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Thread: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

  1. #101
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar View Post
    Ok, I asked cuz my mom has a (very nice and expensive) silver flute, but I couldn't even hold it up last time I tried to play it. I would rather play a wooden one (I have a bamboo piccolo tuned the same as an Irish whistle in C) but I don't have one. Was just wondering should I try to learn on my mom's flute, or wait and play Irish whistle meanwhile?
    If your goal is to end up playing a wooden (or Delrin) "Irish" flute, then I'd suggest starting on your Mom's silver flute instead of whistle.

    You won't have to make many adjustments if you get an Irish flute later on. A big part of the early learning curve on any type of flute is embouchure development; training all those small muscles around your mouth to make the correct shapes, which are actually different for each note pitch. That can take years, and in fact you never stop working on embouchure. It's completely different from playing a whistle. Whistle will give you a jump start on fingering, ornaments, and breathing, but not what to do with your mouth.

    A silver/Boehm with keys is also fully chromatic, which means you could easily shift into playing Jazz, Blues, Rock, Classical, or other styles and not just Irish trad. The "Irish" flute is also chromatic when it has keys, but it tends to be used more narrowly for Irish, Scottish, Breton, and related styles. Something to think about.

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  3. #102
    Registered User Gunnar's Avatar
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    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    Ok, I'll see about starting learning that, is the fingerings similar enough to use the OAIM flute course? I also play harmonica, Trumpet and bamboo piccolo, so I'm familiar with the difficulty/training of embouchure
    Mandolin: Kentucky KM150
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  4. #103
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar View Post
    Ok, I'll see about starting learning that, is the fingerings similar enough to use the OAIM flute course? I also play harmonica, Trumpet and bamboo piccolo, so I'm familiar with the difficulty/training of embouchure
    I can't remember exactly how the fingering differs (I once had a Gemeinhardt silver flute a long, long time ago and it didn't "stick"). Look online for fingering charts and that well tell you. There are Irish flute fingering charts on Terry McGee's web site, as well as a ton of useful information on the history and mechanics of Irish flute on that web site.

    A practical example: Last night we hosted a regional band GallowGlass for a house concert in our home. They spent the night, and I had a chance to talk to the singer, who is just starting on Irish flute. She had previously played Classical flute, and is now using a Casey Burns "Folk Flute" in the band, just slowly getting into it. We traded some tips after breakfast, and she didn't seem to be having any problems with the fingering transition from Classical/silver flute to a wooden Irish flute. She was mainly looking for info on how to start with ornaments, so we spent some time on that.

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  6. #104

    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    Wood flute is in D. The F natural (first finger, right hand) on a metal flute (keyed in C) is an F# on a wood flute.

    I grew up playing Boehm flute (but only casually as my primary was sax), and when I went to wood flute 35 years later it was "easy": without keys the playing is very fast, ornaments seem "natural." Of course it's also challenging in that you must be precise in technique - covering the holes with fingers...you don't have that challenge with keys as they do that work of covering the holes.

    Caveat - I suppose being a clarinet player helped me as I was accustomed to open hole woodwinds..

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  8. #105
    Registered User majorbanjo's Avatar
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    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    The first instrument you learn to play is the hardest....

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  10. #106
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    Quote Originally Posted by majorbanjo View Post
    The first instrument you learn to play is the hardest....
    Probably true if your first instrument is learned later in life. If your first instrument was learned as a child, it may not seem that hard. I started piano lessons at age 6 and don't remember it being that difficult, I just hated being forced to take lessons when I would rather be outside playing. Kids don't have the same degree of self-criticism and comparison with others that you build up as an adult. So you don't know you suck at first.


    At least that was true in the past. These days, with everyone comparing themselves to their peers on social media even from a fairly young age, it may be different.

  11. #107
    String-Bending Heretic mandocrucian's Avatar
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    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    Mel Bay's The Essential Guide to Irish Flute and Tin Whistle by Gray Larson

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    This is the book to get for Irish flute ornamentation etc. There have been several different editions,( with CDs, or online audio). $30-40. Some of the exercises are on the OCD side, but that's really no different than anally-retentive classical flute technical exercises, imo. But you can easily get the gist of what/how to do, and to what degree of "authenticity" you want to achieve is up to you.

    Personally I don't care about adhering to some particular regional style for "purity's sake". I'm playing a "C"metal flute - cause I like that sound (but I would prefer an alto flute), and do not want limitations as to what keys I play in. Plus, I like players like James Moody, Yusef Lateef, Johnny Almond, Chris Wood, Jeremy Steig, Ian Anderson, and not just Irish, Nordic or Asturian/Gallician players. (And I prefer sax doublers to (jazz) flutists who are dedicated flute players who came up through classical training. I really don't want to hear classical vibrato, articulation and that aesthetic in anything other than the genre in which it was developed (classical). I prefer to hear a flute being played like a sax.) I tend to play the sounds in my head, depending on what player has imprinted the tune on my brain. If my my ear likes Swarbrick on fiddle, or Martin Carthy on acoustic guitat, John Kirkpatrick (accordion), Santana/Hendrix (elec guitar) etc. etc. that's more-or-less how it's going to come out. (on any instrument, mando or flute ….or whatever)

    My suggestion for those contemplating buying a wooden simple system flute.....get yourself a low-D whistle (first) for $45- 125. It should give you an idea of whether you like open holes or the finger stretches etc. Besides, listen to someone like Brian Finnegan ( Flook, Kan) who's a monster player and can wring more than you ever think is possible out of the instrument. Personally, I think he slurs/articulates more like a fiddler of sax player which is why I find his playing so much expressive than hardcore ITM flutists.

