Playing a musical instrument doesn’t mean owning one; many factors contribute to making an instrument hard or easy to play.
The instruments mentioned in the list require unparalleled dedication and practice as they are the hardest to play in the music industry.
Let us look at the ten hardest instruments to play and why.
A piano is the hardest instrument to play as the device has lots of things to consider before playing.
One great thing that makes this truly hard is the learning curve; it is easy to start learning with a single tone or nursery rhymes, but to play like Vladimir flawlessly, you will need years and years of practice.
Even a maestro has a hard time improving its poly-rhythm technique.
To play the piano with the expertise, you need to play simultaneously with both of your hands at different tempos and make things even harder, in two completely different clefs.
Your left hand will always play in a bass clef like a cello, while your right hand will always play in treble clef like a violin. Not everyone is ambidextrous, so you need to practice dominantly moving your non-dominant hand.
Modern pianos have piano pedals which are foot-operated levers. Pedals have the sostenuto pedal in the middle, the damper pedal on the right, and the una corda on the left.
It would be best if you played these pedals correctly, as these pedals help change the sound of the piano.
To make learning even harder, you will need to read a music sheet, but piano sheets come with two or three staff, unlike other instruments.
The first staff reads the notes for your right hand, and the second staff reads the notes for your left hand. Then there is the speed, posture, distance between each note, and the notes you have to pay attention to.
Trying to read music written in two clefs for two separate hands going at two different tempos all while turning notes’ pages and pressing on the correct piano pedals can be extremely difficult.
No wonder piano is the hardest instrument to play!
People often feel that playing the violin is equivalent to playing guitar. It is comparatively easy to play guitar, but several differences make violin the most challenging instrument to play.
When you play guitar, you have frets that guide your finger, but these are absent on a violin. The vibrations produced are more V-shaped than the guitar.
These vibrations are also called Helmholtz. You should master the bow force to create the desired Helmholtz effect. Extra energy and the vibrations produce a raucous noise; pressing too light will make just a surface sound.
Playing violin requires a lot of trial and error, even from the start. Apart from the bow, a violin’s placement matters too; you have to position the instrument on your shoulder and tuck it under your chin.
You need to hold a strict posture, which doesn’t sound like much but imagine doing it for 4 to 5 hours daily; now that’s tough!
As violin is infamous for its incredibly steep learning curve, it ranks the second hardest instrument on our list.
You might have to practice a lot even to learn the basics, and because of this, most musicians fear the violin.
Do not get surprised, but yes, drums are tough to play. These instruments may look fun to play, but things get hard once you shift to a professional drum set.
Beating a single drum or two drums isn’t tough as you can coordinate very effortlessly, but with six drums and cymbals, things can get confusing pretty quickly.
When you look at the modern drum set, you will find two fundamentals, i.e., drums and cymbals; the drums can include a medium tom, a high tom, a snare drum, and a floor snare.
The cymbals can consist of crash cymbals and ride cymbals. The more in-depth you get into learning, the more complicated everything gets.
The most challenging thing to do is coordinate all your body parts. To play drums, you need to master the art of using both hands plus both legs while reading the notes.
Drums are not soft light instruments; you need to add extreme pressure, which makes the playing even more difficult. Have you tried to pat your head and rub your stomach?
Now add both of your feet doing different things. Playing drums is truly hard. On a bright note, you get a full-body workout from all the intense beating sessions!
Accordion isn’t the most popular instrument, but imagine your Oktober fests without this sweet-sounding instrument.
The sound of this instrument inculcates a feeling of joy and merriment within seconds but playing the tool is not as easy as chugging down beers in the fest.
To learn, you need to master the movement of bellows, which can take a considerable amount of time.
You need to know the different bellows and then try to integrate these bellows’ movements with the actions of the variable components.
Your hands do all the work, and handling three things simultaneously, i.e., playing keys, playing buttons, and moving both hands in out to play the bellows, can be a tricky thing.
Apart from the musical aspects, an accordion is extremely heavy and oversized. You cannot play it while standing up; therefore, most music teachers recommend accordionists to play while sitting down.
Bagpipes are one of the most attractive-looking instruments. This traditional musical instrument creates captivating sounds with the use of air.
