Hardest Instruments to Play

The Top Ten
1 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 am trying to learn violin. I have been trying for 7 years now and I still can't say I'm good at it. Maybe it's just me, but it is IMPOSSIBLE!

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'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

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 how hard ...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.

2 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.

Piano is hard and these are my reasons. Firstly, piano requires both hands and on different clefs. The keys are close to each other so if you slip, you done. You might say for harp, but harp is vertical and a little bit more spaced out. I play harp and piano, so I know the two instruments. To make an accident on harp is to mute the vibration. To make an accident on the piano is moving finger a little move off. So overall, flat out piano is the hardest instrument.

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

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 sharp. Despite ...more

People who say piano is easy because "you just press and it sounds" clearly haven't played up to a high level. You don't just press one note. Every finger in both hands must be independently coordinated- sometimes you are playing triplet thirds against leaping semiquavers between both hands. All while pedalling clearly, memorising these notes and fingerings, controlling the tone of each and every note. Just compare the scores of the hardest piano piece to the hardest violin or horn or clarinet piece and it's not even a close competition except for maybe violin. The amount of skill required to not only play Ravel Gaspard at home let alone perform on a different piano can't be surpassed. People play a few pop songs on piano and conclude it's an easy instrument. That's an insult to true masters of the Piano.

3 French Horn

I've played piano for about 45 years and horn for about 37 years, so I'm fairly proficient on both... and I can say horn is by far the hardest. I've also noodled around on virtually every other wind and string instrument and can crank out a rough melody on just about anything after trying for a few minutes. I can tell you from my experience that horn is by far harder than double reed or string or any other orchestral or keyboard instrument. Here's one way to tell which is harder: take any proficient horn player and proficient violin player and swap instruments, choose a simple lyrical melody, and after an hour of noodling around let's hear who can get through that simple melody most successfully. Hands down, the horn player will win nearly every time.

French horn by far is the hardest to play. It took my son many months to even get familiar with hitting the right notes. If you are beginning, it might be best to start on trumpet & get familiar with that before advancing to French horn. His band teacher told him this after a year of playing, laugh out loud. This instrument takes a lot of practice & self-discipline in order to really make the sound beautiful, but you can do it. This instrument takes a lot of lip control & blowing or you will be hitting wrong notes remember, there are only 3 fingers unlike that of a flute or clarinet. If a child gets really frustrated with, maybe switch them to a different instrument or maybe they find blowing into an instrument challenging. In that case you always have strings, drums, or piano. Music is beautiful- just don't give up on it.

I am a French horn player. I have played most of the instruments out there, and by far the French horn was the most difficult to me! However, my mom said I always had a natural thing with French horns, not to mention, all of my family has played the French horn; so I was kinda born into it! I have worked with a handful of major league conductors, and they all claimed that the French horn is the hardest instrument to play! And this is why. French horns have a tendency of close notes, now everyone is probably questioning it. Close notes on a French horn is probably the most hardest, because there are three keys. That's not it, because you have to use your lips to adjust the sound on a small mouth piece, however, on a violin there are strings and they don't have to use your mouth nor a mouth piece! Not everyone has the lips to play a French horn. Most techniques such as, articulation, pitch, rhythm, skill, and much more is probably other difficult and most hardest parts of the French ...more

As a person who plays both horn and piano, I have to say horn takes quite a bit more effort. I have to build up strength over days, and if I can't practices for more than three days I can loose the top 5 notes and bottom 3 from my range, plus my tone goes out the window. It's really a commitment to play well. Also if you have braces like I do, plus that tiny mouthpiece, they cut into your lips at the slightest pressure, so you have to have a really strong embouchure, just so that you don't need to press the high notes.

