Hardest Instruments to Play


The Top TenXW


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've been playing the violin for all most one year! I'm the best so you shut the hell up and don't ask me anything

V257 Comments
2French Horn

I have been playing this amazing instrument for 8 years now. It was the very first instrument I ever learned to play and all through elementary school and Junior High school, I was the only one who could play it. It is a fantastic instrument capable of playing well above the treble clef staff and down below into the low bass clef staff. It usually has the most beautiful runs you could imagine and has such an amazingly distinct sound. But... In order to play those mellifluous melodies, there is a price to play for every horn player. There is not an instrument that compares to it in difficulty for these 20 reasons...

1) It is the longest instrument. Despite tuba being the biggest, if you stretched out every bit of tubing in a double French horn, it is the longest. It takes tons of air just to play it.

2) It faces the back of the stage, requiring more air just to be heard. As if all of those tubes weren't enough.

3) It's heavy. Yes, many instruments like the tuba and ...more

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

I'm a French horn to and I've been playing 6 years and it's exceptionally hard instrument

V222 Comments

"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

It is really hard to master

V214 Comments

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

There are so many keys and when you play the low notes, you have to press a lot of keys

V136 Comments

I have been playing the flute for over eight years now. I truly believe that the flute has the hardest and most unique embouchure out there. Don't get me wrong I do believe that violins and strings have a lot of work ahead of them, but truthfully they don't have to have the right format for their mouth. Also if on other instruments not all but most if you have the fingering and certain harmonics of the instrument down you can play any of the types.
This isn't true with flutes. Every flute has a different embouchure, because of the size of the head joint and the opening to the head joint.
I should know I had to change my flute four times well mine was getting repaired.
Also that is another thing with flutes you have to make sure you take extra care of everything because if you don't have a good well oiled cork in the right position in the head joint you will cause a natural note to actually sound as if it is a flat. If someone picks up a flute for the fact that they believe ...more

I learned how to play the flute and it is much easier said than done so I do not that the flute is 5th hardest instrument to play.

The flute is a very lyrical instrument, meaning it requires more air than any other woodwind instrument to get a good tone. Assuming you can even produce a note on your first day, you are guaranteed to get light headed until you've spent a good amount of time practicing. You really have to be expressive with your sound (which again, requires a ton of air) to make your playing impressive.
The flute also comes with so many technical difficulties, thanks to the fact that we must play it horizontally; it can get uncomfortable especially if you play for more than an hour. The fingering itself is actually pretty easy, but being able to play lightning fast passages is a quintessential feature of mastering the flute.
In conclusion, the flute demands the best of all aspects of musicality. You must be extremely determined and work hard every day to really stand out as an accomplished musician.

Flute should honestly be #1 here, because it is a PAIN IN THE BUTT to learn how to embouchure properly, get all the fingerings right, learn how to use the other "extra keys", and plus, we blow the air ABOVE the embouchure hole, not into it, so like 80% of our air is 'wasted', for the lack of a better word. On the other note (haha, see what I did there? ), after you learn it it is the best feeling in the world to let go, forget your surroundings, and just play whatever piece you currently have. Also, people, there are different sized flutes, so we are NOT able to play all flutes if we are able to learn one. If you learn piano, you can play any keyboard! Every flute has a different feel to it, especially after it is used for a while. And there is also no other feeling like playing your own flute, the one that you learned on especially. AND, if you do not put in the head joint properly, or put your arm in the right angle, there goes your beautiful sound. Also, there's the ...more

Lots of breath needed

V184 Comments

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

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

Nobody on this damn forum has any clue about these musical instruments obviously. Electric guitar is one of the easiest instruments you can learn. The acoustic guitar should be above it too. However as a professional level pipe player in a grade 1 pipe band (means I'm really good) I say Bagpipes are the worlds hardest instrument.

starting with the physical aspect it takes loads and loads of air to keep pipes going, as well as the player must keep the pressure in the bag even so that you don't get fluctuation in the tuning of the 3 drones and the chanter, which adds more concentration.

while maintaining this pressure the actual fingerings are irregular, which must be played for proper tone. Not to mention all the embellishments which make playing so unique.

