Easiest Instruments to Learn for Adults & Children

Most parents are aware that certain activities are incredibly beneficial to growing children. We always want our kids to have the best possible advantages in life, so we try to make sure they have access to these things.

We know that learning a second language is a must in the modern world; we know team sports help children develop coping skills and stay healthy. We also know that learning to play an instrument has untold benefits.

Studies have shown that learning a musical instrument can do everything from help relieve stress, to developing incredibly complex motor skills. Learning an instrument can even make your brain bigger. A study by Harvard University in 2003 found that the brains of musicians had more grey matter in them.

So we know that playing an instrument is good for our kids, but nobody really wants it to be hard for them.

I mean, sure, we’d all love our kids to be amazing at the violin; but not every kid is going to want to start learning an instrument at the age of four. Also, not every parent has the emotional stamina to put up with the years it will take for the sounds of a dying cat to eventually become music.

So what instrument should you pick?

  • Well, firstly, it helps if you make sure it’s an instrument that your child actually has an interest in.
  • Secondly, there are some instruments that are considered easier to learn than others.

Top Easiest Instruments to Learn Review

If you’ve been thinking of picking up an instrument to learn but you’re hesitating because you’re worried it will be too challenging, there’s good news. Learning a new instrument doesn’t have to be difficult!

Even if you’re brand new to music and you’ve never even bashed a tambourine or had a good shake on some maracas, there are plenty of easy-to-learn instruments that you can pick up relatively quickly.

Whether you’re a complete beginner or someone who’s looking to switch instruments, you’re bound to find that is perfect for you. Below we’ve compiled a list easiest musical instruments to learn.

1. Ukulele

Overall Easiest Instrument to Learn for Everyone

One of the easiest instruments to learn is the ukelele. This instrument looks like a tiny version of the guitar and has 4 strings to the guitar’s 6 strings, making it much less complicated to learn to play.

The ukelele is an ideal instrument if you’re looking to learn the basics of guitar, but want an easier transition into the music world. A lot of the skills and techniques you learn on the ukelele can easily be transferred later to the guitar.

Because there are only four strings, the scales and chord shapes you play on the ukelele are quick to pick up, making it relatively easy to learn songs quickly.

If you have small hands, a soprano or concert ukulele will be perfect for you because you don’t have to stretch your fingers to reach all of the strings and its short neck means all the notes are closer together, one of the reasons it’s the easiest instrument to learn for a child.

The initial learning process is also slightly less painful than the guitar as the strings on the ukelele are softer and don’t cause calluses or pain in your fingertips like guitar strings do.

One of the other great things about learning to play the ukulele is that it can be a fairly inexpensive option, with plenty of choices under the $100 mark.

Finally, the size and portability of the ukulele means you can take it anywhere to practice, so you don’t have to annoy your roommates, although who doesn’t like the happy notes of a ukulele?

2. Harmonica

Easiest Instrument to Play

The best instrument to learn for all skill levels is probably the harmonica, especially for someone who’s just getting into music at a younger or older age.

Because the notes are built-in to the instrument, it’s quite difficult to hit a bad note and produce a bad sound!

This also makes it one of the easiest instruments to play!

Just like many of the instruments on this list, the harmonica is small, portable, and easy to take with you anywhere. There’s nothing worse than having to drag a bulky instrument case along with you.

I generally find that the easier an instrument is to practice, the more often you’ll do so and therefore the better you’ll become.

The basics of the harmonica involve breathing in and breathing out to create different sounds. The placement of the harmonica in your mouth and the position of your hands will influence the notes you make.

This is probably the easiest instrument to learn on my list and is just a lot of fun to play around with. Before you know it, you’ll have already mastered a handful of simple songs!

3. Cajon

Easiest Instrument to Learn on Your Own

The Cajon originated in Peru and is a very simple instrument. With a basic box shape that’s hollow on the inside, it acts in a similar way to a drum where you strike the surface in different locations to produce either high or low notes.

Cajon’s can be made from either solid wood or plywood such as birch. Modern versions of the Cajon have either strings or snares attached to the inside that produce different notes when you strike the playing surface.

This is a great instrument for beginners and very easy to pick up. Since this instrument is small, you can carry it around with you anywhere and its box shape makes it easily storable, unlike a standard drum kit.

Using different parts of your hands, palms, and fingertips you strike the surface to create your notes. If you strike the Cajon at the top with just your fingertips you’ll produce a high note, while if you strike with your palm lower down you’ll produce a bass note.

You can either create your own grooves and rhythms or you can master the notes and learn to play your favorite popular songs, the opportunities are endless!

4. Keyboard/Piano

Easiest Instrument to Learn for a Child

The electric keyboard and the piano are slightly different in terms of their range and number of keys. A standard piano has 88 keys whereas a keyboard may have as few as 49.

However, the arrangement of the keys on a keyboard is identical to the arrangement of the keys on a piano and the same with your hand and finger movements.

Therefore, you can easily transition from the keyboard to the piano or vice versa. The keyboard is usually a better option as they take up less room than an upright piano and are much less expensive.