They're fairly expensive, and there aren't really many lower priced student level instruments like with many other common band instruments, but you also usually start on it, instead of graduating to the more expensive and difficult instruments (like how many students who play oboe start out as clarinet players, at least where I'm from). Because of that, I've been playing for 6 years but I know I won't get my own horn until I graduate (another year and a half from ...more

I can relate to that. I am both a pianist and horn player myself. I started horn in 6th grade and am currently in 8th grade. Horn does take more effort and requires a keen "intonation ear".

4 Oboe Oboes belong to the classification of double reed woodwind instruments. Oboes are usually made of wood, but there are also oboes made of synthetic materials.

Oh, gosh! I think this should be number one! I will listen to objections on my opinion. But... This is out of my experience. I do not know the ins-and-outs of the Violin, But I'll have my beliefs. I've been playing for about two and a half years. And although my band director says I'm one of the strongest players out of the entire 80 kids in band lessons, playing the oboe is just summed up to be difficult. Keeping the reed from breaking by keeping it moist is an absolute pain, and when they do occasionally break, they cost about 10 dollars for one, at least at my music store. But the oboe's just too special for me to give up playing it, its got a special sound to it that no other instrument can achieve.

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

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've been playing oboe for nearly 5 years now, as well as piano for 7 years and alto/tenor (same fingerings) sax for 2 years. Oboe (I've heard) is by far the most difficult instrument but in reality, it all comes down to who's playing the instrument. I've never had a private lesson on any of these instruments and I can truly say that it all comes down to focus an how comfortable you are at playing an instrument in general. One of the biggest problems I find, is that because this is a double reeded instrument, you have to exhale as well as inhale. With the saxophone, you exhale by blowing through the mouthpiece and playing your piece of music. With oboe, because the opening in the reed is so small, you have to exhale just like you would inhale to get all of the carbon dioxide out of your lungs. I have auditions for a band next week and with my audition excerpt, I have this problem. All in all, if you learn to master breathing on any double reeded instrument, you shouldn't have any ...more

5 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.

This is actually quite surprising for me actually, I would have easily believed that the flute was in the top three (*3) most difficult instruments to play. However, you should note that there is a difference in simply 'playing' and 'on the road to mastering' this instrument. I have been playing flute at an intermediate level for 20 years. I have also been playing the Piccolo and Bass Flute for roughly 14 years. I can say, if you want to test someone's ability to play the Flute well, hand them a Piccolo. This is where you intonation and skill will be prevalent. I found, after playing the Flute for several years, that the mastery of the embouchure did not come until I started playing Piccolo. I found the Piccolo to not me as forgiving to make airy mistakes seem like an 'oopsy-daisy' - but an ear piercing routine of discipline that would punish anyone close to me. It was an experience that I have to say made me become more versed in Flute as an initial instrument. In fact, I become so ...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.

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

Flute need all of the correct articulations, a clear sound, and correct fingerings in order to even get a quality sound. That's not to mention the time put into making all of this happen. You also have to hold in an awkward positioning for long periods of time. The scales are a must learn and the tempo is usually quick and we need to be exact and sharp.

Also not to mention that just because our instruments are small people think that it's easy. We don't get enough recognition. Our instruments are also made fun of just because we have to hold them up and to the side.

I can only wonder how the other instrument players would react to know that we have to use more air than any other instrument... Including the tuba.

6 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!

I play the drums, and it's really hard once you first learn it, then it starts to become easier, but you are still learning tough peaces as you are getting better.

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.

7 Organ

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.

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

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

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.

8 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.

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 tedious learning ...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 have played the violin, tuba, and the electric guitar, and I have found that the electric guitar is definitely the HARDEST instrument to play. There's the acoustic guitar, and the acoustic is harder at the beginning, but it should take a shorter time to master acoustic because it doesn't have as many tricks as electric. There are... Like dozens, maybe HUNDREDS of different styles, techniques, etc. On an electric guitar. I don't think the violin should be at the top. Have you ever seen a guy shredding ultra fast on a violin? There is also only one style to master on the violin: classical. Only a guitar has the difficulty of shredding, tapping, multiple styles and lots more. 24 frets and 6 strings is a LOT harder than an instrument with 4 strings. The only other instrument that might have the same difficulty as the guitar is the piano since there's so many buttons on that thing.

