11 Hardest Instruments to Learn

11 Hardest Instruments To Learn

Playing a musical instrument is not only fun, but can be great for your overall well-being, too – helping improve memory, increasing blood flow to the brain, and slowing down aging.

If you have decided to pursue music as a hobby or passion, the first and the important problem you face is trying to choose which instrument to focus on.

While it is true that it takes dedication and persistence to master any musical instrument, some require more effort to learn than others.

It’s useful to know exactly what type of challenge you are up against when selecting an instrument.

In this list, we break down the 11 hardest instruments to learn and master.

The Hardest Instruments to Learn

#11 Drums


Sure, drums may be relatively easy to get into but mastering anything over the basics can be quite a challenge.

For one, you need tons of practice to get the beat right.

Keeping sustained sync between the beat and the hits is almost impossible for a newbie, and only through experience can you become proficient in getting the timing, accents, and taps right.

Then there is the further difficulty of maintaining upper and lower body coordination, as well as being able to mentally separate the movement of each limb while you play the drums.

Just try moving your arm clockwise and your same-sided leg anti-clockwise to see what we mean. Additionally, you may also need to build up strength and control in your wrists.

#10 Bagpipes


What makes bagpipes among the hardest instruments to learn is not that it is a complex instrument, but rather, how much strength is needed just to get adequate sound out of it.

Playing the bagpipes requires strong lungs and plenty of stamina, which can make it really frustrating for many who are new to playing the instrument.

Additionally, you need to master good breath control so you are able to play for more than a few minutes. This obviously takes time and can add to the frustration.

#9 Accordion


With both a keyboard and a bellows which you use to manipulate the sound, an accordion is an obvious mention on our list. Playing it properly requires you to be particularly skilled multi-tasker.

Not only will you need to hone the muscle memory in your fingers to play the keyboard properly, but also develop the skill to work the bellows for getting the output tone just right.

Trying to coordinate both hands independently can be a major challenge in itself.

However, being such a unique instrument musical instrument, once you do master it, you are sure to be the highlight of any event that you play it at.

#8 Classical Guitar


It may come as a bit of a surprise to see this on the list; after all, this is an instrument that many youngsters aim at learning.

However, not to confuse it for its modern acoustic and rock counterparts, the learning curve for this instrument is far higher.

Classical guitar models tend to smaller and fitted with nylon strings instead of metal. The music they produce tends to be softer, clearer, and more expressive.

Mastering it requires lots of patience and discipline. Fingering on the left-hand can be hard to get right, especially for two or three-note pieces.

Getting the sound right requires superb right-hand technique as well as excellent sight-reading.

#7 French Horn


The French horn is one of the hardest, if not the hardest, brass instruments to learn and master.

Because it plays on higher partials than other instruments, the risk of hitting the wrong part and lip-misplacement is far higher.

The shape of the instrument also makes it quite awkward to hold, and working the keys located in the middle can be bothersome.

And, because the tube of the French horn is so long and big, building up adequate lung strength is also a difficult requirement to meet.

This coupled with the fact that it is a fairly weighty instrument, means that playing it for an extended period of time can be exhausting.

#6 Classical Piano


The classical piano is the epitome of multi-tasking.

It requires you to move both of your hands independently of each other on the keyword, while your sight has to be focused on the sheet music.

Many musical instruments require you to read only one bar line, but with the piano, you need to read two.

You also need to time the keys right to produce a proper melody and have to use your feet to operate the pedals. On top of that, all of these have to be done simultaneously.

#5 Harp


The harp is another difficulty to learn a musical instrument that requires you to be an absolute pro at multitasking.

Not only do you have to familiarize yourself with the notes of each of its 47 strings, but also learn the proper hand position and finger techniques to get the right sound.

Simultaneously to that, you need to master how to operate the pedals with your feet for adjusting the note levels, which, depending on the tone, would have to be switched several times during play.

And, just as with the piano, a good sense of timing and proper coordination is also important.

Therefore, honing your muscle memory is essential to mastering this beautiful instrument. 

#4 Organ


Picture all the difficulties associated with learning a classical piano, and now add divisions to the instrument, each division accompanied by its own keyboard.

Familiarizing the notes on all these keys can be arduous.

A lack of sustain pedals further adds to the difficulty as it means the player has to hold the note longer or else it quits playing then and there.

#3 Oboe


An oboe is a type of woodwind instrument known for the clear and penetrating sound it produces that some describe as distinctively bright.

Producing a sustained note requires you to learn proper breath control and lip placement over the mouthpiece.

Then there is also the challenge of mastering the right finger positions and switching techniques to avoid monotony in tunes.

Mastering all this isn’t easy and you will need to practice a lot before you can expect a degree of proficiency with the instrument.

#2 Cello

Cello Instrument

This majestic instrument is as much known for its difficulty as the delightful and dramatic sound it produces.

Being such a large instrument, players can find it hard to reach and shift through every note on the instrument with their fingers.

Its hefty weight may also pose a problem for some people and make a long session of playing it an exhaustive experience.

Nonetheless, once you do manage to master the cello, you are rewarded with a melody that few other instruments can match in depth and weight.

#1 Violin

Violin Instruments

The Violin, also known as the fiddle, arguably bears the title for being the hardest instrument to learn.

Many professional violin players you tend to see started spent many years learning the instrument and probably started doing so at a very young age.

While the instrument only has four strings, a lack of a fret makes proper finger positioning a real challenge and only through lots of trial and error does one manage to get it right.

Second is mastering the bowing technique, which even in people who have played the violin for years to be lacking in precision.

And then, there is the task of perfecting your posture while you hold the instrument which isn’t easily learned.

And of course, while trying to achieve all the above, some of your concentration also has to be allotted to sight-reading.

Concluding Note

Just because a musical instrument is hard to learn shouldn’t discourage you from playing it.

Sure, it will take time to properly master playing it but the end result would be well worth the investment.

Regardless of what age you are, if you are dedicated and passionate about the instrument, you can learn to play it really well – all that is required is lots of patience and practice. 

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