Hardest Instruments to Play

hockeyguy2100

The Top TenXW

1Violin

I have been playing the wonderful and amazing violin since I was six. I am seventeen now. And I am nearly not as good as some amazing people out there like my favorite artist of all time. Lindsey Stirling, a girl who is just AMAZING at violin, she plays all of classical, fiddle if you please, and... Dubstep. What more could you ask of an instrument that cool? I love to play the violin, and it is for SURE the most difficult instrument to play. You have to keep the bow strait, tune to the exact, you have to keep your fingers in the right places our you sound like a dying cat that is being attacked by a bear. You have to keep rhythm, you have to sit striate, feet in front of you. To make the notes sound even more extravagant, you have to vibrato, and then shift into positions that are very high. Drones, and fast fingering and bowing and double stops and trillings and playing soft as a butterfly's wings then BAM! Louder than a drum in just seconds. You have to be very talented to play the ...more

Part of that you have to do exactly on horn, and most comply with the horn in the same way. You have to make sure it is the right note because you can easily spot if the sound is wrong or right on the violin, but with the French horn it is different. It takes a very skilled person to know the notes because all the notes are so close together. Also, playing songs with the valves is very complex and takes a very long time to master before you can play off-hand.

I say that string instruments are the hardest to play. There is a lot of technique, especially when you get to the higher levels, and you have to be really careful about many things at the same time (finger placements, correct pitch, left hand shifting techniques, bow hold, bow techniques, good sounding tone, etc... ). I have played violin for 6 years (then left because of bad teacher and moved on to other instruments as violin took me so much time I couldn't really try another instrument along :D

I didn't have a lot of difficulty playing it and beginner level was too easy for me (actually I made first and second grade in one year), but as I moved forward, it got much harder and I had to practice more and more. But it is rewarding and I still sound good now after I started playing again (not professionally, but for myself). I can also play acoustic (both steel strings and classical) and electric guitar, synth, harmonica, recorder and cello.

By the way, I don't really ...more

It is obvious that this survey is completely biased towards the guitar and piano since it is a common instrument to play and people want to protect their dignity. It is very clear that the violin is the hardest instrument to play and I am not biased because I used to practice with the guitar and the piano. For the piano, every note you press is "correct" while the violin can be slightly sharp or flat. Is there a lot more technical difficulty on the violin? Definitely yes (staccato, harmonics, plucking, greater difficulty playing chords, shifting positions to reach insane notes. ) Yes, the piano can be hard to play, but it does not measure up to the violin. As for the guitar, it is quite difficult to play upon a MASTER level, but most people play it to play mainstream stupid stuff like some jack johnson song. Definitely not hard. However, there are two things that make the violin much harder than the guitar: the position the violin is held and the bow. You would be surprised ...more

You're rather uneducated in the field of brass instruments to believe that the trumpet doesn't deserve a high place. Though I agree that the violin and piano are very difficult instruments, I can confirm to you that pitching and tone quality on the trumpet are very hard. I tell you this from experience having played, some of which I am still playing, the violin, piano, French horn as well as tenor horn, and attempted the trumpet. I can not comment on the cello however, but do not be an ignoramus as to speak down on the trumpet.

I have played Violin for a long time and it is really really hard

V283 Comments
2French Horn

French Horn is definitely the hardest instrument to play. You can play practically every note without any keys down. The Partials are extremely close together. A high F and a high G, notes right next to each other, are the same fingering which means you have to use your mouth to move between them. Which brings in the lip trill, which is awful. My student teacher said it best when he said horn players have to have an ego, if you are the least bit unconfident, you will crack on about every single note. If you have the confidence, you won't crack. You also have to hear the note before you play it or it will be the wrong note/partial. Plus Horn has the tiniest mouth piece ever which are smaller than a bottle's opening. Then horn plays a lot of the wood wind stuff, like trills and running sixteenth notes and thirty second notes, which most of the time has to be tongued by double or triple tonguing. Also, the fingerings for notes in different octaves aren't the same, and we have about seven ...more

I have not played the horn for very long. The thing with this instrument is that it plays in both treble and bass clef. Another thing is splits where you get the option to play low or high. I always play low because the lower register is really cool. And I have to use just as much air as the high notes

Having played the french horn for four years, I know it's hard. The combination of forming your hand right and putting it in the proper place, making your lips exactly right (if its even a fraction wrong your note is flat or sharp or even a different note), remembering the different fingerings for every octave, and using enough air to push through all of that horn is so hard. It took me hours and weeks of practicing to get the smooth sound the french horn is known for, and some people in my grade and above still haven't gotten that sound. I mean, I can't make a sound out of a clarinet but that's because different mouth types are required for different instruments. But anyone who thinks that finding the right note when they are so close together with such a small mouthpiece and then using enough air to make a warm tone and make it loud is easy are so wrong. There is also slurring, which if you're not careful will come out bumpy and with cracked notes, stacatto can be tongued too hard ...more

The Horn is by far one of the harder instruments to play however the hardness of a instrument is only measured by its players preference you put forth the effort it becomes easier you practice sloppy you skimp out on practicing it stays hard and difficult. Though I will give kudos to also the Tubas it takes just as much as even more air to play tuba than Horn.

Oh yeah, I started horn just last December. I have a 2 octave range.

I play the French horn, and you either have to play super high or super low, and both are hard to do. I'd say French horn is the hardest.

V234 Comments
3Piano

"The piano is the easiest instrument to play in the beginning, and the hardest to master in the end."

