Self-Teaching Instruments: A Comprehensive Guide for Learning at Home

Are you passionate about playing musical instruments but struggling to find an instructor? Or do you simply want to learn at your own pace, in the comfort of your own home? Look no further! This comprehensive guide will teach you how to self-teach instruments and unleash your inner musician. From selecting the right instrument to finding online resources and tips for practicing effectively, we’ve got you covered. Get ready to learn, practice, and jam like a pro!

Choosing the Right Instrument to Learn

Factors to Consider

When choosing an instrument to learn, there are several factors to consider to ensure that you make the right choice for your personal goals and interests. Here are some of the most important factors to consider:

  • Your musical interests and preferences: It’s important to choose an instrument that you enjoy playing and that aligns with your personal musical tastes. For example, if you enjoy classical music, you may want to consider learning the violin or the cello. If you prefer rock or pop music, you may want to consider learning the guitar or the drums.
  • The instrument’s difficulty level and technical requirements: Some instruments are easier to learn than others, and some require more technical skill and practice to master. For example, the piano is generally considered to be one of the easiest instruments to learn, while the saxophone is considered to be more challenging.
  • The availability of resources and support for the instrument: It’s important to choose an instrument for which you can find adequate resources and support to help you learn. This may include instructional books, online tutorials, and in-person lessons. Additionally, it’s important to consider whether there is a local community of musicians who play the same instrument, as this can provide valuable opportunities for practice and collaboration.

Popular Instruments for Self-Teaching


The piano is a popular choice for self-teaching due to its versatility and the ability to play a wide range of musical styles. It is a great instrument for beginners as it has a straightforward layout with both hands playing different parts. Additionally, the piano is an excellent instrument for developing a strong foundation in music theory as it requires reading both treble and bass clefs.


The guitar is another popular instrument for self-teaching. It is relatively inexpensive and easy to transport, making it a great option for those who want to learn at home. The guitar is also a great instrument for developing finger dexterity and muscle memory. Additionally, there are many resources available online for learning guitar, including tutorials and tablature.


The violin is a popular choice for those interested in classical music. It is a challenging instrument to learn, but can be rewarding for those who persevere. The violin requires precise finger placement and bowing technique, making it an excellent instrument for developing fine motor skills. Additionally, the violin is a great instrument for developing musicality and expression.


The saxophone is a popular choice for those interested in jazz and blues music. It is a relatively easy instrument to learn, with a simple fingering system and a compact size. The saxophone is also a great instrument for developing breath control and tone production. Additionally, there are many resources available online for learning saxophone, including tutorials and sheet music.


The drums are a popular choice for those interested in rock and pop music. They are a great instrument for developing rhythm and timing, as well as hand-eye coordination. Additionally, the drums are a fun instrument to play, making them a great choice for those who want to learn while having fun. There are many resources available online for learning drums, including tutorials and play-along tracks.

Finding Resources for Self-Learning

Key takeaway: When choosing an instrument to learn, consider your musical interests and preferences, the instrument’s difficulty level and technical requirements, and the availability of resources and support for the instrument. Popular instruments for self-teaching include the piano, guitar, violin, and saxophone. Online resources such as YouTube tutorials and online courses can provide valuable learning materials. It is also important to develop a practice routine and set specific, measurable, realistic, and achievable goals. Regular and consistent practice, seeking feedback and constructive criticism, and expanding repertoire and exploring different styles and genres can help improve skills and develop musicality. Building a network and community with other musicians and professionals can provide valuable support and opportunities for growth and development.

Online Resources

In today’s digital age, there is an abundance of online resources available for self-learning. These resources can provide access to a wealth of knowledge and skills, and they can be accessed from the comfort of your own home. Here are some examples of online resources that can help you in your self-learning journey:

YouTube Tutorials and Lessons

YouTube is a treasure trove of educational content, with millions of videos covering a wide range of topics. From cooking to coding, there is a YouTube video for almost everything. YouTube tutorials and lessons can be an excellent way to learn new skills, as they often provide step-by-step instructions and visual aids.

Online Courses and Platforms

Online courses and platforms such as Coursera and Udemy offer a more structured approach to learning. These platforms offer a wide range of courses, from basic to advanced, and many of them are taught by industry experts. Online courses provide a comprehensive learning experience, with video lectures, quizzes, and assignments, and they can be a great way to gain new knowledge and skills.

