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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and we can help you get booked in.
Planet drum admin & singing teacher
My name is Nicholas Sentongo and I am a director at a company called Fixnrev Mechanics in Uganda. Having lived in Uganda for a year and a half, I travelled the country mainly for work but have really seen the suffering of people, especially young teenagers and children.
I felt I had the opportunity to give back. There are several ways in which we as a company are supporting local charities and the main charity we support is an orphanage called “oasis of life” based in Kampala, Uganda (please see our charity page on our company website.
I got the inspiration to build a music school
to help provide music skills that will empower children and those less privileged thereby taking them out of poverty. I however didn’t have all the funding to acquire music instruments and to complete the construction works.
I then reached out to several organisations, music schools to help donate any music instruments, furniture etc.
We are pleased to say that planet drum came through to our support. They provided a variety of music equipment like drum sets, music speakers, guitars, sound proofing equipment, cabling and a lot more other music equipment.
We can’t thank them enough for their generosity. This will go a long way in helping us achieve that dream of facilitating the music school and we are so grateful for their support.
Blog post by Nicholas Sentongo
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
Behind the Beat Podcast
We are excited to announce the launch of our brand new podcast ‘Behind the Beat Podcast’. Join me, Katy Russell, as we speak to some very special guests and leading industry experts about all things music!
What is the podcast about?
The podcast is an interview format where we will be speaking to professional musicians, teachers, exam boards, producers, music production experts, drum collectors and the list goes on! We will be talking openly about their experiences, stories, as well as dishing out tips and advice for budding musicians.
Who are the hosts?
Katy Russell, planet drum singing teacher, will be hosting the podcast and she will be occasionally joined by the Planet drum founder Alain Maurel. Between the two they have countless stories and experiences to share.
Where can I listen to the podcast?
You can listen to the podcast on Podbean, and also on our YouTube channel! Go and check out the first 2 episodes now, and our 3rd episode is launching on Monday with special guest and drummer, Robert Castelli.
Hi Alain, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into playing drums?
I started playing piano as a kid but switched to drums age 17. I thought drums and drum lessons were easier, which is maybe true at the very beginning, but really they're a lot of work!
What made you want to go into teaching?
I started teaching drum lessons professionally after completing a CTMA music teaching course in Goldsmith college many years ago. Teaching drums was always a lot of fun for me, and a good way to supplement my income between recordings and tours.
Who is your biggest musical inspiration and why?
My main inspirations are John Coltrane, early blues and Bob Marley for the soul in their music. The Beatles are a great inspiration for the wonderful songwriting. Traditional percussion music is also very important because rhythm is where all music comes from.
What is your favourite style to play?
I love Jazz, Latin, and African styles mostly.
I have been informed that you have a drum book coming out! Can you tell us what people can expect from this book?
Yes, I've been writing the new drum book for two years now. It is a synthesis of all the teachings I've received and transmitted since I started playing. The book incorporates snare drum technique and coordination studies as well as play alongs in all styles, with over 100 audio tracks! My friend Mark Fletcher is a featured guest drummer in the second part of the book.
What made you decide to write this drum book?
When teaching, I've always been using a multitude of books with my students, and I really wanted to condense all this important information into one book.
When can people expect to buy your book/when roughly can we get our hands on it?
Expect to be able to buy the drum book by late 2021 or early 2022.
Finally, what advice would you give to students just starting to learn the drums/students who want to start to learn drums?
Get yourself a good drum teacher you have a good relationship with, and listen to as much music as possible. Go to gigs, learn the history of drumming, and ... practice!
It’s all too easy to get bogged down in music theory and lesson material when you’re doing your grades.
And when you’ve managed to somehow successfully make it through one grade, you start work on the next one only to find it all gets even harder, more complex and in time signatures you never knew were possible.
At times you wonder how you’re ever going to fit all this new information in your head, and when your limbs will be able to naturally jump into action to play these complex rhythms without having to “think about it” for ten minutes.
Every drummer has their own way of learning. Some like to be very rigid with their practice sessions, some are determine to play the same rudiment over and over for an hour until it becomes muscle memory, and others find short bursts of multiple exercises work best.
Whatever way you prefer, I’m sure you’ve had a moment here are there where you’ve hit a wall and felt like you’ll never be able to play the piece of music sitting in front of you well enough to pass your grade.
I’ve had it plenty of times, and I’ve come to accept that I probably always will. But I’ve recently found that the best way I can help myself get past that barrier is to take a little time out to just have fun.
You’re playing the drums because you want to. You decided to have lessons because you enjoy playing the instrument – that's what I remind myself of.
There are many moments I can think back to where I sat down at a kit and just had an amazing time playing. But sometimes, when you’re too focused on learning, you forget to spend time just enjoying the act of drumming.
It sounds incredibly obvious, but in between work, home life and your lessons, it can sometimes be far too easy to slip into the habit of only finding time for drumming when you’re practicing for your grades or your next lesson.