To learn the piano or keyboard, you’ll need to first master the basics of music theory. The piano or keyboard makes it easy to learn the association between the notes that you read and the keys in front of you.

Plus, there are thousands of easy songs to learn, many of which you will already know from popular music culture, making the learning process even more fun. Whatever you decide, with both options you can teach yourself.

Although it is a great beginner instrument, there’s a lot of potential for growth and endless learning, like most musical instruments, they take a long time to master!

If you’re looking to learn a new instrument that is universally adored and endlessly rewarding, the keyboard or piano is a great option.

I taught myself the keyboard after being inspired by Ray Manzarek of the band The Doors, although I’m no master, it was a really rewarding process and something I’d recommend to anyone.

5. Acoustic Guitar

Easiest Instrument to Learn for Adults

Apart from the Cajon, the acoustic guitar is the easiest instrument to learn for adults. The reason I say, adults, is because children will find the size difficult to handle and would be much more suited to the smaller ukulele.

If you’re someone who picks up patterns easily, then the guitar will be an intuitive playing experience for you.

You have the choice of learning scales and technical exercises or jumping straight into chord progressions and your favorite songs that you want to learn to play.

Scales and music theory may seem boring at first but they help you master the basics of the guitar quicker than if you’re just memorizing chord progressions.

Guitars are generally better suited to people with longer fingers and wider hands, but don’t let that put you off, not all guitars are the same size and some will be easier to play than others if you have smaller hands.

The acoustic guitar is probably the easiest instrument to learn on your own, this is simply down to the number of resources available out there, the number of online courses and videos are endless!

6. Bass Guitar

Best Instrument to Learn for Joining a Band

If you’ve already learned to play the acoustic guitar, the bass guitar is a great addition to add to your quiver, the main difference being the bass guitar is tuned an octave lower than the acoustic.

They’re larger and heavier than an acoustic guitar and their strings are harder, making them more difficult to play if you’re a smaller person or a child.

If you’re smaller or a child but still want to learn some form of bass, maybe try the bass ukulele! Like the ukulele, the bass guitar only has four strings which makes it easier to learn the chords and notes for your favorite songs.

If you’re looking for an easy route into a band, the bass guitar is probably the best instrument to learn. Not only is it quite simple to learn simple rhythms and beats, but there are also always bands looking for a bass player!

7. Saxophone

Easiest Jazz Instrument to Learn

The saxophone is probably the easiest jazz instrument to learn. Although it can be quite difficult to master and play well, with a bit of practice it is a great beginner musical instrument.

One thing that makes it easier than other jazz instruments, say the trumpet, is that you don’t have to ‘hear the note’ to play it.

For the most part, on a saxophone, you essentially just finger the correct keys to play a note. Also, the embouchure or lipping of a trumpet is much more difficult than that of a saxophone.

You should aim to practice for a half-hour every day when you begin with this instrument. This isn’t a ton of time and most of us can easily set aside a half-hour for practice.

When you do master the saxophone, you’ll be rewarded with a wide range of songs and solos that you can play to an appreciative audience, who doesn’t love the sound of a good saxophone?

8. Drums

Best Instrument to Learn to Annoy Your Neighbors

Drums are one of the most commonly known and popular percussion instruments. This is because they’re a fun instrument to learn, especially for your neighbors!

Depending on your natural music ability, it’s not unheard of to be playing along to simple popular songs within a few hours. The drums reward you with quick results.

Not everyone is suited for percussion instruments, however, but you probably know already if you are.

If you ever find yourself drumming on your legs to a rhythm in your head or on the steering wheel alongside the radio as you drive, then chances are, you’re rhythmically inclined and you’ll pick up the drums in no time.

That being said, they’re one of the harder instruments to truly master. This means that you need to put in practice if you want to become an expert at them.

There’s a lot of room for growth with the drums and if you fall in love with this instrument, the sky’s the limit for how much you can learn and how far you can take this instrument.

9. Tin Whistle

Easiest Woodwind Instrument to Learn

Despite its name, the tin whistle is a member of the woodwind family of instruments. You may have heard their haunting melodies in Celtic and Irish folk music.

They’re a long, slim instrument with 6 holes that you cover up to change notes. At a glance, you might confuse them with a recorder!

Learning the proper tonguing and learning how hard to blow on the whistle can take a bit of practice, but the fingering technique can be picked up fairly quickly.

There’s a wide variety of changes that you can make to your playing technique after you’ve mastered the basics to enjoy this instrument’s versatility.

Little tricks such as covering the bottom of the whistle slightly or blowing a little harder can change the notes and octave that you can reach.

10. Flute

The Hardest “Easy” Instrument to Learn

The flute is a member of the woodwind family, like the tin whistle. It may seem like a difficult instrument to learn, but the basics of the flute are not all that challenging.

The average beginner that has no history with music can learn the basic notes fairly quickly, although to progress past the beginner level, it can take around 3 years to get a good understanding of it.

Like a lot of the other instruments on the list, after you’ve mastered the basics, the flute gives you plenty of room to grow into a true master of the instrument. And certainly not an instrument you’ll outgrow quickly.

