12 April 2012

Learning a Musical Instrument

I decided at the beginning of the year that I wanted to learn a musical instrument. It wasn't necessarily a New Year's Resolution, just something I wanted to achieve this year. I used to play the trumpet when I was much younger, for about 18 months or so, and I thought I would like to take that up again. I also considered the Flute, such a beautiful instrument, the Clarinet, the Guitar, so versatile, and also the Violin.

Eventually, though, I decided to go for the Mandolin. What a great instrument, not the most popular, nor widely played, but versatile, with a great sound. There is such a vast library of music, going over whole centuries, of renaissance music, classical music, folk music, and so on.

I have the Mandolin pictured, it has such a sweet sound, great tone and volume. It is so unforgiving though, you really need to get it spot on otherwise the notes come out awful. Learning an instrument invariably involves learning to read music, too. With the Mandolin, as with other stringed instruments, there is an alternative, called Tablature. This has allowed me to be able to play a few basic tunes already, although I do intend to learn to read music properly, as it will give full access to all music, not just tunes that have been copied into tab.

Learning an instrument has opened a whole world of unknown music to me, and I have discovered some really beautiful tunes. I have discovered a liking for folk music, and feel like a little kid lost in a whole new world, as I stumble across new names, composers and styles.

It is still early days with my learning, I make many, many mistakes when trying to play. One thing I have learned to accept is there will always be mistakes, but as I improve I hope there will be fewer than at present! There is such joy in listening to music, and being able to create good music is very enjoyable. Below is a video of a tune that I hope to learn at some point. Take a listen, the tune is just two minutes: