do I need to get started?
If you are learning a new instrument and
have no musical experience you may not have a clear idea what learning
materials and accessories you will need to get started. Here is a
list of things a stringed instrument player will want to consider
purchasing before starting lessons.
Your instrument: buying a new
instrument can be daunting if you have no experience with them. My
advice is to seriously consider your level of commitment to playing music
and then spend as much money as you realistically can. One of the
most common causes of people stopping playing their instrument is the that
the instrument itself is not of good enough quality to make playing music
enjoyable. Buying a used instrument is a good option, and you
shouldn't be afraid of that, however you will want to purchase from a
reputable store or have someone familiar with the instrument take a look
at it first to make sure that there are no hidden issues. Keep in
mind that the setup of an instrument, such as string height, is something
that can be adjusted and personalized. An instrument that sounds
great but doesn't play very well may be able to be changed to suit your
needs. I am happy to talk with a student about the details of their
instrument and make purchasing recommendations.
Tuner: Every student needs an
electronic tuner. These are incredibly inexpensive and convenient to
use these days. Tuners come in a standalone model that can
tune any instrument such as the Korg
CA-1, and clip on tuners for stringed instruments such as the Snark
or Korg AW2G.
I use the clip on style most of the time these days as they rely on
vibration rather than sound so they can used in a noisy environment.
I strongly recommend a chromatic tuner that can tune to any pitch and not
the more limited "guitar tuner" variety.
If you are an iPhone user the best tuner
ap for your phone that I have found is the Agile
Partners Guitar Toolkit. Yes, this thing really works perfectly
even on a phone, and includes other handy features such as a metronome and
chord charts for various instruments.
Metronome: This isn't something you
have to have on the first day of taking lessons but any serious student
will want to have one. A metronome provides a clicking sound
that keeps perfect time, allowing you to practice your timing and rhythm
skills with something to keep you honest. They come in both
standalone units and can be found for free on the web and as mobile phone
computer users can download a free customizable metronome program I have
Picks: Stringed instrument players
will want a pick of some variety. I suggest most people start out
with a medium gauge teardrop shaped pick. I like the Dunlop
Ultex pick in gauges from about .73 to 1mm. Your preference for
pick shape, thickness, and material is likely to change dozens of time, so
don't worry about this too much at first, just find something to start
with. I have hundreds of picks lying around so if you can't find anythign
appropriate I will be glad to provide you with one.
Other Accessories: A nice hard case
or padded bag for your instrument is a must for carrying it around.
Stringed instrument players will also likely want a strap. Even if
you practice sitting down a strap may be helpful for positioning the
instrument. Guitarists may want to use a capo,
a device to allow you to change keys while using familiar
fingerings. Other accessories that you may see offered include
strings, cleaning clothes and polish, finger grease, etc. Don't
worry about these things, we will discuss the need (or lack of) for those
as we progress through our lessons.
Do I need a book? On the first day
of lessons we will talk about your goals and find a style of teaching that
best suits you. If you already have instructional material bring it
with you. I have a variety of materials I have worked from and
may suggest some specific instructional material that you will want to
purchase. I also create some of my own material and may provicde you