I'd say that electric guitar has a very high difficulty to learn. I've been playing for 3 years now, and the only reason I'm as good as I am is because I locked myself in my room for 3-4 hours a night. Once you get past the burning callouses and dents in your fingertips, there is still a very huge world of things you haven't learned. In guitar, the string arrangements are yet confusing at first, and hard to get a grasp on. Keep in mind also that guitar chords take form in shapes almost, and you have to have to have good muscle memory to do, unlike the piano, which all you do is separate your fingers more accordingly. And there are so many different scales you can use to solo, different chord forms, chord progressions, and picking techniques that affect the difficulty.

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

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

Cello is hard but has a rich, pleasing sound. Each instruments have their own challenges and such, but the cello has two major difficulties that combine into a very hard technique to master: playing the right notes in tune while having it in a upright position leaning against your front while sitting down. This requires a special form of hand and arm that can't be fully extended, unlike the violin/viola and can't be bent fully, unlike the bass. The cello also requires a bow stroke that extends your arm in a 90 degree angle but folds in like a wing while coming down. I've played all string instruments, as a symphony conductor, but I think the cello is the hardest of all. I majored in oboe, though, but other than simple techniques and sound enhancement there wasn't much to it. The violin requires a lot more technical efforts that take a while to master, and the cello even more than the violin.

Every instrument is hard, the piano is easier at first, because it sounds good and tuned when you press a key, to produce sound with a cello is difficult, not to mention the correct pitch. The cello has the widest range of the string family and the same or similar difficulties as any string players have. Nonetheless, even though the piano must be easier, the music pieces they have to play can be very complex, so, is it really an instrument more difficult than another? It depends on what you want to play. Twinkle twinkle little star is harder in a cello than a piano, playing chords is also harder, but, playing two melodies at the same time, is something unique and also difficult.

I play the cello and have the opinion that stringed instruments are more difficult to play than all others. All musical instruments are a challenge and good performance will not be easy. However, stringed instruments require two techniques that set them apart. The first is intonation: your fingers must be in the proper place to get a good sound, and the second is shifting: moving your hand up the fingerboard to play the desired notes. Combined, these two important techniques will make stringed instruments quite a challenge to play. In addition to this there is vibrato and things that must be done with the bow to get a good sound out of the instrument.

10 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

I've been piping for almost four years! It is an amazing thine to try. It is extremely difficult and I passed out the first time I played the bagpipe. There are SOOO many things you have to do at one time like a grip or a birl with several grace notes. The reeds are nearly impossible to break into once you need a new one. And the drones slip up and down while you are playing which can mess up a band in a competition. My chanter has fallen out quite a few times one time including being at the worlds.

I find it a little disappointing that people think that the violin, guitar, the flute, and the piano are more difficult then the piano. It took me about about seven months to master the violin while the bagpipes took me a year and a half. I learned how to play the guitar withing two weeks. The flute took me six months and the piano took me a year. The harp is much more difficult than the violin and so is the mandolin. I feel like everybody is just voting on their preference in ...more

The Contenders
11 Piccolo

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.

I play several instruments - the flute, guitar, piano, and alto sax, just to name a couple - but out of all of them, the piccolo is definitely the hardest to play. It's like the flute... But worse. Since it's so tiny, it is so loud, meaning that the smallest intonation difficulty is blatant. And of course, there's the fact that even getting the notes out is always a struggle. You guys thought playing the flute was hard? (Which oddly is rated higher than piccolo) Right. Multiply all the problems, guys, and you get this little package. Air support? You need tons of it, like triple that of a flute. And then the air stream itself needs to be miniscule or you will be greeted by a terrible shriek that makes any dog howl.