-Vladimir Horowitz

Indeed, playing the piano seems very simple, especially at a beginner level. You take a finger, press a note and it plays, perfectly in-key (well, usually). You release it, and the note stops. You just press the right keys at the right time and you have a song, right? Well, the further you get in your piano career, the more you realize it's not quite that simple.

The first part of what makes the piano the most difficult instrument is the technical aspect. You are playing with both hands at once, and almost never with the same rhythm. You'll find that even playing something technically simple like Minuet in G can be a lot harder than it sounds for an inexperienced player. And all your left hand is doing is playing single quarter notes most of the time! Rhythm is a big challenge when you're a pianist advancing your skills. Polyrhythms, ...more

The pianoforte is indeed the master of all instruments.

At more advanced levels, many factors must be attended to ensure the most precise and eloquent sounding pieces to sound as grand as their orchestral origin, to be able to imitate every instrument played in an ensemble to recreate the piece on one piano is quite a feat. The treble and bass clefs require the pianist to play both hands in conjunction to each other, each individual finger must be controlled and thus playing each key requires a great deal of concentration. The entire body is used to play the piano, not just the hands. The arms, shoulders, torso, legs and feet all control the movement of the piece due to the posture of the pianist, the pedals used to sustain and soften the keys, and the wide range of the piano itself. Learning notes is only the beginning to perfecting a piece on the piano, not only does it require quick thinking on the pianist's part, but the sound of each note being played must be perfected ...more

I have played piano for 11 years, and it took a tremendous amount of time and effort to get to level where I am now. These are the two main reasons why:

1. There is so much competition on the piano, simply because everyone plays it and that there are many talented pianists. You can almost never find a musician who does not play the piano, and many people who are not musicians also play piano. If you tell people that you play piano, they will not be impressed until you sit down and play. Even so, it's extremely hard to stand out in competitions and eventually when applying for college. For college, you are competing against hundreds, or thousands of prospective students who are at the same level as you or higher.

2. Mastering difficult pieces by Beethoven, Chopin, Bach, and Mozart requires all of your concentration. Your tone, interpretation, dynamics, phrasing, tempo, posture, personality, and even the way you carry yourself are things that judges look for. In advanced ...more

I'm the kind of person who just plays without skill, and I'd have to say I'm not bad. But seriously. Reading notes, memorising literally 30 or more keys and playing? What a nightmare - DubstepLover

V223 Comments
4Oboe

I've been playing the oboe for almost 5 years and I can say from experience that it is an EXTREMELY difficult instrument to play and especially to master, which I myself have not even done yet. First off, the reed is a constant challenge. It is difficult to go from high to low notes or vice versa because the reed needs to be reed needs to be either more open (low) or closed/pinched (high) to have anything close to the right tone. Also after playing for a while the reed will simply close completely and not make any noise except for some pathetic squeaks. Then there's also a hassle in just keeping the reed moist enough that it produces sound, yet not like slippery from spit, haha. Also because the reed's air hole is so small, there are times where you have to even exhale before inhaling to catch your breath because you don't let enough air out through just playing. Then another reason the oboe should be listed high in the difficulty scale is because the fingerings are completely random, ...more

I totally agree! I have been playing for 2 years and I can not seem to get enough air. I constantly have to take more breaths than the rest of the band earning me glares from my band director for "breaking the frame" Still LOVE the oboe and would not trade it for any other instrument. 😘

I feel like this vote is off and too biased. Not everyone has played all of the instruments listed here and wouldn't know what to judge, they would only pick their own instrument, believing it is the most difficult because it might've been the only instrument they play. I've played, oboe, flute, clarinet, as well as piano. I have been playing oboe for the longest and still currently play it. I have to agree that oboe has been the hardest instrument, and especially the hardest instrument to start out with.

Even after playing for 5 years and practicing daily, it is still very difficult. Reeds are always an issue, and the $12 reeds you buy at your music store don't do justice. Most beginning players don't know and will continue to buy those disgusting reeds at their music store. A few go out, venture online and take a look at the custom made reeds online which was what I did. I tried a few online reed makers, ranging from $15 to $25 usually per reed. I never found any of them to ...more

Again as many people said here, the votes here are generally biased as people tend to vote for their own instrument and never had any experience with others. I've played piano before and sure I can play at a intermediate level and all I had to worry about were my fingers. With the oboe, I was constantly worrying about my fingers, the tone, how much air and support I'm using. On top of that, I have to worry about if I worked on reeds the previous night and if they play well in the playing environment, which leads me to having to pay attention to the temperature and humidity of the playing environment. And if you have wooden oboe, stress levels just increase. You're then constantly worrying about the humidity and temperature of where you store the oboe or else it will crack and it'll be a costly repair. Then prior to playing a wooden oboe, you have to literally put the joints of the oboe in your jacket or under your arms so that you can warm them up before playing, otherwise, you are ...more

I play the oboe and it is hard

V139 Comments
5Flute

I have been playing flute since the fifth grade, going on ten years now, and in the time since then, have gone through patches where I've seriously doubted my ability to play the flute, considered switching to piano or clarinet to rid myself of the still-have-to-verify-what-they-are high notes. Being one of the only flutes in the section to refuse lessons, (I strongly believe in self-reliance when it comes to music) I am the only original fifth grade flutist who has stuck with the instrument. Most of my flutist peers switched to clarinet, French horn, some to trumpet, and yes, even percussion. So much is demanded from the flute; perfect embouchure, 'stomach strength', strict breath control. If it was not mentioned before, this is the most difficult instrument to begin with, especially at a young age. Having volunteered to teach fifth graders in a summer band, only two of the fourteen students could even get a sound out, let alone a single note by the end of the session, after losing ...more