Not even the harp is in the top 10 this entire list is pathetic. Someone who actually know something about these instruments should be making up this list.

I am a piper. Also played the clarinet, saxophone and baritone. The pipes are by far much more challenging than the other instruments.

V33 Comments

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.

Drums are easy. - purpleyoshi98

V62 Comments

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.

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.

A bit off the subject, but I have no one else to share this with. My 16yr old son plays piano and learning a Bach piece. It got me thinking and I was daydreaming last week that I was keeping him company in his empty school chapel while he was practicing on the organ. He has never played the organ and its never been mentioned. But oddly after a school orchestra performance today (he plays bass in it) he was asked if he would consider taking a scholarship on the organ. It has to be harder than the piano with all that extra feet work and three staves.

"Imagine that you are a dancing octopus - - - doing it? Good. Now imagine that you are a dancing octopus who is also flying an airplane..."

One of the best analogies I've heard in relation to what it's like being an organist...

V21 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

I play drums, piano, flute, violin, and bass. To me, violin is the hardest, as there are no frets, but that's the only thing that makes the violin harder for me to play, than a guitar.

V49 Comments

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

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.

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.

The viola is more technically challenging than the violin. A player needs more finger pressure and bow arm. Fast, technical passages are much more difficult on the viola. The competition in the world of violin is much stiffer and orchestral viola parts are often easier than those of the violin, but the instrument itself is more difficult to play!

V33 Comments

The Contenders


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 ...more

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

I play the piccolo and the flute. But of course I think piccolo is harder because your hands have to be small so you can fit all your fingers on the keys. Then your embrasure has to be really small because the piccolo plays the notes that are even higher than the flute.

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.

V8 Comments

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 the keys look the same, but again, you have a key to press. And orchestra instruments require shifting, which is more difficult. If you're a Clarinetist, you can pick up a sax and start playing. It's easy, I'd know. But sax is hard in its own ways. It's very hard to play low notes on sax versus clarinet it is very easy. Flute took me a while to learn, I was used to a stringed or reeded instrument. What takes a while is being able to play a note in the embrochure. Once you have that down, you advance pretty quickly. Second hardest instrument for me would be Clarinet. It looks easy but it is not. First of all, you have all these keys and side keys, and then when you get past high C the fingerings get whacko. Second of all, no one sees what is going on inside the mouth. You have to have the clarinet at a certain angle, your tongue has to touch a certain spot on the reed, your diaphragm has to be very supportive, your embrochure is VERY important, when in higher octaves your tongue has to be at a certain spot in your mouth otherwise the sound is airy, and in order to avoid squeaking, your embrochure has to be just right. You do feel fatigue in your mouth a lot and tonguing is very difficult. To tongue notes, especially higher notes, smooth, fast, and efficiently, that requires a lot of muscle control from your mouth. But despite these things, orchestra instruments are more complex, and they go out of tune easily, even while playing.

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 than instruments such as the violin and piano. Also, the cello is hard to learn, definitely, because it's hard to find a good cello teacher, a specialist, that can teach you what you need to know to progress at a fast rate. There are many more teachers for other instruments, for example the violin, it is the traditional leading instrument of the orchestra, for a few reasons. Firstly, it was the first instrument invented. Then, when there were other instruments available people stuck to the violin because they were familiar with it, plus it was much easier to carry around (imagine carrying a double bass around to concerts everyday! ), and it would also be the proffered instrument because more music was written for it, and more teachers were able to teach it. I think people are starting to realize now the instruments such as cello, and more people are switching to it. Some of the most famous players of the cello such as Yo-Yo Ma, originally played the violin then switched to the cello because of numerous reasons. Cello music is often written in numerous clefs, most of the time, base, tenor or treble, which makes it harder for cello players to learn all those notes, and there corresponding positions on the staff. I reckon cello is by far the best instrument (although many others are awesome to! ), and the hardest, to play. -)

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 difficult, but the cello was, for me, harder (for some reason yet to be uncovered).

Two words, MUSCLE MEMORY. That is all you need to play this instrument almost perfectly. This makes it one of the easiest. You can get very good muscle memory by just playing it for a year. All these people who are saying this is one of the hardest instruments to play, obviously didn't practice much.

