Hardest Instruments to Play

hockeyguy2100

The Top Ten

1 Violin Violin The violin is a wooden string instrument in the violin family. It is the smallest and highest-pitched instrument in the family in regular use.

I've been playing violin since I was 5 maybe 6 and I am now 13 so yeah it's hard from my standpoint of view but I also played or still play piano which is also hard having the small hands I do and leading from the beginning from the beginning as any instruments is. I also play the French horn with I have to admit is hard but it's getting to the extreme high or low notes that makes I that getting a legit note is relatively easy compared to the flute which I'm trying (in vain) to learn. I think the violin is really hard at all levels because when you tart off its hard because of learning how to hold it or where to place your fibers or just endurance. How long can you hold a violin up. I started in 1st grade and I was (and still am) pretty weak. You also have to learn to grow calluses on your finger tips. Yes I know that with all instruments it is constantly getting harder the longer you stay with it but with violin there's constantly a new thing to be learned. (Higher positions, ...more

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.

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.

To be a millimeter off any technique is a mile from the right sound

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2 French 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

French horn is way harder than oboe

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3 Piano Piano The piano is a musical instrument played using a keyboard, which is a row of keys that the performer presses down or strikes with the fingers and thumbs of both hands.

"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

When you think of piano, you normally think it's a very easy instrument, right? "I mean, so many people can play it... It can't be that difficult..."

Now, this is where you fall into the trap of the piano. It is very easy to learn as a beginner, but it gets harder and harder to learn, and it is up there as one of the most difficult instruments to master. To be able to play two hands, both the treble and the bass, maintaining perfect coordination of both hands WHILE also needing to keep dynamics, tempo, musicality, etc all in good condition is really not an easy feat.

I have played other instruments before, such as string instruments. The piano is certainly not a difficult instrument to pick up as a beginner, because it really isn't that difficult to hit a key, or several keys. Certain string instruments, on the other hand, require you to position your hand at the perfect spot on the strings to play the exact note. Any higher, it's a flat. Any lower, it's a ...more

Piano is the best by far. Amazing for solo and duet, basically all other intrsuments need piano with it to play nice pieces, piano is good as it can play the role of any other intrstrument.

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4 Oboe

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

My mom played oboe in high school and collage

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5 Organ

I'm a brass player, and some of my experience with the other instruments on this list is minimal at best. All I know is: I play the French horn proficiently, I can make a sound on the flute after a while, I can't make a sound on an oboe, and I'm decent at jazz piano. I also took organ lessons for a year, and for me it's the hardest instrument. Reading piano music is hard enough when you have to coordinate two staves and two clefs with two hands, but now you have to ALSO use both of your feet, and often play a different keyboard with each hand. Even if the music is simpler like a hymn and only has two staves (because the pedals will just be playing the lowest line), the coordination necessary to pull it off is maddening. In addition, while with piano you can let the natural decay connect notes when using the pedal or when they're fast enough, with organ you must hold the keys down for the entire duration you want the note to sound. As a result your key changes have to be very quick and ...more

Having only ever played one instrument beside the organ (piano), I don't know how accurate my opinion is. But I think the organ is pretty dang tough. I've been taking lessons for a year now and feel like I have made very little progress. You are doing all these different things at once: right hand, left hand, pedals with both feet, the volume pedal, switching stops in the middle of it. To put it simply; you have to really coordinate. I really enjoy playing it, but it is so tough. I definitely think it is way harder than piano (which I have been playing for four years now.) In fact, I probably would've given up by now if I wasn't so stubborn. Maybe I just don't have the skill for it, but I know I'm not the only one who thinks it's hard. I know people who have been playing it for years and say they are still learning. The organ is a beautiful instrument, though, and I hope to one day play it well enough to do it justice.

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've played piano for 3 years, and that is hard enough. Now add 4x the keys, a bunch more pedals, and sometimes a couple of buttons on the side. Ouch. I think this is only topped by the kazoo.