I have been playing flute since the fifth grade, going on ten years now, and in the time since then, have gone through patches where I've seriously doubted my ability to play the flute, considered switching to piano or clarinet to rid myself of the still-have-to-verify-what-they-are high notes. Being one of the only flutes in the section to refuse lessons, (I strongly believe in self-reliance when it comes to music) I am the only original fifth grade flutist who has stuck with the instrument. Most of my flutist peers switched to clarinet, French horn, some to trumpet, and yes, even percussion. So much is demanded from the flute; perfect embouchure, 'stomach strength', strict breath control. If it was not mentioned before, this is the most difficult instrument to begin with, especially at a young age. Having volunteered to teach fifth graders in a summer band, only two of the fourteen students could even get a sound out, let alone a single note by the end of the session, after losing ...more

The flute is by far the hardest instrument to play. Don't say it's easy, it's not. I'm in grade 6 and played the flute for almost two years now. I am in first chair and considered extremely gifted, however you have to work your butt off to play it well. The trumpet section in band say "oh, it must be so easy" but they're wrong. I bet the trumpets would pass out after playing one song, that is if they can even get a sound out of it. You have to deal with a dizzy feeling. It requires a lot of talent, hard work, practice, and determination. I stay after school for an hour and a half every Tuesday so I can practice. Then when I get home I practice for two hours. Every day I practice for two hours at home. I get finished with lunch early, then spend 15 minutes in the band room practicing. Believe me, it's very hard. But I love playing it because it's an escape from reality. It feels good, even if you are dizzy. You feel tired yet energized. I want to be a flutist someday. And if you do, ...more

Flute is really hard to play because there is a different fingering for each note

V199 Comments
6Bagpipes

I think it's telling what obscure instruments, such as the bagpipes an oboe end up on this list.

I wouldn't say the pipes are the hardest. With good instruction and a the obligatory practice, it is possible to become a very competent piper in a few years. The pipes only have nine notes, and there are not dynamics or rests, so in a way they are a very simple instrument to play.

But the pipes are incredibly hard to break into. They're not like a trumpet, clarinet or a piano where you can play simple beginner tunes full of minims and crotchets. You're straight onto quavers and semi quavers. Even slow tunes like Amazing grace have short notes. This is made worse because pipes don't handle crossed notes well at all. So fingering has to be perfect from the start. Because there are only nine notes, pipe music is decorated with embellishments - groups of up to six grace notes played very rapidly after each other. They require skill and precision to play properly.

Then ...more

This is very disgraceful that bagpipes are only number 6. As my instructor said a long time ago they are either 1 or 2 for the most difficult instrument. I've been playing the pipes for 12 years now and I still wouldn't say I've mastered it. In so many of the other instruments above this 12 years is a really long time to master something. I'm basing this off of getting to top end level. There are so many embellishments involved with learning the bagpipes and these are some of the hardest out there. Those are also unique to the bagpipe itself. Yes it has only 9 notes but add embellishments to it and it becomes a lot harder. If you add the drones that actually covers the whole entire scale of a piano cause the drones are each an octave lower than each other and the chanter. The pipes take a lot of air and maintenance. It is definitely a very delicate instrument and very difficult. Any change in blowing can make it go out of tune and you sometimes have to play for 20+ minutes non-stop. ...more

Bagpipes are definitely one of the hardest, for reasons stated. I'll say as someone who has only been playing for 2 years on the pipes (3 on practice chanter) that I'm amazed at great pipers-YouTube "gordon duncan" or "stuart liddel" and you will see what I mean. No doubt that any instrument takes years to master it (meaning play it very well); my partner used to play the French horn and yeah-that is very hard instrument to play. For pipes, I'll say that you first have to learn how to play the tune on the practice chanter, then jump and play it on the bagpipes (whole nother instrument) then if you play in a band, have to memorize it again with the band. The goal of a pipe band is to sound like one large bagpipe (sometimes they through harmonies in there too). Put that and have to march in sync and it takes lots of concentration and practice.

Keep in mind that the slightest over blowing or under blowing will put the drones and/or chanter out of tune. Additionally if you don't ...more

Bagpipes take incurable amounts of air just to play, because they only have 9 notes there are tons of different embellishments and grace notes that are played very quickly. Not only do you have to play but you also have to march while playing tunes. I would definitely say that they are one of the hardest instruments out there.

V33 Comments
7Drums

No instrument can be mastered. It is just not possible, but drumming us by far the hardest instrument to play. Drums have been around forever, anybody who hits anything in time could basically call themselves a drummer. People have been hitting things to a pulse forever, from all time periods, and from all parts of the world. This makes drumming not only one of the oldest musical forms, it makes it one of the most widely played the most widely played. You don't see some guy in the streets of Dubai, or a tiny village in Ecuador playing the Bassoon. Drumming ranges from very subtle and complexed brush strokes for jazz, and advanced double bass riffs for heavy metal to playing a marching snare drum in the cadets (one of the most widely acclaimed percussion groups in the world), or playing bells in a concert band. That's right bells, if you play bells you're playing piano except with sticks. ( right now piano is the #3 hardest instrument to play on thus list right now making drums at ...more

As a 50 year old terrible guitarist I started playing drums about a year ago because it has been relatively easy for me to keep time in my head and on the guitar. I quickly found that that I had a knack for the drums and immediately enjoyed playing them. As I have progressed it is clear to me how difficult the drums really are to play well. I agree with everything said here about how difficult it is to play drums. Although I have listened to thousands of songs over and over now that I play drums I can really appreciate the incredible skill of so many "professional" drummers... Even on types of music I hate. That's another thing... On the guitar I would not think about trying to play styles of music I don't care for but that is not the case with drums. I would recommend the drums to anyone with an interest in playing instruments. Yes they are difficult and impossible to master but compared to some other instruments way more fun! Plus it can be a very good workout!