V32 Comments

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

As a violinist, a pianist, and a guitarist, I can promise you that none of these are even a fraction as the bassoon. How violin got number one, I will never know. A bassoon is a double reed instrument, meaning it has two reeds fused together, like an oboe. These instruments are twice as hard to play as the single reeds, not to mention the fact that double reed players have to make their own reeds. The bassoon is also considered an "imperfect instrument", because of its odd design. Like other woodwinds, it has a small hole drilled in the back of it, but it has one significant difference your thumb has to cover different sections of the hole during different notes. Sometimes 1/3, other times 1/2. The bassoon also has a massive weight, making it bit like the tuba of the woodwind section, which almost doubles the difficulty of playing it. Although I myself am not a bassoonist, I can promise you it far more difficult than any of the string or brass instruments combined.

I think bassoon should be higher ranked.

V43 Comments

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.

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.

Okay, this list is terribly inaccurate. The electric guitar, flute and bass guitar should not be in the top ten. The trombone is definitely more difficult than all of those instruments and the trumpet, but not as difficult as the french horn and a few other ones (e.G. oboe, acoustic guitar, violin). The trombone should definitely be close to the top five.

Also, where the hell is the harp?!

I used to play flute and I switched to the trombone. The trombone is way more difficult. Instead of memorizing fingerings, you have to memorize exactly where your slide has to be. It's even harder if you have short arms like me. Getting to a low b natural is so difficult.

V47 Comments

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

I play a trumpet as well and when I was learning how to play it #FAIL

V73 Comments

I've been playing the harp ever since I was two years old. It is VERY hard. You have to strike the right chords at the times, read the music, pluck the strings with most of your fingers with both hands AND hold it properly in between your knees and on your shoulder. I think the violin and the hard should be in the top two! I've been learning violin, piano, accordion flute and saxophone ever since I was 2 as well so I've got quite a fair share on which instruments are hard or not :) My harp has 47 strings, so it is VERY heavy to carry around laugh out loud! But is also cost an arm and a leg! It was £40,000! And the good thing about harps is that they don't depreciate in value unless you smash it around :) I've had my 47 string harp since I was 4 and we were about to sell it for a better one last year, and when the harpist came around to look at it, he said he'd pay us £50,000! So really, it appreciates in value

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!

Well this should be higher than the piano.

V22 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 think that the acoustic guitar is harder to play then the electric for a few simple factors, one being the gauge of the strings, the string are really thick and hard to press down, and they tear your flesh of your fingers a lot quicker then that of an electric, also the distance between the fretboard and the strings is a lot greater so makes it harder to play chords and stuff, the electric is easier to press down strings, easier to hold, has thiner string and is so much easier to play higher notes!

Because you have to not let it have buzz sound and you got to get your fingers move very fast.

V30 Comments
18Classical 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

V16 Comments

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.

You have to learn to circular breathe!

No buttons, strings, holes, or anything else. Gotta be hard.

V7 Comments

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

I've been playing the clarinet for 5 years now and its pretty difficult because you need to find a good reed, you need A LOT of air, you need to be able to articulate notes, change dynamics, and much much more. It's a complicated instrument. Its definitely not easy.

It kind of annoys me that clarinet is so low on the list of hard instruments to play. Violin is the hardest to play apparently which I do not believe but I wouldn't know because I only play the clarinet. I also think that clarinet is harder to play than the piano. To play a note on the clarinet you have to blow enough, hold the clarinet right, have your mouth right, and much more. But for piano all you have to do is push a key. Sorry for my rant.

I think its quite hard as there's the reed to worry about and then the keys, and then the right blowing. You also have to get the blowing and mouth position right. As well as that, the air that goes through actually makes a sound slightly AFTER you blow, so you have to be good at time and stuff. No need to brag, but I'm quite good at the clarinet but when I first started it took me 3 weeks to learn how to blow the clarinet without squeaking or getting sensitive teeth fits.

Really? You should try something like the French horn or oboe, then say that you have to use a lot of air

Just because I just started I already know its hard with all the notes and keys but in my opinion it is really fun and you'll know if it makes a wrong note because it will squeak.

V63 Comments
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You can cheat on the violin by sliding into notes
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