Asked • 03/15/19

What instrument can an old guy learn if the main goal is to write music?

At this old age I began, two years ago learning to write music. I write it using Sibelius and let the computer play it for me.I have been strongly recommended to learn to play an instrument. I have two connected questions.What instrument(s) would you recommend in my case. In my mind I imagine piano and violin are too difficult to begin this late. I suppose the instrument should at the same time be meaningful for music composition. My main purpose is to write music for me, but getting better at it is always good. Now, I don't exactly understand completely the process by which learning to play an instrument is so important for composing. I understand that knowing the sounds the different instruments can produce, the techniques to produce them, etc. is important. But I imagine that can be learned by listening to others play and reading about the techniques and listening to examples. So my second question is: Is is really that important to build the physical dexterity required to play an instrument for composing music? Or in other words. What aspects of knowing how to play an instrument are useful for composers that cannot be learned by seeing someone else play?

Alexa J.

I think guitar would be your best bet to learn later on, as there is a lot of coordination required to play piano. In my opinion, violin is also easier than piano because the bow moves back and forth to the rhythm and switches between 4 strings, and the fingering is typically just one finger, one position, and one string at a time for beginners. You can even learn everything in one key or on open strings to start out. Fiddle music and hymns are a good place to start. The reason why people recommend learning an instrument is so you can learn the difference between half and whole steps in a scale so that it is easier to build chords to lay underneath melodies. You can also create a chord progression to lay a melody over later. The spacing between the fingers helps some people visualize the spacing between notes. However, you can also have someone else do the instrumental part or watch them play to learn about chords. Basic Music Theory or Composition may also be a good place for you to start.
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06/01/19

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