Playing the drums is much hard than you think. There is a lot more to it than hitting things. There's a STYLE to things, if you can believe it. And there's also an actually proven and true way to hold drumsticks! Did you know that, everyone who points with their fingers on the stick? And then again, there are multiple kinds of drums. If you're counting keyboard and auxiliary percussion instruments, you've got at least 400 instruments to learn. If you think drums are easy, please take the test my percussion teacher use to give me. Please explain to me what a snare drum is, how to tune it, how it works, and name every part of the drum in thirty seconds. Go! And if you can do that, then I'm impressed. Now get out your rudiment book and play swiss flamdragadiddle inverted cheesy taps with the eighth note at 180. After you've done that, you can say drums are easy. Thank you.

Drum rolls are difficult

V69 Comments
8Organ

Seperates rhythmical patterns at once, varying not only by hand, but by leg or even fingers. Coordination to where the keys are mastered to pianist level, then adding the feet, then understanding the stops, how to arrange them, the ability to leap out and change them during performance, understand the thumb tabs, and the toe tabs, what the different keyboards do, and how to arrange the different voices. You have several keyboards to manipulate, with both hands and feet, literally dozens to hundreds of voices to order, volumes to maintain. Piano allows for some allowances on hitting keys slightly, try that on an organ and the note will play and ring out through the church, allowing for no error. The keys must be depressed properly or a harsh chopping sound will burst from the pipes. I could go on.

I totally agree, I've played piano for as long as I can remember and it's a very intricate instrument to learn and play well, busting your brain over different melodies, harmonies, rhythms and other multiple voices that go unnoticed by most listeners in the background, and giving your music a personality (sometimes I feel as if I'm my own band or choir stuffed into one person). I can honestly say I've never had the chance to play the organ, but throwing in extra keyboards and having to play even more notes with your feet?! I admire you organ players and I hope to be able to play this powerful instrument someday!

Organ requires hand-eye coordination, as well as being able to know where the feet are respective to the pedals. On top of that, a person playing the Organ has to worry about stops, more than one keyboard (manual) and pistons which change the tone or couple the manuals.

I've been playing Organ for 5 1/2 years now.

You need to know how different instruments which are used work, play it out with articulation just like how they do in an orchestra, 2nd expression pedal to make it more realistic, as pitch is not 100% accurate every time. Crazy pedals for bass like electric bass especially with dance rhythm. After touch expressions. Playing chords, and lead voices with single finger in both upper layer and lower layer differently, that is pure insane.

V19 Comments
9Electric Guitar

I agree that violin is tougher than guitar because its fret-less but drums and piano being harder is obsolete. I heard some one say that the electric guitar can be played by anyone without much assistance. Well I too have composed some melodies and arpeggios in piano without any assistance at the first time itself. *BURN*. And its much easier to find the notes of a same key in piano than in an electric guitar. I agree chords are easy in a guitar (although being a guitar teacher for almost 6 months I found out most people have trouble playing them too for a very very long time. I guess I just grasped it fast because of my love for the instrument) but go ahead and start with some crazy legato sessions, big sweep pickings and finger breaking licks and then support your statement. And that's just the easy part. Go way too deep into the theory and you might never come up. Triads, Scales of major, minor and pentatonic and then modes. God help me. Ionian, dorian, phrygian, lydian, mixolydian ...more

Widest spread of music to fully master is on a guitar. There are so many different styles of playing which require masterful finger manipulation. These include flamenco, classical, rock solos, progressive metal (arguably solos are as intricate as the most intricate of piano music). Some of the advanced level techniques for electric guitars including pinch harmonics, double picking, as well as just the general ability to pick and press 32nd notes at precisely the same time are quite difficult to master. Anyone who does not see guitar as a difficult instrument to "master" is deluded by the a few reasons: 1, a lot of people pick up guitar as a hobby and can easily sound good at it just by strumming chords in rhythm; 2, A lot of mainstream music that people learn on guitar is very basic, you wouldn't compare the basic music on piano with intricate guitar solos, would you? 3, If you've ever had piano lessons with a classical instrument growing up, you may be scorned by the ...more

While I agree a piano might be one of the hardest, the guitar requires you to manipulate strings to produce notes. A guitar is harder than most strings because it has 6 string where most others have only 4. I don't think hitting notes with precision like on a violin really count as hard to do. Once you get good at any instrument, you should be able to hit a note perfectly without thinking about it. With a guitar it might not be as noticeable when hitting a note slightly off, but anyone that's any good considers this unacceptable. The violin has a small neck making it easier to play faster, so anyone who thinks needing to play fast is a valid argument is wrong. Some of the best guitarist play just as fast and have to move a longer distance across a neck and stretch their fingers farther. Guitars have all the same elements like vibratos. Most of the people who are voting for the violin seem to know nothing about the guitar and just think because it's an instrument they play it should be ...more

Hardest most technique

V47 Comments
10Viola

I played viola for 4 years at school and it's terribly difficult and frustrating to play! I have small hands which is a curse because I feel like I need to dislocate my fingers to reach some of the notes. There is much more force needed on the strings to produce a smooth tone and the weight of the instrument caused me terrible neck and shoulder pain so I've since quit. Picking up a violin feels like playing a feather! I've been playing piano for 12 years and piano accordion for 2 and they're both much easier in my opinion.

