[Dixielandjazz] Re: QUESTION

JBruno868 at aol.com JBruno868 at aol.com
Mon Feb 24 16:28:49 PST 2003

I posed this question to my good friend Larry Wright who plays almost every 
instrument better than most. Here are his answers.



<< What is the easiest to learn to play?....This requires a bunch of
qualifiers.  If you are a kidlet, ease doesn't really figure into it --
they'll just learn without thinking.  If you're talking about an old
horse learning new tricks, their willingness to work at it is important
(as evidenced by the number of folk I've taught who've never moved past
the first lessons).

Basically there are lots of instruments that are easy to play, difficult
to learn;

Drums.  You hit a drum with a stick and you're playing.  Whether you can
keep a beat is another matter.

Banjo: It's like a ukulele; four strings that fit easily into one hand. 
Anyone can figure out three chords to accompany singing.  Again, to keep
time, to master strumming and fingering, these are difficult.

Saxophone.  The fingering is symmetrical -- it's the same for the two
main octaves. It makes sense, especially compared to the clarinet.  Easy
to play, difficult to master.

Piano; Again, anyone can pick out a melody with one finger.  It provides
the sound.

Then there are instruments that take getting used to before you can even
produce notes;

Trumpet, violin, tuba, string bass.  

The trombone is a weird monkey -- to play notes going up, you slide up --
to play going down, you slide up -- kind of like government work.

The trombone, violin and string bass require a good ear and lots of hand
memorization, for they have no definitive pitch devices, that is, they
slide are each note.  That's why violins can sound like cats in hell.

It's also good to remember that there is no "easy" for many of these
because one has to maintain after one learns, such as keeping up one's
lip, for example.  Every instrument has a tradeoff in this regard --
those easier to maintain don't have much volume, are difficult to carry,

So, it's really best to consider that you can't really learn to play any
instrument, go into aluminum siding sales, and pay to hear those
unfortunates who don't take this advice. >>

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