Initially, the most difficult part of learning the flute is learning to breathe correctly. The note placement is not overly hard and can be picked up quickly; however, you might find yourself out of breath when you first start playing.

The more you practice, the better your breathing will become and the more clear your notes will sound.

11. The Harp

This is probably the one instrument you wouldn’t have imagined seeing on a list of those that are the easiest to learn.

When most people think of the harp, they probably imagine it’s an incredibly complex instrument that takes years to master, and that’s why we tend to only see it in the ballrooms of mansions or at celebrity weddings.

The reality is that the harp is actually one of the easiest string instruments to learn. People have been playing the harp for thousands of years, long before there was any solid framework for learning musical instruments. Harps can come in a variety of sizes. For example, a Celtic harp can be small enough to sit in your lap.

The harp is much easier to learn than something like the violin because there’s no bowing or frets. You simply pluck the string, and that gives you the note. Harps are an incredibly accessible instrument that creates an ethereal sound and can be an excellent first choice for someone wanting a musical education.

12. DJ Controller

This probably isn’t the instrument that immediately comes to mind when it comes to easy learning, but it is actually an incredibly simple and effective tool to learn music.

DJ controllers exist across a broad range of markets. There are expensive models designed for professional DJs, but there are also controllers made especially for home or learning use.

Learning to use a DJ controller is a very fun and modern approach to musical education. You might not think it, but there’s actually a great deal of musical theory that goes into blasting a good DJ set.

Kids who learn to use a DJ controller will develop a keen sense of rhythm, tempo, pitch and what sounds work well together. It also helps them to understand how songs are structured and gives them an incredible outlet for creativity.

If you’re not sure about buying a DJ controller, you can even just start small on a computer or iPad.

There are programs like Garageband that come with libraries of loops and sounds that will enable your child to create songs and learn about music production in no time. There are other apps that can give your child some experience in playing with a DJ.

For example, Mussila App combines the structure of music theory with play in an interactive game environment. Students play while they learn and also have the freedom to create and express themselves.

One of the best things about the Mussila app is that it functions like a game. When kids are using Mussila, they can do it without help from their parents.

This is a lifeline, because let’s face it, we all want to be there for our kids, but sometimes it would be nice if they could have an interest or hobby that allows us an hour or so to watch netflix.

If you have a budding DJ in the family, Mussila DJ also has you covered. Mussila DJ lets kids create their own musical compositions or even remix songs.

So if you aren’t completely sure where to start, or just want to take advantage of an interactive learning tool, check out Mussila today. Mussila is a piece of screen time you can be sure will be beneficial for your child’s musical learning.

13. Castanets

Castanets are a small set of inexpensive wooden percussion instruments. Most people associate them with Spanish flamenco dance. However, they are used in the music from quite a few other European countries, like Italy, Portugal and Switzerland.

If you have ever heard the famous song ‘Under the Boardwalk’ by The Drifters, castanets can be heard in the instrumental break, blissfully clapping along to the beat.

The castanets are very easy to play. They attach to the thumbs and fingers, and the opening and closing of the hand makes their rhythmic clicking sound.

They’re an excellent instrument to help a child develop their hand-eye coordination as well as their fine motor skills.

14. Tambourine

The tambourine is often an overlooked instrument. It’s a simple instrument that is also incredibly versatile.

There are a few different kinds of tambourines, but they all have a similar basic structure. They’re round, easy to hold and have small cymbals built into them called ‘jingles.’

The tambourine player can make lots of different sounds depending on whether they shake or hit it.

The tambourine is excellent for teaching the elements of basic percussion. The best part of this simple instrument is that it can accompany just about anything. A child with a tambourine could play along to someone on a guitar or even just explore the sounds it can make while listening to their favourite song on the radio.

15. Bongos

In pop culture, most people might think of bongo drums as the kind of instrument that would accompany a beat poet or something that might play in the background of an odd alternative theatre piece.

Bongos are actually a very old and mysterious instrument. Nobody is really sure exactly where they came from, but the first recorded uses were by Afro-Cubans in the late 19th century.

Bongos are made of two small open bottomed drums that are connected together. They have a larger and smaller drum. In Spanish the larger drum is called Hembra (female), and the smaller is Macho (male). Each drum has a different kind of sound, the Hembra has a lower tone, and the Macho is higher.

Bongos are a great instrument to teach rhythm and basic percussion. They are also inexpensive and very portable. Bongos also aren’t terribly loud, so they’re a great instrument that your child can play almost any time of the day.


Learning to play music doesn’t have to be overly challenging or a painful experience. If you’re a beginner that’s looking to start playing, you can’t go wrong with any of the above from my easiest instrument to learn list!

It doesn’t matter if you’re a child or an adult, anyone can learn the basics of the above instruments in a relatively short period of time. Just remember to truly master any instrument, it takes a lot of dedication, but everyone has to start somewhere!

Also, this should be a fun and pleasurable process, if you’re struggling to decide on the best instrument to learn for yourself, ask yourself what kind of music you like and the instruments you enjoy listening to, and go from there!

FAQ for Easiest Instruments to Learn

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