Me as a beginner violist I still have a lot to learn but I can tell you now it's NOT an easy ride! Violist often need bigger hands and fingers that can spread far because playing the viola is pretty hard and it has different strings then the violin! Viola's also need more pressure applied to the strings then the violin and espically the bows! I held a cello bow and compared it to the viola bow and it was super light! I was surprised because you'd think a cello bow would be heavier! And I could be wrong but I was shocked! And I have absolutely nothing against Violins or cellos but I think the viola just might be a little harder then them

No one knows about it, and at the same time most instruments require you to read treble or bass clef. Viola is a whole new world and you need to learn how to read alto clef and eventually the tenor clef. Much bigger hands are needed to play this than the violin since it must be played like a violin but the fingers need to be spaced wider.

Here's the funny thing, the viola is played exactly like a violin. But it's 10th on this list because people don't know about it. The same techniques and skills required to play both are the same. I've played viola for 7 years and can play violin just as well. So I think viola is one of the hardest and deserves to be at the top of the list like the violin, since they are played in the exact same way.

V37 Comments

The Contenders

11Piccolo

I say piccolo is the HARDEST to play. I play the piccolo (and flute, of course); it has its similarities and differences. Piccolo is the loudest instrument in the band/orchestra. It is the smallest, yet it takes the most air. The fingerings are the same. I highly recommend you use alternate fingerings for extremely high notes, such as the high Ab. High notes are stupid hard on piccolo. Notes on the piccolo are absolutely nothing compared with flute. You need very good lung power to play piccolo well. If you play with not enough air, you will be flat. If you play with too much air, you will have a sharp tone, so it's hard to find that "in-between" stage. This is all thanks to a different embouchure. It is shrill to the ears, so make sure you have your earplugs handy. I cannot compare flute/piccolo to other instruments, considering the fact that those are the only instruments I play well. Fingers are tightly packed, as well. I guess piccolo is recommended for those with smaller hands ...more

I play the flute, however I plan on playing piccolo as well in ninth grade. My mom played piccolo, she told me how difficult it was, I've met people who play piccolo, my best friend from band camp told me how difficult it was, and you know what? I'm not going to tell you that flute is harder, because I got the opportunity once to play it, and it is difficult. To all piccolo players, I appreciate your hard work, I adore the sound of your instrument, I was honored to play piccolo once for 5 minutes last summer, and yes, it should be above flute. You are all amazing and overlooked by many. When I tried out piccolo, the small keys weren't a problem, I actually liked them since I have small hands, I had to use a thinner air stream and like twice as much air as the flute. Kudos to you for staying strong when playing such a difficult instrument!

I agree I started playing piccolo after my grade four exam on flute. I couldn't get a note out for ages( probably didn't help that I had a wooden one which is even harder) I'm now grade six and can play it reasonably well but hate how loud it is. There is no hiding if you go wrong. It is awful. But it is fun when you get the hang of it

Piccolo should be above flute. Really. It's tiny, which means your fingers get messed up when you're playing. It's also a really high instrument, making it hard to tune. It's hard to get a good note out in the beginning, and notes that are easy to play on the flute become much harder on the piccolo.

V5 Comments
12Cello

Yes definitely. I go to a performing arts school double majoring in band and orchestra. I've played viola for seven years, clarinet for six years, flute for four years, tenor sax for two years, and violin last Christmas. I played oboe before clarinet but it didn't suit me. In all honesty, all instruments are hard. No one can just pick up an instrument and play it. They all have their own techniques and tricks to them. I say orchestra instruments (violin, viola, cello, & upright bass) are a greater challenge than that of brass and woodwinds. For those instruments, you have a key/valve to put your fingers down and you can play the note. For orchestra instruments, you have to know where the fingering is on the fingerboard in order to play the desired note. Same with guitar, but it's more difficult having the instrument held horizontally in the air while bowing, or having the instrument held vertical while bowing. For piano, yes that is hard, moving great distances in short time and all ...more

A cello is probably the hardest instrument to play. Mainly because of the increments in the notes are much further apart than other instruments. This requires more shifting, and since the notes are indefinite on a string instrument it is harder to get the correct note. The cello has a very wide range, 5 octaves (approximately, I checked myself a while ago), which gives it a uniqueness to it, which is in fact similar to the male voice. The cello requires you to co-ordinate your bow and fingers together too, and those in themselves need separate co-ordination, like the bow angle, position and speed, as well as a correct bow-hold. You also need to train your fingers to develop a callas on them, so that your fingers are then used to the string and wont develop indents into your finger every time you play. I've played cello for about 6 years now, which have started at primary school learning all the basics. Only a few can use that to progress rapidly and start professionally playing, fewer ...more

Cello, in my humble opinion, is very difficult to play. As someone said before me, the cello has a large fingerboard, and you need to have extreme coordination and muscle memory to find the perfect note. I'm not saying that brass or woodwind instruments aren't hard (they totally are), but they have set places for your fingers to go, and if you place the right amount of pressure while covering the hole, you can make perfect notes (if your instrument is in tune, that is... ) almost every time. For cellos (or any other stringed instrument, for that matter), Every time you place your fingers down, you get a slightly different pitch than when you first played that note. Also, even though we almost never get the melody in a score, that doesn't mean that playing our part is easy. We have to shift every time we want to play a high note that the higher instruments can play with ease, and we have to do a lot of string hopping to get the desired sound. I believe that all instruments are equally ...more

It's so much harder than violin!