That being said, you need a large lung capacity to produce its famous sound with the bagpipes.
If you are new to the learning, chances are you might faint by becoming lightheaded because of the constant blowing.
After tackling the initial issue of fainting, you need to see and apply the correct air pressure.
Like any other wind instrument, a bagpipe relies on proper air movement to produce any sound. Keeping even pressure on your bag will create even-sounding beats.
You need to distribute the air through the drones and chanter equally. This instrument needs to be tuned very often, which can be tedious.
#6 French Horn
Most musicians believe that a french horn is the chameleon of all the brass musical instruments.
These heavy circular instruments can produce a powerful and strong sound and create a gentler and calmer sound in another musical piece.
The fluctuation depends on the correct airflow and the right keys to press at the right time. One important thing to master is the proper positioning of the instrument on your mouth.
The position will help constrict your airflow to create melodic music.
To correctly buzz your lips, you might need to see how your teacher does it, but as the teacher’s mouth is covered with the french horn’s mouthpiece, the teaching process becomes complicated.
Most musical teachers teach their students by placing an imaginary french horn on their lips to show the correct positioning and angle.
Training without the french horn might not be the most helpful trick, but that’s how most students learn.
Apart from the air, you have to press the right value keys to get the best sound, as two different combinations can produce an entirely different musical note.
Other than this, a french horn’s bell isn’t facing the audience as it always faces backward.
The students need to be very mindful about the tempo they are playing, and they need to anticipate when the following note occurs because it produces a slightly delayed sound.
One not-so-technical reason is people feeling intimidated by this instrument is the sound amplification. As the end piece acts as a speaker, all the mistakes are more likely to get amplified.
Get ready for a truly challenging instrument as the oboe requires correct embouchure. As the oboe is a wind instrument, it requires a highly steady airflow.
You can deliver a constant airflow if you know how to position your lips and how much pressure to apply on your lips.
The essential requirement is to blow air through the mouth and inhale through the nose simultaneously.
So you will be inhaling and exhaling at the same time. It is challenging to learn this technique as humans are not familiar with this type of exercise.
But the journey of learning oboe doesn’t end here, as just blowing through the mouthpiece won’t create a beautiful melody. One needs to learn how to activate different levers on its body.
You have to learn the correct finger moment technique for playing.
Learning oboe is an art in itself, but you have to practice the breathing technique extensively if you are thinking of learning this musical instrument.
Most advanced oboe players have struggled with this step, but you can learn playing in few years with continuous dedicated practice.
Harp is one of the most magical instruments of them all. You might know this melodious musical instrument from the fairy tales or angel’s stories that you must have heard, read, or seen.
This instrument will produce an enchanted sound that will mesmerize all souls. If you wish to learn the harp, you will need to learn how to pluck strings, as that is the primary technique.
Playing is not easy as plucking 40 to 47 strings require deep knowledge of each string.
People have trouble playing and remembering the six strings of the guitar, and with the harp, you have to learn 47 strings which surely need concentration and extreme dedication.
Apart from the strings, one needs to make sure that their position is perfect and their hand moments glide seamlessly to create the desired melody.
Pedal harps are enormous, so bringing one to the studio daily for practice is out of the question. If you are new, we recommend that you start with the most petite harp that you can find.
If you wish to invest in a giant harp, make sure you enroll in home tuitions as that is the most feasible option available.
Another big challenge is the lack of available resources for this instrument, as the harp is not the most popular instrument.
You might have difficulty finding and purchasing the perfect harp and a talented harp teacher who can teach you this beautiful instrument.
Cello is another big and hefty musical instrument that is hard to learn. To learn the cello, you need to have exceptional muscle strength.
Holding the cello in an upright position and keeping it in one place can be a handful even with a stand. The hand that holds the cello’s neck also needs to work and press the strings to produce the notes.
For the cello to create music, you need to coordinate the bow and your fingers in unison.
The most tricky part is that both your fingers and your bow will focus on independent actions such as the position, bow angle, etc.
You will also have issues while playing as the notes are distant from one another; you need to do extreme shifting, which always results in making mistakes. The cello has an extensive range of 5 octaves.