Maybe the piccolo is not the hardest instrument, but it most definitely is harder than some of the instruments above. Seriously, guys. You must be kidding me. Why is the flute, drum, and piano rated above the piccolo? Just because they're common doesn't mean they're ...more

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

12 Trumpet A trumpet is a blown musical instrument commonly used in classical and jazz ensembles. The trumpet group contains the instruments with the highest register in the brass family.

The trumpet is easily one of the hardest instruments. First off, they have the lead role in many bands and songs and have to have good tone, range, embouchure, technique, and more, since they stand out in the band. Second, you have to move your three fingers swiftly, and combined with the tonguing, the active kicker slides (if you use it), endurance of your lips, the ability to play high notes, staying in tune, blending, and more, it makes the trumped an extremely tough instrument. It is not hard to do at first, but once you get started, it goes uphill from there. Finally, there are so many styles and uses for trumpets to explore, such as jazz, marching, Latin, rock, symphonic orchestras, and other things like bugling.

The trumpet requires the user to be able to move their fingers quickly whilst simultaneously reading and requires the use of the diaphragm to move up and down as there are only three valves. If played wrong it could lead to burst blood vessels or even burst cheek muscles like Dizzy Gillespie. Excluding all the other techniques you can perform on this instrument like vibrato, double or triple tonguing that's moving the tongue ridiculously fast you also have the use of the slides. This helps the tuning of the instrument. For example, playing a c# would require the movement of a slide to get the note in tune. That being said it isn't the most difficult in the brass family as the French horn is a lot harder it should definitely be higher on the list.

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

13 Clarinet

I think the clarinet is the one hardest instrument because I have played for 6 years and I have won all- State and a lot of rewards. Some other reasons why the clarinet is the hardest instrument is because u break your reed and then u will Squeak and people will laugh at u if they realize it. That is why reeds can make it hard. Some other reasons why clarinet is hard is because if u don’t play the right note then it will sound bad. But we all mess up and/ or can be good. I mess up a lot but otherwise I am really good. That is why I think the clarinet in the hardest instrument but flute is probably harder than clarinet because I have played it to. I have played most all the instruments in band. My hole family was in band. BAND FAMM

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.

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

I've played the clarinet for about 2 years now. I am very good at it but it can take me weeks before I get a song just perfect. I auditioned for my 5th grade honors band and when I got the songs I felt very intimidated. One of the songs was very hard for me. It was William Tell Overture. I couldn't if my life depended on it, play that fast. So when the concert came I just played as fast as I could but I failed with that song miserably. And even though I didn't squeak, there were some squeaks in the concert. You never know when you going to squeak. It's always a hit or miss with squeaks. And if you don't squeak and your your hand placement is off you won't make a sound at all. And since clarinets are quiet instruments, you need to be spot on. Clarinets are one of the hardest instruments I've played in my life.

14 Bassoon

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.

I play oboe. My friend plays bassoon. Oboe is up on that list, and for good reason, but I think bassoon is harder. They have to deal with all of the wooden instrument humidity problems and double reed issues, but along with all of this, they have thumb keys. Oboe just has the six main holes and about ten keys that play all of the notes. Bassoonists have to push different keys with their thumbs. I don't really want to know how difficult that is, seeing as I'm still figuring out which of the four keys on the bottom of a clarinet is which. They also need to have a seat strap to keep their instrument up and must hold it a certain way so that the weight of the instrument doesn't injure their hand. According to my friend, at a rehearsal, a fellow bassoonist broke her hand from the pressure the instrument was putting on it. All oboists have to do is worry about never putting the instrument down if it might be stepped on or fall, which bassoonists also need to consider. Coming from a fellow ...more

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

I am a bassoonist, pianist, violinist and percussionist and I have achieved my grade 8 on all of them and the bassoon is easily the hardest. The violin and piano have probably the hardest repertoire but the bassoon requires a lot of patience to get a nice sound and play it in tune. It also has the most thumb work more than any any other instrument with 9 keys only accessible to the left thumb and it is often required to press two and sometimes three keys done with the left thumb. The reed is also determines the sound the instrument produces often making the instrument out of tune. It has probably more exposed and orchestral solos than any other instrument which can put a huge amount of pressure on the first bassoonist but it has probably the best overall sound than any other classical musical instrument.