Forums and Communities for Peer Support and Feedback

Forums and communities can be a valuable resource for self-learners, as they provide a platform for peer support and feedback. These communities allow you to connect with other learners who are pursuing similar interests, and they can provide valuable insights and advice. Many forums also have dedicated sections for specific topics, such as programming or graphic design, where you can ask questions and receive feedback from experienced users.

In conclusion, online resources provide a wealth of opportunities for self-learning. From YouTube tutorials to online courses and communities, there are countless resources available to help you achieve your learning goals. By leveraging these resources, you can gain new knowledge and skills, and unlock your full potential.

Offline Resources

If you prefer learning from physical materials, there are many offline resources available for self-teaching instruments. Here are some of the most useful resources:

  • Instructional books and method books: These books provide a comprehensive guide to learning a particular instrument. They usually include exercises, scales, and pieces to practice, as well as explanations of musical concepts and techniques. Some popular method books include the Hal Leonard Bass Method, the Alfred’s Basic Piano Library, and the Rubank Advanced Method for Trumpet.
  • Music sheets and sheet music apps: Sheet music is a written representation of a song or piece of music. It includes the melody, lyrics, and chords or harmonies. Many music stores carry sheet music for popular songs and classical pieces, while sheet music apps like Musica Neo and Sheet Music Direct offer a wider selection of music from different genres and time periods. Some apps also offer features like audio playback, transposition, and practice tools.
  • Practice tools: Practice tools are essential for any musician, regardless of their skill level. Metronomes help you practice playing in time and with a steady beat, while tuners allow you to check and adjust the pitch of your instrument. Other useful practice tools include drumsets, amplifiers, and effects pedals, depending on the instrument you’re playing.

Developing a Practice Routine

Setting Goals

Setting goals is an essential aspect of developing a practice routine when learning an instrument. Goals provide direction and motivation, helping you stay focused and committed to your learning journey. When setting goals, it is important to consider the following factors:

Short-term and long-term goals

Your goals should be both short-term and long-term. Short-term goals are those that can be achieved within a few weeks or months, while long-term goals are those that may take several months or years to achieve. Having both short-term and long-term goals can help you stay motivated and make steady progress.

Specific and measurable goals

Your goals should be specific and measurable. This means that you should define what you want to achieve in detail and have a way to measure your progress. For example, if your goal is to learn a particular piece of music, you can set a specific goal of learning it by a certain date or measure your progress by the number of times you can play it without mistakes.

Realistic and achievable goals

Your goals should be realistic and achievable. It is important to set goals that are challenging but not impossible to achieve. Setting unrealistic goals can lead to frustration and discouragement, while setting goals that are too easy may not provide enough motivation to continue practicing. When setting goals, it is important to consider your current skill level and abilities, as well as any limitations or obstacles that may arise.

Overall, setting specific, measurable, realistic, and achievable goals can help you develop a practice routine that is focused, motivating, and rewarding.

Scheduling Practice

Creating a routine and sticking to it is crucial for developing a successful self-teaching practice. It is essential to allocate time for practice and breaks and balance practice with other activities. Here are some tips for scheduling practice:

  • Set a specific time and day for practice: Choose a time and day that works best for you and stick to it. This will help you create a habit and make it easier to practice regularly.
  • Allocate time for practice and breaks: Set aside a specific amount of time for practice and breaks. For example, you can practice for 30 minutes and take a 10-minute break. This will help you stay focused and avoid burnout.
  • Balance practice with other activities: It is important to balance practice with other activities such as school, work, or hobbies. Make sure to allocate enough time for all of your activities and prioritize self-teaching instrument practice when necessary.

By following these tips, you can create a successful self-teaching practice routine that fits into your daily schedule. Remember to be consistent and patient with yourself as you develop this routine.

Tracking Progress

Keeping a Practice Log or Journal

Maintaining a practice log or journal is an effective way to track progress when learning an instrument independently. This involves recording the date, time, and duration of each practice session, as well as noting any specific goals or objectives for the session. Additionally, it can be helpful to record any new techniques or concepts learned during the session, as well as any challenges faced and how they were overcome.

Reviewing Progress Regularly

Reviewing progress regularly is essential for staying motivated and identifying areas that need improvement. This can be done weekly or monthly, depending on the individual’s goals and schedule. When reviewing progress, it is important to consider both the positive aspects of the past month, such as achieving specific goals or learning new techniques, as well as areas that need improvement. This can help identify patterns in the learning process and make adjustments to the practice routine as needed.