V30 Comments
13Bassoon

I used to play violin (honestly, I don't know how it's considered the hardest to play, I was able to play many songs within the first two months of playing. If violin is the hardest, viola, cello, and bass should be up there as well) and switched from orchestra to band to play bassoon. I wanted something more challenging, and after 2 and a half years of playing the violin just wasn't doing it for me. The bassoon took me forever just to get the first note, F, out of it. It's definitely a test of how much oxygen you can store in your lungs. As compared to most other instruments, the bassoon is heavy and it has keys all over the place. You won't have much luck playing it if your fingers are short- lucky for me, mine are long and feminine. You have to be well aware of what you're playing on the bassoon. One wrong key and you make a very obvious mistake. In class I find myself constantly adjusting my mouth to get the right sound, particularly on the higher notes. This year I was trying out ...more

Bassoons are by far the most difficult instrument to play. Very few people play the bassoon and finding teachers or help at all is almost impossible unless you live near a university or a big city with an orchestra. And unlike other instruments (except oboe and bag pipes) we have to make our own reeds specialized to our instrument! Buying reeds is also expensive ranging from $10-40. The tools to make reeds range to $400! Oh and don't forget that there are many different fingerings for each note! F Sharp has 17 different fingering. You have sensitivity points on the reed depending on whether its a low, middle or high range note. Once you get past second octave G you start using 'Flick Keys" that you play with your left thumb, that's 9 keys for 1 thumb to continually flick for each note. There is no octave key, a bassoonist has to learn specific flick keys, thumb keys and half hole patterns to jump octaves. All bassoons are hand made and there for have different quirks depending on the ...more

I have played the bassoon for a year now. I taught myself through music books because none of my band teachers knew how to play it. I also play piano, guitar, violin, cello, and saxophone, and I can say that the bassoon is by far the hardest instrument of those. The double reed and complex fingerings make it difficult to not only play the right note but play in tune as well. The double reed requires a firm embouchure that's hard to maintain without slipping. Each note has a completely different fingering that can be altered by how much you cover the hole. Producing a good quality sound from the bassoon requires every finger to be spot in place, your mouth to be tight, and a strong stream of air that will die down quickly. Even then, the note will be out of tune even if everything is perfect, so you adjust. Each note has a different feel. Overall, it's a heavy tree trunk that can't seem to produce a decent sound. Definitely the hardest instrument by far that I've come across.

Very difficult instrument

V49 Comments
14Trombone

Buzz the right pitch with your lips, place the slide at the length that best amplifies that pitch and allows it to resonate, make fine adjustments with the slide hand for tuning purposes, and articulate with the tongue... All simultaneously.

Like the orchestral string instruments, the trombone is not a fixed-pitch instrument and requires constant tuning adjustment on the fly. The trombone takes a great deal of air and playing it is a very athletic endeavor indeed. This instrument is incredibly challenging to play both musically and physiologically.

I LOVE the trombone! When it comes to trombone, I agree it takes air and tuning, especially for those high notes, and I have been cursed with short arms that can't reach slide 7 without the need to dislocate my shoulder to reach it LOL. But thankfully I never found it hard to play for long amounts of time as I am an active person and do not easily become light-headed (also heard that the trumpet and flute take more air than the trombone). But the slides? they can be confusing and it only gets harder because slides aren't like buttons or keys, you must move to them and moving takes time, not fast enough and you've messed up rhythmically which is why I suggest alternate slides. And then you learn to slur, took me months to get the slurring right, because, again, not buttons or keys and if you don't get your tonging right, you can hear every single micro-tone in between! The trombone is a nice challenge and I recommend it to anybody who wants to play a unique and fun instrument (just ...more

It is a joke. Instruments such as French horn or trombone are much more physical, yet still with great detail to consider, all the time. Think about how hard slurring and legato is. Even the first desk violinist in my orchestra who plays the trombone too admits that the trombone is a lot harder. The trombone should be MUCH higher, at least in the top 10, if not more.

Hard instrument. But still fun learning interesting things in class

V51 Comments
15Trumpet

Wow, I'm stunned. I thought trumpet would be up there with #1 being the hardest. I have played and performed on several instruments in my life: accordion, piano, drums, guitar, bass. None of them has been as hard as the trumpet for me which I recently started about 3 months ago (just to see how far I could go on it). Having my musical background I was able to pick up the mandolin and violin and within three to five months I was able to play something for people and entertain in a pro situation (with fiddle tunes, no classical). However, acquiring a usable range and stamina to play something performance worthy (solo) on the trumpet, as far as I can see at this time, is long way off for me -- perhaps years.