15 Harp The harp is a stringed musical instrument that has a number of individual strings running at an angle to its soundboard; the strings are plucked with the fingers.

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).

As a professional harpist, I'd 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.

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!

Belongs near the top of the list. Maintaining correct hand position, correct articulation to produce good tone, anticipating and pre-placing before playing the strings... Much more difficult on the harp than the piano, for example, although you can play nearly the same music. You do need to understand music theory because you can expect to do your own transcriptions and arrangements of things you hanker to play. Not so many composers want to write for us because a best seller might sell, maybe 50 copies.

16 Viola

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)

As a beginner violist, I still have a lot to learn, but I can tell you now it's NOT an easy ride! Violists 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 especially 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.

Viola was my first instrument. And honestly viola doesn't get as much credit as cello and especially violin. But for me, the viola expresses my inner feelings and thoughts than the violin (no offense to any violinists out there) it has that deep tone that expresses my feelings perfectly. And people say that the violin is harder but that is simply false. I have tried the violin before and honestly it was not bad but to me the viola is harder. I don't know why this is the 11 hardest instrument and violin is number 1. People don't even know what's a viola. The viola is a very unique instrument and I wanna play it for the rest of my life. To me, no one can top the 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

17 Trombone

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.

Honestly it should be much higher than #14 due to the fact that we can never really get it perfect ALL of the time, you have to constantly keep your ears in check with the band to see if you're really playing the right note because sometimes we'll play just a little bit above position 3, or maybe just below position 6. Keep in mind the things we have to do all at once while playing trombone, we have to make a right buzz, tongue right, may I mention slurring is EXTREMELY hard, constantly be adjusting our slides and tuners, requires quite a lot of air. after playing I always find my chest sometimes hurt, and my lips feel close to numb.

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

18 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.

I tried playing classical guitar which a friend lent me before buying an electric guitar (I ended up buying a Yamaha pacifica). The classic guitar was so much more awkward to play than the electric. With the electric guitar the guitar is much more thinner so your not leaning over the front of the guitar to find where everything is all the time. I initially started playing guitar by playing with Guitar Hero/Rock Band, I know it's not the same but it does have the basics there. I then had a go with my friends classical guitar before investing in a proper electric guitar myself. The electric guitar I've been learning on I've been using Rocksmith on the PC. At times this can be quite hard, and usually I find myself playing in the bass emulated mode as a bass guitar is far more easier as with bass you only have four strings to deal with and very few chords. I'm getting quite good at Moonlight Shadow by Mike Oldfield in bass (one of my favourite Mike Oldfield tracks) but I keep looking at ...more

19 Vibraphone

Definitely mallets percussion are not easy, your hands do not touch directly the instrument, there is a lot of horizontal movement involved, the parts are standing far away from you and your eyes are looking simultaneously to the keyboard, the part and the conductor. It requires advanced drumming skills plus the ability of improvise, understand harmony, playing notes. While you get a saxophone, you don't need to look at your fingers, you can just look at the part, and you make one note at the time. You can feel the instrument with the fingers. However, saxophone holds different obstacles, like any other instruments it is hard on his own way. There are no easy instruments out there. Just play and play and spend hours enjoying it. Don't worry about the outcomes they will come. That's the secret. Play and play and enjoy it. And if for one year you can take a sabbatical, take your instrument and play it all day for 4-6 12 hours a day. Even fooling around with it, you will learn. The more ...more

Imagine a piano. With a pedal. Add in all of your percussion skills. Now imagine reading piano music, but only being able to plsy in your periphiral vision. THIS IS HARD.

Doesn't percussion include vibraphone?