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6 Bagpipes Bagpipes Bagpipes are a wind instrument using enclosed reeds fed from a constant reservoir of air in the form of a bag.

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

This is by far the hardest instrument

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7 Drums

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.

They need many co ordination with limbs like no other instrument except steel bass guitar

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8 Flute Flute The flute is a family of musical instruments in the woodwind group. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening.

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

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.

It's just all the buttons it seems hard

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9 Electric Guitar Electric Guitar The electric guitar is a type of guitar that unlike an acoustic guitar, is solid body instead of hollow. They use pickups and amps to produce sound that's audible from more than a few feet. They are mainly used in rock and metal music and in those genres are commonly the main instruments. A few notable ...read more.

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 can't do it very good... - EliHbk

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10 Cello Cello The cello or violoncello is a bowed or plucked string instrument with four strings tuned in perfect fifths.

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 got such a wide range of pitches so your always shifting up and down the cello

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The Contenders

11 Harp

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!

As a professional harpist, id say that the harp is VERY challenging to play. First of all, you have to play a different note pattern on each hand simultaneously which can be an extreme challenge for some people. Next, when you play the harp, finger placement is very picky. You don't ever use your pinkies while playing and you place your four fingers down on strings before you even play them, which can be especially difficult when it comes to playing faster and more advanced songs. Lastly, when you play the harp, you almost have to multitask. In addition to using both hands simultaneously and keeping track of finger placement, you may also have to deal with levers or 7 pedals with 3 settings too. Playing the harp isn't as easy as it looks.

The harp can sense when your arms aren't relaxed, and you will get a horrible tone. The harp is much more involved in how you are moving your body than any other instrument, on top of the pedals, and the complexity of a piano.

V 31 Comments
12 Viola

I play viola and piano. I started playing piano first, starting in first grade. Piano is played in the very well known clefs of treble and bass clef. When I decided to start playing the viola at the end of fifth grade, I learned that I had to learn that I had to learn a totally new clef-the alto clef. I never even knew there was such thing as the alto clef until that moment! Speaking of that, I didn't even know there was such thing as a viola until I was midway through fifth grade! All I hear about is violins, violins, and more violins! Why doesn't anyone know about violas? I think some people who play the violin chose to play the violin because they have never heard of a viola! People who aren't in orchestra, or don't know anyone in orchestra will not know anything about violas;when those people look at an orchestra they only see the viola section as another part of the violin section. I don't get how violas aren't at the top of this list, really! Violas are really hard because you ...more

I don't find violas hard to play, it's just frustrating to be in the viola section ( Because you're the laughing stock of the whole ensemble ). When we were picking instruments for strings many, many years ago, I remember the teacher giving pros and cons about the instruments, but I'm sure she said something like " There usually aren't many violas. But you have to learn a whole new clef! Moving on the cellos..." Then I started reading the note above the written note on the staff for my treble clef instrument, and I just got so confused. And now someone who I know who is already having a hard time learning Alto clef is going to have to learn treble, and their probably not going to do that well. Basically, Alto Clef is horrible. If you have problems with the finger board, get a violin outfit strung as a viola ( It's what they do in school strings groups)

The viola is definitely harder than the violin, why is it number 9? This is because the steps between notes are slightly larger and harder to reach if you have small hands. I started playing in 4th grade, and now I'm in 11th grade, and I have loved it. The alto clef was the first clef I ever learned, so it wasn't hard for me. I can play Hoffmeister's concerto in D Major just fine, and overall, I can play pretty well. But, the violins always get the fun and challenging parts which I always want, instead of two pages worth of offbeats... I chose the viola in fourth grade because it wasn't the generic, everybody-plays-it instrument. I wanted to go for interesting, and something new. I still love the viola though because each viola section I have joined has been laid back, fun, and usually humble. We are usually the masters of bad puns... Whereas, sometimes I can see some of the violinists' egos from 100 miles away. Also, with all the competitiveness, I would hate the stress of playing ...more