Seeking Feedback from Peers or Mentors

Seeking feedback from peers or mentors can provide valuable insight into areas of improvement and help identify potential challenges or obstacles in the learning process. This can be done through online forums or communities, where individuals can share their progress and receive feedback from others who are learning the same instrument. Alternatively, working with a private instructor or mentor can provide personalized feedback and guidance throughout the learning process.

Overcoming Challenges and Improving Skills

Common Challenges

Motivation and Discipline

Motivation and discipline are essential for any self-teaching endeavor. Without a clear purpose or direction, it is easy to become demotivated and lose focus. Some strategies to overcome this challenge include setting achievable goals, creating a structured study plan, and finding ways to make the learning process enjoyable. For example, incorporating favorite songs or games into the learning process can help to maintain interest and enthusiasm.

Technique and Form

Developing proper technique and form is crucial when learning an instrument. This can be a challenge, especially for beginners who may not have a clear understanding of the correct posture, hand positioning, or breathing techniques. Regular practice and guidance from a teacher or instructional videos can help to improve technique and form. Additionally, using tools such as mirrors or video recordings can provide valuable feedback on areas that need improvement.

Navigating Obstacles and Setbacks

Learning an instrument can be a frustrating process, and obstacles and setbacks are inevitable. These may include physical limitations, mental blocks, or technical difficulties. To overcome these challenges, it is important to maintain a growth mindset and approach setbacks as opportunities for growth and improvement. Seeking guidance from a teacher or mentor, adjusting practice routines, and experimenting with different techniques can also help to navigate obstacles and setbacks.

Strategies for Improvement

Regular and Consistent Practice

  • Setting aside dedicated time each day or week to practice
  • Gradually increasing practice duration and intensity
  • Consistently working on the same instrument to build muscle memory

Seeking Feedback and Constructive Criticism

  • Finding a teacher, mentor, or peer to provide guidance
  • Recording performances to analyze and identify areas for improvement
  • Participating in workshops, masterclasses, or online forums for feedback

Expanding Repertoire and Exploring Different Genres

  • Learning a variety of pieces or songs to develop versatility
  • Experimenting with different styles, techniques, and rhythms
  • Attending concerts, listening to recordings, and reading about various genres to gain inspiration and broaden knowledge

Building Skills and Performing

Developing Musicality

Developing musicality is a crucial aspect of learning to play an instrument, as it involves understanding the fundamental elements of music and how they work together to create a cohesive and expressive performance. Here are some ways to develop musicality when learning an instrument at home:

Understanding Rhythm, Melody, and Harmony

Rhythm, melody, and harmony are the three main elements of music that make up a piece of music. Rhythm refers to the pattern of beats and notes that give a piece of music its underlying structure and energy. Melody refers to the sequence of single pitches that make up a musical line and carry the main themes and motifs of a piece. Harmony refers to the combination of two or more notes played at the same time to create a chord or a musical texture.

To develop musicality, it is important to understand these elements and how they work together to create a cohesive and expressive performance. For example, a piece of music may have a fast-paced rhythm, a melodic line that moves between different notes, and a harmony that creates a sense of tension and release. By understanding how these elements work together, you can begin to develop a deeper appreciation for the music you are playing and create a more expressive and engaging performance.

Improving Listening Skills and Musical Awareness

Improving your listening skills and musical awareness is another important aspect of developing musicality. This involves actively listening to a wide range of music and paying attention to the different elements that make up a piece of music. For example, you might listen to a piece of music and focus on the rhythm, melody, and harmony, or you might listen to a particular instrument or vocalist and focus on the way they articulate their notes and phrases.

By improving your listening skills and musical awareness, you can develop a deeper understanding of the music you are playing and learn to identify the different elements that make up a piece of music. This can help you to develop a more nuanced and expressive performance, as you can draw on your understanding of the music to create a more engaging and expressive interpretation.

Experimenting with Different Styles and Genres

Experimenting with different styles and genres is another way to develop musicality when learning an instrument at home. This involves exploring different musical styles and genres and learning how to play music from different cultures and traditions. For example, you might experiment with jazz, blues, or classical music, or you might explore music from different parts of the world, such as African, Indian, or Middle Eastern music.

By experimenting with different styles and genres, you can develop a broader understanding of music and learn to appreciate the diversity of musical expression. This can help you to develop a more nuanced and expressive performance, as you can draw on your understanding of different musical styles and genres to create a more engaging and expressive interpretation.