Personally, I stick on a couple of my favourite tracks from when I first started playing the drums and pretend I’m 17 again!
Laura Barnes - Planet drum student
Drum tips for beginner drummers
Always go into a practice session with a plan
Practicing is the key to improving your drum skills, but it is important to pre-plan what you are going to practice. Making time to practice is hard enough in everybody's busy day-to-day lives. Pre-thinking about what you will recap and study will help to maximize and get the most out of your practice session, even if it is only 10 or 15 minutes!
Practice with a metronome
There is a common misconception that having a steady pulse and solid sense of time is something that’s innate and can’t be taught. This is of course absolutely not true, and while some people do have a more natural sense of pulse than others, time is something that everybody should devote a large portion of time to practicing, no matter how natural a player they might be.
Go back to basics
Drummers often try to run before they can walk, which can lead to bad habits and gaps appearing in ability. Mastering the drumming basics is the best way to build a solid foundation upon which to develop your playing. We recommend focussing at least some of your practice time on improving single and double strokes, and polishing key rudiments like the paradiddle and five-stroke roll. Once you can execute these drumming fundamentals with consistency, dynamics and solid time, you will be fully prepared to take your playing to the next level.
Play with Other People
Despite the fact that there are tons of videos of drummers alone in their practice rooms on the internet, you should go find some like-minded people to play music with. Music is a team sport for the most part, and you’ll learn a lot by getting yourself into bands early on in your development. Don’t skip this step; it’s crucial.
Look for role models
They will shape your playing, as their drumming style and ability level helps you to measure progress in your own performance. If you need some inspiration, you can check out our Legendary Drummers playlist on YouTube.
Don’t Hold Your Drum Sticks Too Tight
The most common and grip technique is called ‘matched grip,’ and this is what I teach to my students. You will use your left and right hands to hold the drum sticks in the same way. The main area of grip is between the thumb and the second knuckle of the index finger, and the remaining fingers wrap around the stick.It’s key that you don’t hold the drum sticks too tight. The drum sticks should be allowed to bounce after striking a drum head, and this rebound will help you out significantly to achieve fast speeds. This rebound is a pivotal part of drumming and becomes a large part of your ‘playing feel’ as you develop as a drummer. You will naturally learn to feel when to begin the motion of striking a drum head and anticipate the rebound.
Realize that skill takes a long time to build. Becoming a great musician can take years. Be patient, do the work and you’ll become good. Focused practice under good guidance will take you there.
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:
“Improvisation is too good to leave to chance” - Paul Simon
To say “I’m practicing improvisation” sounds like an oxymoron, but in fact a lot of preparation is required in order to improvise well. And by preparation, I don’t mean memorising a bank of perfectly formed riffs and fills that can be retrieved at random whenever someone points and shouts “drum solo!” - I mean getting comprehensively familiar with patterns, variations on those patterns and variations on ways in which those patterns and their variations can be applied to the kit and to the music.
When I started playing the drums, almost two years ago, I thought that I always needed a kit to be able to do meaningful practice, but recently - and following the wisdom of my tutors - I’ve realised that a lot of what I’m doing is actually just learning how to count, but using my whole body.
I’ve realised that it’s entirely possible to develop independence, coordination and the ability to count with each of my limbs (and my voice), using nothing but my body. And, I’m not for one moment discounting the importance of practicing stick and leg technique, for which you obviously DO need some sort of physical resistance from a practice pad, or pedals.
I’m just talking about the daily brain workout that (will hopefully) lead to becoming a thoughtful and creative improviser. I’m not there yet and I’m sure I’m not the only drummer who can say that I know how I want to sound, but the reality of what comes out of my sticks doesn’t quite live up to the dream…. Yet.
My current practice regime
involves sitting with a metronome, Ted Reed’s syncopation book and a whole load of patience, to go through each of the patterns, page by page, playing each pattern on different limbs, with the metronome on different beats, using different ostinato patterns, playing it straight, playing it swung etc…
Essentially playing the same thing in as many different ways as possible, until my brain becomes comfortable enough to enable each of my limbs to count their own way through the piece, with my voice keeping track of the base pulse and time signature.
Though, this alone isn’t going to make me a great improviser. I’m not practicing this stuff absent mindedly - I’m also trying to use these exercises to develop ideas, which I can only try out on a kit and with a band, in the moment.
The development of ideas and the application of these ideas to create something musical and interesting, is the real goal here - not the mental endurance test that I set myself (most days) with Ted Reed and the metronome. I’ve not been playing for long enough to know whether this is all going to pay off, but my tutors reassure me that it will and I trust them...
So to reiterate; the future is uncertain and no one is totally in control of the type of drummer that they will become, but it seems that it is possible to increase the chances of becoming an inventive improviser through… PRACTICE.
Planet drum student
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.