I don't play viola and violin, but they'd be about a same amount of difficulty to play, right? - Feirceraven

V 59 Comments
13 Bassoon

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

To be completely honest I think one of the reasons bassoon is lower down than some other instruments is because it is less popular, so less people have the experience to say how difficult it is compared to something like flute or piano. I think one thing that separates the difficulty of bassoon from some other instruments is that a lot of instruments are difficult to master and become spectacular at, however other instruments are also difficult to begin learning and get to a decent standard. I think bassoon is one of these instruments. I used to play piano and can say that bassoon should definitely be above piano on this list. I understand to master to piano is hard because of co-ordination, however I know it was significantly easier than bassoon. You don't have to constantly worry about tuning and you can do things such as jump 3 octaves quite easily. It is also easier to grasp the basics so that it becomes more interesting and fun to play earlier. Even if I was asked to compare the ...more

Makes me sad. It's an old instrument but it's so fun to play. Sometimes hard though. - Transformers234

The Bassoon should be way higher on this list. As a bassoonist myself, I must say that it is extremely difficult when you start. The reed is very hard to get a sound out of, and the fingerings for the high notes are insane. Once you play it for a few months it isn’t so bad, but I’ve been playing it for a few years and I still can’t remember some high note fingerings, not to mention we have to play extremely fast for many songs.

V 89 Comments
14 Piccolo

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 play the flute, but I have to play the piccolo in one of my songs in band, because it has a solo. It is so hard because it requires SO MUCH air. It is so hard to play high, and I have to play way up high in the third octave, and it's hard to get the fingerings right because you hands are packed together. It is also so hard to tune. I am constantly out of tune. I have band first period so I put the piccolo together about 10-15 minutes before band and try and tune it. Even if the instrument is in tune how much air you blow affect how sharp or flat it is, so I still am almost never in tune. It also causes you to lose so much air, I almost passed out during band once. So I say piccolo is hardest to play.

Piccolo should be above flute and I would say #3 AT LEAST. Anybody that has ever attempted to get a sound out of one would know why. Mastering great tone and intonation is by far the biggest problem any piccolo player will come across.
I'm no virtuoso in other instruments on the top of list like violin and french horn but I hope the people that created this list see the true difficulty of this instrument, although it is a very hard instrument to play but can play great music when played by a professional. The instrument is just so small it is near impossible to get a nice resonate tone from the piccolo.
To play a single note you need a lot of air, most people would think that the instrument is so small that much air would not need as much air which for most instruments is true but for cross blown flutes much more air is necessary even for the smallest of flutes. With piccolo, anybody would know that this is the smallest instrument in the orchestra therefore, plays notes that are ...more

V 19 Comments
15 Trombone

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

People think the trombone isn't hard. Well it is, I've been playing piano my entire life starting at the age of 4 with lessons, because I've gotten so used to piano I was so alienated from the idea of actually having to move your lips a certain way just to make it the proper pitch and tune considering with piano you press one key and boom music happens if you match the right notes. Going into trombone for my band option was actually quite an adjustment, I found it fairly difficult, especially with making the right buzz and even more especially considering the trombone although played in bass clef can go pretty high and pretty low. It was also extremely difficult to me as never before has my body experienced such a lack of air just to complete 4 bars.

I playbthe trombone I think this is the esay intrument but at the same time is hard to play super high notes and low note u will need the righ positions and lips

V 80 Comments
16 Accordion Accordion Accordions are a family of box-shaped musical instruments of the bellows-driven free-reed aerophone type, colloquially referred to as a squeezebox.