Our last hardest instrument on the list is the flute. A flute might look simple because of its construction but playing it requires exceptional talent nonetheless.
An aspect that makes the flute difficult is the embouchure; as we have talked earlier, the embouchure is how you place your lips on your instrument exclusively related to wind instruments.
You must be adept with the flute’s body and its hollow buttons to produce music. One needs to take care of the head joint with the cork as it needs to be oiled well for the sound to have dimensions.
If you keep it dry, your tones might end up sounding very flat.
#11 Classical Guitar
Classical guitars belong to the modern guitar family but are much harder to play owing to the materials used to build them and their overall structure.
These guitars have a wide neck, making the distance between two frets much longer than in modern acoustic or electric guitars. The wider distance makes the finger positioning for chords difficult. Your fingers are stretched more when playing chords on classical guitars, which can be a little uncomfortable for some people, especially beginners.
Apart from the stress on the fingers, the wide neck also makes it difficult to play each string properly. The reason is that when your finger stretches, it comes closer to the next string in the row. Now when you strike the strings, the movement of that string will be restricted, and it won’t sound very great.
Another reason why playing classical guitar is difficult is the thick strings that have to be held against the fret with considerable force. Often, the strings jab the tender skin of your fingertips and result in tears.
People often mistake organs for pianos due to their similar looks and structure. However, these two instruments belong to entirely different instrument families. Pianos belong to the percussion instrument family, while organs are woodwind musical instruments.
What makes playing the organ difficult is its multiple keyboards. Pianos only have one keyboard with as many as 102 keys, but most organs have at least two keyboards, and both are used while playing a piece.
Some organs have an unimaginable set of 12 keyboards. Mastering one keyboard is hard enough, so you can only imagine how difficult it will be to play two or more keyboards simultaneously.
There are also a set of knobs for each keyboard in an organ. Once you strike a key, you need to quickly press the right knob to produce your desired sound and then go back and strike the second key. This makes the entire process of playing and mastering an organ much more complex and requires years of practice to excel in.
The Didgeridoo looks like a longhorn and is very hard to build. The original craftsmen of this ancient instrument only use very selective trees to make them.
They’re also equally challenging to play. To play them, you need to master a breathing technique where you breathe through your nose and exhale through your mouth. The breath you exhale through your mouth will travel through the instrument to make the right sound.
This breathing technique is known as circular breathing. However, your struggle with a didgeridoo doesn’t end after you master the circular breathing technique. You need to be consistently breathing in that manner.
If you start breathing normally, the sound will weaken, and your musical piece will be ruined. You also need to maintain a steady embouchure, or the shape of your lips and the mouth, to ensure that the sound comes out consistent and smooth.
Factors That Make An Instrument Hard To Play
Animality of the instrument
It is very accurate that we should never think little of our abilities but sometimes, practically thinking about it helps you in finding the right instrument.
The difficulty can arise with the animality of the instrument; if you had an injury that targeted the shoulders, you might want to stay away from instruments like a violin for safety purposes.
A personal shortcoming is truly a question of one’s confidence.Sometimes people tend to undermine their talent or abilities and settle for an instrument that requires lesser effort or is uncomplicated.
One thing that all musical instruments need is thorough practice.
If you want to become a virtuoso, practicing is your only way of being a perfect musician, but few devices require lesser practice time than others.
You need to check your schedule and see the time you can afford to spend in the practice.
Learning the ABCs of musical notation
Ask yourself whether you are ready to learn and read musical notation.
Few instruments such as melodica, harmonica, guitar do not necessarily need learning, while other instruments like a piano will need it. It also depends if you wish to join an orchestra.
Orchestras mainly demand that you know how to read musical notes.
Your interest and will
This point matters the most. You might take the most challenging instrument, but with your sheer dedication, passion, and talent, you can learn the said instrument within few years.
We hope our list of the hardest instruments gave you an insight into the magical world of music.
Use this article as guidance and avoid playing these if you are starting or challenge yourself and partake in the learning of these instruments.
This list doesn’t have any scientific measure, so if you have a knack for a particular instrument, it will be a breeze for you.
Before going, we promise that learning any instrument isn’t hard if you dedicate yourself to it. All the best for your musical journey!