I guess I agree that violin and piano is probably the hardest at a advanced classical level. But, the trumpet is the hardest from the get go -- just to produce a pleasing sound! It's NOT an instrument you can pick up and start jamming on within a few months for sure, at least ...more

Nope: trumpet is definitely the most difficult. The violin and the piano are both physical instruments; you use your fingers instead of your mouth (something much easier). There is a reason why some people learn trumpet for upwards of 10 years and yet can never get even close to a master's sound and pitch, while you see so many Asians (yes, I'm being a stereotype-labeling person) mastering the piano or the violin in 5 years. Especially in high school; the students in Chamber Orchestra can put out the EXACT same sound, with varying levels of 3 years of experience or 8. Go to the marching band, and the trumpets' sound vary VASTLY. Many adults who have played the trumpet are still limited to the same range that they possessed when they were in college or high school. In addition, one who plays the trumpet gets a lot more tired (and a lot more quickly too) than one who plays the violin or the piano. Those two people (violin/piano) can quite literally play a piece for 10 minutes straight - ...more

I play all the instruments up above and trumpet is far by the hardest I know it. I rock at it but I am pretty good at the guitar but trumpet is so hard it was rated the 2nd hardest instrument to play 1st is violin and oboe tied then trumpet. In the real area where real people judge not just people that just go like I PLAY THIS INSTRUMENT I STRUGGLED A LITTLE AND ITS A LITTLE HARD 1ST HARDEST those little babies

Trumpet is very hard piano is just fingers and feet, in my opinion I think the control of fingers and lips are very hard. Also air control and eye movement and posture.

V76 Comments
16Harp

The harp has all the complexity of a piano (two staves, multiple notes in both hands), but the additional plucking action really sets it apart from piano - you have to be on the note and prepare before plucking. Then, seven pedals, each with 3 positions to control the accidentals. But you have to time them exactly right so you don't get buzzing, and if you're doing them fast then you have to release them on the spring rather than putting them exactly where you need to. You have to build up your callouses on your fingers by playing a lot. Painful! And controlling the timbre of the strings is really hard too - I can hear how I want it to sound, but its hard to make it happen. There are 47 Strings! Violins have 4! Why is harp number 11 on the list - its only because not many people play it and vote for it! It should be number 1! (I played piano and oboe before starting harp, but now I just play harp because It's SO CHALLENGING! (But good).

I have been playing the celtic harp (no pedals) for the last 4 years and it is very challenging---despite my having played the piano since I was 7 years old and am now retired. I have a degree in music, am a professional singer, and have taught elementary school vocal music. When I began harp, everyone said it would be easy because I play piano. Yes and no! With harp, one has to "place" all 4 fingers down before playing so one is constantly looking ahead--unlike piano. The finger patterns are very different from piano and hand techniques different as well--so sometimes I have to block out my piano hand technique so I don't try to use it on the harp. Like piano, one is playing different patterns on each hand--simultaneously and that's where being a pianist helps a lot. With both piano and harp though, if one plays musically and corrrectly, then even the simplest piece will sound beautiful and that's one's incentive to keep on practicing!

I'd add to what the others have said - in addition to two staves, finger positioning to pull the string correctly in rapid succession, muscle memory for the entire right hand that you can't see and expertise to hit a harmonic on any string without any marker. Many players also struggle with the size of a full size harp.

As someone who has played piano and violin, I must add that those instruments are easy compared to everything going on with the harp.

I've always wanted to play the harp... not much opportunity to learn in my area, so I play the piano and trombone instead.

V20 Comments
17Acoustic Guitar

Most instruments are roughly equally difficult. See if you agree with my argument.
(I play violin and guitar. I do not play piano. )

Violin making a note in tune and making it sound good is very hard

Piano playing a note is as easy as banging a tambourine... Or is it?

Guitar playing a note is moderately easy and probably somewhere between a violin and a piano.

But now we play 8 notes on a piano 4 on a guitar and usually one on a violin and things start to even out.

The easier it is to play a note on an instrument then, it seems, the more is "expected" from it.

The guitar is probably hardest to "finger", the violin hardest for tone, the piano hardest to read and play multiple parts simultaneously. The guitar requires strength and is a nightmare of gymnastics. The violin is the least forgiving by way of intonation and a musical ear, and the piano has so little variation in tone that it takes great skill to bring this out as is expected of a ...more

Okay, everyone here is saying that "mastering" a guitar means learning some chords and then learning a few riffs. No! Gosh, to learn flamenco or classical or really good bluegrass guitar... That's DIFFICULT. Most people couldn't self-teach that.

I remember when I was twelve or so and I got my first acoustic guitar. I would play for hours and my fingers would bleed sometimes. Building the strength to avoid buzzing/muted/ringing strings was tricky at first, too.

I think that every instrument is equally difficult to learn, depending on how far you're willing to go with it. Acoustic guitar isn't easy, though. So this instrument gets my vote.

I do believe every instrument has its own challenges, but I have played guitar, piano, violin, viola, and drums. Guitar is very challenging noticing it has different frets, fingerpicking, capos, and it is played in some of the worlds hardest songs. Drums is not hard AT ALL. All you do is hit it and keep the beat. Piano has its challenges, but all you do is make sure you hit the right keys. Violin and viola, cello and base, YOU HAVE A BOW! You don't strum so much until your fingers are bright red and bleeding! I have played guitar for 6 years, wrote my own songs, oh, and try singing, strumming, correct chords, and staying on beat!

I play guitar and I am 9. It was very hard at first but I got the hang of it. I think you can get the hang of it to. If you try.

V28 Comments
18Clarinet

Most do not agree that a clarinet is hard- in fact, it is known for it's squeakiness and "easiness". However, they may have or may not have tried one in their lives, so because of idiocy, they never know how hard it is on the lip and neck.