I payed the vibe for an entire marching season... needles to say my face got burnt at band camp. hard to play

20 Banjo

While I agree that other instruments may be harder to play, the 5-string banjo is definitely in the top 10. Because you have to memorize rolls, different ways to play the same chords, it is one of the hardest instruments to play. I have played bagpipes, harmonica, acoustic and electric guitar, and the bugle, and I am convinced that the banjo is the hardest of these. If you mess up a note, there is no way to hide it, because it is so noticeable; therefore, you have to perfect hammer-ons, pull-offs, bends, and basically play perfectly, all while making sure you are wearing your finger picks the right way.

Banjo is the top number one hardest instrument to play. You have to learn how to play a chord different ways for each key. You have to learn many rolls, really get down your timing (which takes forever, but the person how has timing down the most in the world might be Earl Scruggs), and you have to learn a song different for each key. The most important is... Your fingers can't all be doing the same thing at once. Two have to be on the body while three are on the strings. The technique is impossble and you sometimes have to go the opposite of what people clap (the beat). All in all, the banjo is the hardest instrument in the world to play!

Banjo is absolutely the hardest instrument in the world to play. Managing multiple rolls per song while managing multiple chord combinations in the same song, by itself makes it much more difficult than any other string instrument. Not to mention the off beat timing that is required for many songs. Absolutely the hardest.

The 5-string banjo should up there higher in the list than guitar, for sure in my opinion. The speed and timing is so important. And with many hammer on and pull offs required in playing one song is staggering. And having to memorise all these things and nail the timing, takes immense skill

21 Quad Drums

I plan on playing quad drums for my highschool band. From what I see, it doesn't look like it's all fun and games. I was expecting quads to be higher up there.

Quads are extremely hard you have to play crazy rudiments along with them on diffrent drums. The are very hard to match there heaven in very unstable

22 Claves

Simple as can be

They are so easy!

Seems difficult

23 Tuba

I haven't been playing the Tuba for that long, but I did originally play the Baritone/Euphonium. The Tuba is one of those instruments that you have to use a lot of air and you have to focus on tonguing a lot more. Being someone who has asthma, it's a bit more harder to play the instrument. The Tuba is a lot more difficult than people think. After playing the Tuba, sometimes I have to make sure I don't pass out haha. It is similar to the Baritone but different. There are plenty more notes and partials on a Tuba than a Baritone. Th partials are always the trickiest things to master. Especially getting those high notes is hard, but the low notes can be just as hard.

Been playing tuba for close to four years now, and I would definitely say that tuba is one of the more tricky to learn instruments out there. The rest of the band can goof off while doing breathing exercises, but if we want to be able to play above a mezzo, then breathing simply is a must. Articulation is very difficult, and at a high tempo, it is incredibly difficult to have notes come out cleanly. (The fudging chromatic scale). It is also incredibly difficult to begin on, since all notes sound like farts until you get to a level where air is steady enough to tune. (At which point it sounds unbelievably beautiful.)

Tuba is a great instrument, but it is hard to play. Not only is it hard to find a DECENT tuba playing instructor, it is hard to find online classes, help, or sheet music. We are also laughed at for the way it sounds. It takes lots of air to play correctly and loudly enough. It is not very fun it play whole notes either, and actually very hard to do the oompah part in marches without the band director complaining. Double buzz, cleaning, low notes, and high notes are another big problem. Let's not forget that this is one of the biggest insturments out there. Very hard to carry at times. As a FEMALE tuba player, I get judged people say my playing is worse. This is a great but very hard instrument. Don't think it is easy because it seems comical.

People are saying that some of the top 10 are the hardest. Please. Tuba is harder then guitar. I even learned to beat box on my tuba and circular breath yet a guitar you don't need to breath to make a note. After 15 years of tuba and 2 years of guitar I would say tuba is harder then guitars. Its not the hardest but it needs a lot of air and has notes way under the staff and above the staff. Even a trumpet which is higher then tuba don't have this issues. Tuba should be higher then 80.