Gigging and Performing

  • Finding opportunities to perform
    • Local music venues and open mic nights
    • Online platforms for musicians
    • Collaborating with other musicians
  • Preparing for gigs and performances
    • Setting goals and creating a plan
    • Rehearsing and practicing
    • Creating a setlist and arranging songs
  • Overcoming stage fright and performance anxiety
    • Identifying triggers and developing coping strategies
    • Visualization and relaxation techniques
    • Seeking support from peers and professionals

Continuing Education and Growth

Expanding Knowledge and Skills

In order to become a proficient musician and continue to grow as an artist, it is important to expand your knowledge and skills beyond the basics. Here are some ways to do just that:

  • Exploring different genres and styles: While it is important to start with a foundation in a particular genre or style, it is also important to branch out and explore other genres and styles. This can help you develop a well-rounded understanding of music and broaden your creative horizons.
  • Learning from other musicians and peers: One of the best ways to improve your skills as a musician is to learn from others. Attend performances, collaborate with other musicians, and participate in online communities to gain insights and inspiration from those who have more experience than you.
  • Attending workshops, masterclasses, and festivals: Another great way to expand your knowledge and skills is to attend workshops, masterclasses, and festivals. These events provide opportunities to learn from experts in the field, gain exposure to new techniques and technologies, and connect with other musicians and industry professionals.

By taking advantage of these opportunities, you can continue to develop your skills as a musician and stay on the path of continuous learning and growth.

Building a Network and Community

  • Joining music communities and forums
    • Participating in online forums and discussion boards
    • Engaging with fellow musicians and enthusiasts
    • Sharing knowledge and resources
  • Networking with other musicians and professionals
    • Connecting with professionals in the industry
    • Seeking out mentorship and guidance
    • Attending workshops and events
  • Collaborating and creating music with others
    • Working with other musicians on projects
    • Exchanging ideas and techniques
    • Recording and performing together

By joining music communities and forums, self-teaching musicians can connect with others who share their passion for music. These online platforms provide opportunities to engage with fellow musicians and enthusiasts, share knowledge and resources, and participate in discussions on various topics related to music.

Networking with other musicians and professionals is also essential for growth and development. By connecting with professionals in the industry, self-teaching musicians can seek out mentorship and guidance, attend workshops and events, and gain valuable insights into the music industry.

Collaborating and creating music with others is a great way to learn and grow as a musician. By working with other musicians on projects, self-teaching musicians can exchange ideas and techniques, receive feedback, and develop their skills. Recording and performing together can also provide valuable experience and help build confidence as a musician.


1. What are some popular instruments that can be self-taught?

Some popular instruments that can be self-taught include the guitar, piano, ukulele, and drums. These instruments have a wide range of resources available online, including tutorials, lesson plans, and instructional videos, making it easier for beginners to learn on their own.

2. Where can I find resources to learn instruments by myself?

There are many resources available online for learning instruments by yourself. Some popular options include YouTube tutorials, online lesson sites like JustinGuitar or PlayGuitar, and instructional books or e-books. Additionally, many music schools and conservatories offer free online resources for beginners to learn and practice.

3. How can I stay motivated while self-teaching an instrument?

Staying motivated while self-teaching an instrument can be challenging, but there are several strategies that can help. Setting specific goals, such as learning a certain number of songs or improving a particular skill, can help keep you focused and motivated. Practicing with a metronome or playing along with recordings can also help improve your skills and keep you engaged. Additionally, joining online communities or forums for other beginner musicians can provide a supportive and motivating environment.

4. What are some common mistakes to avoid when self-teaching an instrument?

One common mistake when self-teaching an instrument is not practicing regularly. It’s important to set aside time each day to practice and learn, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Another mistake is not paying attention to proper technique, which can lead to bad habits and make it harder to progress in the future. Finally, it’s important to choose an instrument that is well-suited to your goals and interests, as learning an instrument that doesn’t hold your interest can be difficult and demotivating.

5. Can I still learn an instrument if I don’t have any musical background or experience?

Absolutely! Many people learn instruments without any prior musical experience or background. The key is to start with simple exercises and gradually build up your skills over time. It’s also helpful to find resources and materials that are specifically designed for beginners, as these will often provide more detailed explanations and guidance. With patience, practice, and dedication, anyone can learn to play an instrument, regardless of their musical background.

Easiest Instruments for Beginners (you won’t need a teacher!)

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