Playing accordion is like having to play two instrument at once, and not being able to see properly what either of your hands are doing so having to play by touch. In the right hand you have the keyboard, which is fine enough coming from a piano background, but in the right hand you have a shed-load of tiny bass buttons which each do something different. Having to pump the bellows adds an extra degree of difficulty. I've been playing piano for 9 years, I also sing, play guitar, bass, drums, a bit of sax, and some classical strings, and I've also tried organ and harpsichord, but accordion is without a doubt the most difficult

I recently took up the button accordion and I have to say of all the instruments I have experienced, this is by far the most difficult. The button accordion in my opinion is far more difficult to lay that the piano accordion. Each button on the button accordion plays two different notes depending on if you're pushing or pulling on the bellows. It plays much like a harmonica. I have the Hohner Panther which is a 3 row button accordion, and it has 12 bass keys. It's tricky to learn but very rewarding.

It is the Hardest to play. Both hands doing completely something different at the same time and you are using the bellows not only to produce the sound but for expression. And it is 30 lbs hanging of you back. It is on the top 2 hardest instruments. Not many people stick with. Need to build up endurance not to mention never ever seeing you 120 bass notes.

What was stated is a true fact. It is a blindman's orchestra even if you have bright eye sight. Eventhough you are playing the accordion with great difficulty, the pleasure you are getting by hearing the tone will be fantastic. I am 65 years old and only now I started practising a biginners accordion because of its versatility.

R.RAMACHANDRAN, CHENNAI, INDIA.

V 13 Comments
17 Trumpet

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

What? Trumpet below trombone? We need to fix this! Compared to "physical" instruments that require touch or finger placement, the trumpet is more difficult an instrument to play because it requires correct tongue arch level for different ranges, and change in and control of the airstream in addition to the memorization of valve combinations. There is also the build up of micro muscle that are required of the trumpet that is more extreme than any other western instrument aside from Frenchhorn (which is comparable, but the proximity of partials makes the instrument's range more accessible). The Trombone and other low brass family instruments use larger muscle groups creating better endurance and recovery from playing. It also makes low brass instruments easier comeback instrument. When playing a woodwind instrument, most utilize a fixed embouchure that requires less muscle build up than brass instruments.

Trumpet is by far the hardest instrument to play and master- you ...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 love the trumpet. However, it is very hard to play. One wrong note and everything can go wrong. You have to pattern and very swiftly change your fingers on the three keys and make sure they are very well oiled. The hardest part is moving your lips and tongue to make different notes and can sometimes strain your head! Lip slurs are VERY hard.

V 123 Comments
18 Didgeridoo

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!

THERE IS A HARDER INSTERMENT!

V 5 Comments
19 Percussion

Percussion looks easy, but in reality it really is difficult. Take for example the triangle, a seemingly easy instrument to play, this notion is wrong, you have to hit the triangle at a specific angle in a specific place in order for it to have the correct sound, if you get either of those wrong, your triangle will sound horrible. The thing about percussion is that it has so many instruments to learn how to play and each one is so varied and deep, in my percussion class, we spent 2 hours talking about the different ways of how to play a tambourine, different techniques, when to use each technique, what their effect is, etc. Many percussion parts require the player to play multiple percussion instruments. It gets difficult when one song requires you to play 6 mallet marimba, shakere, and bongos. How about those percussion instruments that aren't even instruments, but the composer decided to put them in the song, for example figuring out how to play spoons, chains and washboard. Or a ...more

I am a percussionist in my high school and I just started playing 6 months ago and every time we get a new piece there is always some other instrument we have to master. Most of the instruments are not difficult to learn just hard to master and when you start to do well in a piece, its time to learn a new one.

Everyone underestimates how hard percussion can be. It isn't just hitting a drum or a cymbal once in a while. You need to be able to learn difficult rhythms, and also you need to be a lot more independent. You need to keep your own place most of the time and cannot rely on other people. (go percussionists :P)

I envy the drummers of several bands I like, ESPECIALLY in brutal death metal and slam. - Metalhead1997

V 6 Comments
20 Classical 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.

You have to study for years to play something that sounds like beginners piano. Besides, most friends and family member will discourage you from doing your excercises and tell you that should just chord the thing while they sing.

V 14 Comments
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