to a new spirit or new being that otherwise wouldn’t be possible to create.
In order to enjoy playing with other people at any occasion and to benefit most from it, there are some things we can do and pay attention to, in order to make it smoother, more musical and enjoyable for ourselves and everyone else.
the most important thing whether you play music on your own or with other people. Music is a language and you communicate with other musicians by listening to them. So many times great sessions are ruined by a musician focusing on his own instrument and not listening to what’s going on in the band. Remember, everyone in the band is there for the music and not for their own individual’s sake. So, if you feel there should be more dynamics involved, or you should play quieter, louder, or maybe even stop playing at all at some point, always be aware of what’s going on in the song. If you are not sure what you need to do, keep your eyes open as well as ears. By watching other band members, you’ll be safe and aware when to change gears during a song.
2. Respecting the soloist
Let’s say you play in a rhythm section (drums, bass, guitar, piano…) and someone is soloing. Don’t ever force them into your own rhythmic/harmonic/dynamic variations - listen to them instead and just follow what they do - it’s their role to lead you and not vice versa.
3. Respecting the style
If you happen to play a song in a blues/jazz style, don’t try to play your heavy metal licks or double kick rolls over the song. It just doesn’t fit there. If you are not familiar with the style, just be as simplistic as possible and it will all be ok!
4. Don't overplay
Less is more, most of the time. Especially if you are a drummer. Nobody cares about drum fills every 2 bars, or every 4 bars, or sometimes even 32 bars. Same for guitarists, if there is a space for your solo in the song, that’s fantastic. Otherwise, the less, the better. Again, it’s all based on listening, being familiar with the style and the song.
5. Don't be afraid or ashamed if you are a beginner
Nobody will judge you, we are all here to learn and communicate through music. As already said above, even if you know only one rhythm or a couple of notes on the bass guitar, good musicians will know how to make the best use of your skills.
6. Don't be crushed by your own mistakes
If you make a mistake, make a mental note and just continue playing, but remember it and work on it later. Again nobody will judge you. The worst thing you can do is stop because you made a mistake. It’s not a big deal, it’s human!
There is always something to learn at any band session because it’s not just music, it’s the exchange of people’s energies when we play together. Even one song can sound different every time. That’s why we are keeping the band music alive at Planet Drum. We can’t wait to go back to our regular sessions hopefully once the lockdown is over. In the meantime, keep practicing your instruments!
Planet drum guitar teacher, Vladimir
Well, if you want to get in a band, VERY.
When you hear a band live and they have a really rounded and full sound, the chances are they’ve got at least two backing vocalists. With budgets getting tighter by the minute, the best way to achieve this is with musicians who can sing.
A lot of my students are instrumentalists who are a bit shy when it comes to their vocals. Like any other instrument, singing well involves good technique and while nothing beats consistent practise, there are a few simple rules and tips that will really help you to feel confident when you open your mouth to vocalise. For example, being mindful of your vowels when you are struggling to reach a note.
Widening or narrowing vowels fixes a multitude of problemsand will usually go completely unnoticed within a song and allow you to stabilise your larynx. Shyness breeds flat notes, nasty tones and unintentional fall off.
Enjoy what you’re singing. Embrace it and make it free, but please remember, If you have any discomfort whatsoever you must always seek out a professional voice coach. Following exercises from a video or a blog is sufficient if you are performing them correctly, but an understanding of YOUR voice and YOUR areas of improvement is essential before undertaking any generic voice exercises.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.