24 Marimba

Should be in the top 2! Mallet percussion instruments take so much talent to play, take piano music, and make it more difficult. Two mallets is hard enough on any of these mallet percussion instruments, (except the tubular bell/chimes) other times you have to play with four mallets, and occasionally with six! I don't see any reason for any other instrument to complain that it's hard, these mallet percussion instruments take the cake. I've played for four years, I can play with four mallets, and it's still very hard. Now if you ask me to play 8th notes at a tempo of 200, I'll be pretty good at it, if you make me play with four mallets, I'll struggle, and six mallets are just plain insane! I've seen few songs with the need for three mallets in either hand, but I'll tell you, they look almost impossible to play..

Marimba should be higher up on the scale. Take a piano, make it big, then put mallets in the player's hands. Now you have a marimba and a soloist. Doing slow things on this instrument is pretty easy, but the faster you go, the harder it gets. I've been playing for 4 years now and I can barely move the mallets fast enough to play 16 notes. Now make it four mallets, I give up.

Marimbas are a form of mallet percussion, which is harder than you think. You have to concentrate on 2 things: the notes AND the dynamics. Not to mention keeping your eye on the conductor or drum majors! And 4 mallets is just perplexing! It is fun to play, but it is NOT a piece of cake.

I play marimba and it's like playing the piano only a little bigger and you have usually two mallets to hit the notes with its like a xylophone. It's not too hard I started in 4th grade and I'm in 9th grade now I can play with four mallets so it's not that easy.

I also play with Stevens grip (between middle finger and ring finger), and you're right, you do get calluses from it.

25 Harmonica

To play this instrument is one thing. To play it well is something else entirely. A single hole in a 10 hole Diatonic can play up to 5 different notes that can be achieved by bending. Bending a note requires lots and lots of practice to change the flow of air in your mouth as is passes through the harmonica. Other techniques such as vibrato require absolute control over one's breathing and even posture (much like a vocalist). Even playing a single note can often sound shabby without necessary practice. There may be harder instruments to play, but this is one of the hardest to master in my opinion.

When I found this site, cowbell beats harmonica? Bull.

Harmonica is incredibly difficult. Newbies whine about even getting single notes to sound clearly -- and this can go on for months. After that comes bending notes -- that can take months to even get it to happen (it will sound terrible, but it happens). Then there's the effort of getting that bent note to sound proper. Holes can bend one, two, or three half steps. This all happens on the lower end of the harmonica because the upper end requires another technique called blow bending. This will also take a long time to even get it to happen -- let alone make it sound good. Slide back down to the lower end, and you can do something called overblowing. Slide back up to the upper end and you can do overdrawing. Then there's vibrato, warbles, double stops, chords, octave stops, and a whole slew of other techniques.

A cowbell is not harder than this.

First of all I agree partially with many people that think The harmonica is the easiest instrument because you can easily produce a good (well, not bad) note on it. It's fun to play the harmonica, trust me you will enjoy it because whereever, whenever you want to play music, you can get it from your pocket and play it instantly. The tricks are you should be able to breath sufficiently to play, you should know when to blow and when to draw in the right holes. If you play the chromatic you should also master the button.

There are so many techniques in chroms. They are: bending, slide jab, vibrato, chord playing, toungue blocking, octave blocking, etc. Playing a long draw note and playing many draw notes are very hard on harmonica. I think playing a good music with dynamics and all aspects of music is very hard (but can be done of course) on harmonica. You can try the harmonica especially the chromatic one and learn to play the classical pieces (watch on youtube: classical ...more

Absolutely hardest instrument I know - and I play several instruments. When you want to play chromatically on a standard blues harp, this requires an incredible skill level and a lot of patience. Just intonating normal blues bends are already difficult. Playing overblows are insanely difficult - mastering them takes many years.
Add to that the lack of general knowledge on the instrument and lack of fellow musicians or instructors.
If you want to go any deeper than your classic folk song - good luck!

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