Clarinets tend to have a squeaky nature if not played EXACTLY correct. If even a tilt in the angle or slight movement occurs, the clarinet will squeak, leak out air, or just not make any sound. You must also have good posture for good sound (otherwise it'll sound like a bunch of geese in the park or a dinosaur being tortured), articulate and control your tongue, change dynamics and notes fast and smooth (involving knowing all the keys on the clarinet), and blow fast, hard, and quickly.

Unlike most instruments, clarinets take a good solid two minutes to assemble and place a thin reed to play on. Saxophone or flute players may complain about their fingers or neck, but the flute is one third of the clarinets' size and the ...more

Many people say it's really hard to play, but like anything, you need to practice. Don't forget, no one's perfect right off the bat! I've been playing for 5 years and it's not nearly as hard as when I first picked it up. Posture and breath stamina are key. When playing, you need to keep a steady airflow, trying not to puff your cheeks. Posture will help a lot with this, opening up your lungs and help you breath easier. To keep from squeaking, make sure all the pieces are lined up. Having the mouth piece slightly off could cause it not to sit flat on you lips and squeak. Although the clarinet does break into 5 pieces, it doesn't take too long to put it all together. Also remember, this is so its easier for you to carry around. In the end, I highly suggest trying it out, and not just because I personally love it. As you get better, it really has a beautiful sound and an amazing addition to any band or orchestra. Good Luck!

The clarinet is REALLY hard to master (I should know, since I actually play it). Your embochure has to be just perfect to even make a sound, or else it will squeak. It squeaks the most out of ANY instrument here. And your mouth can get tired SUPER easily too. There are many, many good things about the clarinet, such as how it has the highest range out of all of the brass and woodwind instruments. We have buttons, holes, and many many keys on the clarinet. The clarinets usually get the melody in songs, so you never will get bored while playing a song. Everyone thinks the clarinet is easy, but it's not. All of the instruments are hard to master, but the clarinet should be at least in the top 10. - Minecraftcrazy530

This must be one of the hardest instrument to play. Trust me I have played both for both 5 years and Clarinet is way harder than flute with more notes and that stupid reed always breaking! Vote if you agree.

V71 Comments
19Classical Guitar

Although I believe the violin is the hardest instrument to learn, as I've witnessed that firsthand the difficulty to master the violin, I voted for classical guitar. I have got experience in abundance with different musical instruments. I have played the clarinet and recorder, but I did not find that all too difficult. I study classical guitar and piano, and I can assert, that by far, that the piano is much easier to play than classical guitar. Playing Bach pieces on the classical guitar is much more difficult than when I endeavour Bach on the piano. It takes much more effort to play, for instance, Variations on a Theme of Handel (op.107, Giuliani) on the guitar, as opposed to the ease of studying the Harmonious Blacksmith on the piano. CLASSICAL guitar is difficult, I'm not talking about popular music, insipid chord-stroke-music stuff. The mistake people making when they assume that the "classical guitar is such an easy instrument to master", is that they think of the guitar used for ...more

The guitar is a miniature orchestra in the right hands. Consequently the bottom musical line along with the top (melodic) line and inside notes (defining the harmonic content of the music) are all played with the fingertips of the left and right hands simultaneously. The tone and volume of each musical element has to be performed in a balanced beautiful manner. Otherwise the music is lost. The slightest imperfection (which there are many when performing on any instrument) can be caused by any mishap (the slightest movement of a single fingertip). Yet the music must be continued in a manner most convincingly. This is what makes mastering the classical guitar so difficult. Most do not know this because they simply play classical music on the guitar. They don't necessarily do just to JS Bach's music.

I don't believe that the classical guitar is the hardest instrument, but it deserves a special mention. Come on guys, why vote electric guitar over the classical guitar? The Classical guitar is the root of all guitars and mastering this guitar will mean mastering every other guitar in a couple of months. In no way is the electric guitar any harder than the classical guitar, if anything it's easier. With the electric guitar, you are restricted to a plectrum, with a classical you hold 4, or 5 depending on your style, being your fingernails, which constantly have to be taken care of.

A guitar is easy to play so I don't get why they put it on number 18 they should put it on like number 5

V12 Comments
20Didgeridoo

I tried the didgeridoo when I was in Australia in 2000. I could get a sound out of it easily, but I couldn't for the life of me do the circular breathing. I also couldn't get it to sound anything as funky as the locals were doing.

The instruments I play to a certain degree:
PIANO: My main instrument. I got to Grade VI standard in less than a year when I was 18. Therefore I consider it a fairly easy instrument to learn.
FLUTE: As I could already play the recorder from when I was a kid, my sister (who's an expert flautist) said the fingering was more or less the same. I could sight-read Grade IV pieces the first time I picked up her flute - including dynamics. Therefore, I consider it a very easy instrument to learn. Embouchure was incredibly easy.
DRUMS: I could sight-read a Grade IV piece within a week of taking up the drums. The main trouble I had were demi-semi-quaver beats and fast triplet groups. Otherwise, it's a fairly easy instrument to pick up. If you can ...more

I learned how to play the didgeridoo last year and can still barely play it. You have to blow out threw your mouth and in threw your nose at the same time. Ah It is so hard but not as yard as the violin or piano which I also know how to play.

I have no idea what it is so I'm assuming based on the name that it is an oddly-shaped instrument that is exteremely hard to play - ILikeChocolateMilk

You have to learn to circular breathe!

V3 Comments
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You can cheat on the violin by sliding into notes
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