Five tips for learning a new instrument this year

Does your list of resolutions always include music lessons? And is it like that gym membership you bought and used … once? Here are five ways to help you stick with learning an instrument. 

  1. Choose an instrument that’s accessible

multi neck guitarCertainly not this one. The most popular instrument I teach is the guitar – it’s versatile, portable, and with a little practice you can play favorite songs. Ukulele is even easier and is less of a financial investment. In the states and Canada, you can buy a decent one for less than $100.

If you’d like advice on what instrument to choose, this handy video will help you:


  1. Find a good instructional site or live teacher

I teach in Ottawa (Canada) and via Skype. Contact me here. More about Skype lessons here.

If you’re self-motivated, try the Heartwood Guitar site. There’s lots of free tab and even strum suggestions for some songs. He’s a guitar teacher so the tabs are accurate, unlike many other sites.

If videos are more your style, check out my instructional videos. This one is for the ukulele and it’s great for beginners because it’s a song with only two chords:

If you already play the guitar, mandolin or ukulele and are looking for strum patterns, this video will help you:


Justin Guitar is also a great site and it includes some free instruction.

I love Homespun Tapes. You have to pay for most of what they have but it’s quality instruction offered by experienced players and teachers, on a variety of instruments.

Jamplay is great for guitarists, especially for rockers. (Full disclosure – I’ve written a couple of blog posts for them.)

  1. Practice

You won’t become Clapton because you have a vintage Strat. It’s all about the practice, babe. Play a little every day, even if it’s only 15 minutes. If you don’t have 15-30 minutes a day for practice, don’t waste money on an instrument or lessons. I can’t tell you how many students call me in January, take a few lessons, then they decide they don’t have time. Find practice tips here.

  1. Jam

jamIf you already play, look for jams and they’ll help you learn. Don’t worry about your level. Find a jam that’s just for beginners or one where you can softly play in the background. More about jamming here.

Maybe there’s a friend who plays that you can get together with? Or put a notice on Craig’s List or Kijiji and start your own jam.

BTW, there are lots of jams for ukulele players. Google “ukulele jam” and your city and you’ll probably find more than one. Many cater to beginners and they’re more fun than a pile of bubble wrap.

  1. Have fun

funThis is the most important. If you’re not having fun, it ain’t worth it. Keep your expectations humble, be patient, and if you need Skype lessons, give me a shout. Contact me here.

Need more playing tips? Find lots of them on this blog, for guitar, ukulele, mandolin and songwriters (who use any instrument).

Now go play music. I guarantee it’s a lot more fun than that gym you’re thinking of joining.


About jamiebobamie

Musician - teacher - writer - gets bored easily. I write an almost-weekly blog that includes true stories gathered from 20-plus years of touring, how-to articles for musicians and profiles of performers. Also, I love dark chocolate, I can play "Brown Eyed Girl" behind my head, and I twirl the baton badly.
This entry was posted in Music instruction, music lessons, Playing the guitar, Playing the ukulele and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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