    At the outset, getting a decent sound out of a flute is probably harder than getting something bearable on a fiddle, imo. But when you can get a bit better, it's probably as close as you can get to "singing on an instrument."

    Niles H

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  13. #108
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    Quote Originally Posted by mandocrucian View Post
    Mel Bay's [I][B]

    My suggestion for those contemplating buying a wooden simple system flute.....get yourself a low-D whistle (first) for $45- 125. It should give you an idea of whether you like open holes or the finger stretches etc.
    That works really well for some folks....but the embouchure is the difference. A basic keyless "Irish" flute would work better for many Boehm flute player. Additionally, the finger stretches for low d whistles are often harder than simple system keyless flutes.

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    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    Pedal steel guitar gets my vote. The theory alone is mind boggling with tunings that are constantly changing with combinations of pedals and knee levers...10 string necks in E9 and C6, and few pro's set up their guitars alike. Along with the picks, damping, the bar, and volume pedal i'm reminded of a drummer using all 4 limbs together. It's pretty amazing to google up the copendent charts to see what the changes are. My favorites are Weldon Myrick and Paul Franklin when teamed up with Brent Mason's telecaster, Pig Rollins' piano, Hank Singer's fiddle, Robbie Flint's acoustic slide, and Roy Husky Jr's bass on the early Alan Jackson CD's.

    And check out a little baroque/classical number Paul made up. Can be found on YouTube "Baritone Pedal Steel"
    Last edited by dan in va; Oct-13-2019 at 5:08pm.

  15. #110
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    I'd Say ... the Steel Drum,... If all you have is an old empty steel barrel..
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  16. #111
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    Quote Originally Posted by mandroid View Post
    I'd Say ... the Steel Drum,... If all you have is an old empty steel barrel..
    The hard thing is the tuning, but, if you have time...
    Timothy F. Lewis
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

  17. #112

    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    Here’s a guy who’s just done a little hike from his town onto this hill.
    He’s doing singing and playing a big fiddle with only two strings.

    Is this easier than playing the concertina? I think so.


    https://youtu.be/p_5yt5IX38I
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  19. #113
    Still Picking and Sawing Jack Roberts's Avatar
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    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    I torture myself, my dogs, and my family with violin, and although I can make notes that are almost in tune, I wouldn't represent myself as being able to play, even after 10 years. But the most impossible instrument to play I have found so far is the theremin. I built one, worked at it for a year, and finally gave up and gave it away.

    The easiest and one of the most enjoyable instruments I have found is the mountain dulcimer. What a great instrument! I built one to replace the theremin, and it is beautiful to listen to, look at, and play.
    Ha, ha! keep time: how sour sweet music is,
    When time is broke and no proportion kept!
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  20. #114

    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Roberts View Post
    The easiest and one of the most enjoyable instruments I have found is the mountain dulcimer. What a great instrument! I built one to replace the theremin, and it is beautiful to listen to, look at, and play.
    Yep dulcimer can sound very nice. And that's cool that you built one!

  21. #115
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar View Post
    Oh, I forgot to mention, yes, I play Irish (and Scottish) traditional music on mandolin and fiddle, and sometimes harmonica, guitar and even five string banjo
    Gunnar: even more interesting to me... do you play Mozambique music? Are you from there? If not, how did you end up there and what are you doing there?
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  22. #116
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    Quote Originally Posted by atsunrise View Post
    Here’s a guy who’s just done a little hike from his town onto this hill.
    He’s doing singing and playing a big fiddle with only two strings.

    Is this easier than playing the concertina? I think so.


    https://youtu.be/p_5yt5IX38I
    I don't know. I think that the instrument is deceptively difficult though it sounds simple and the throat singing is not at all easy to master. Try it sometime.
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  24. #117

    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    Sorry Jim, I wasn’t clear about. I was joking, I meant I love this music, and I think the guy’s the equivalent, but not better than Bill Monroe.
    Am also wondering how he can sing up there without oxygen!
    What a man!

    But seriously, I think you’re right, I should try it some time.
    Last edited by Simon DS; Oct-15-2019 at 2:13am.
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  25. #118
    Registered User Gunnar's Avatar
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    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Gunnar: even more interesting to me... do you play Mozambique music? Are you from there? If not, how did you end up there and what are you doing there?
    No, I don't play Mozambique music, cuz it's mostly Brazilian radio, and not very stylistically interesting to me (too much like pop and rap). I'm not originally from here, I was born in Texas, to Texan parents, but we moved to Cape town south Africa when I was six months old. We've been here in Mozambique about thirteen years now. My parents are missionaries, which is how they ended up here, and my siblings (all seven of them) and I are here cuz that's where our parents are. It's honestly a fair sight better IMHO, than growing up in the states, for various reasons
    Mandolin: Kentucky KM150
    Other instruments: way too many, and yet, not nearly enough.

    "Imagine life without mandolin. Now slap yourself! Never do it again!" -Gunnar Salyer

  26. #119
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    Quote Originally Posted by atsunrise View Post
    Sorry Jim, I wasn’t clear about. I was joking, I meant I love this music, and I think the guy’s the equivalent, but not better than Bill Monroe.
    Am also wondering how he can sing up there without oxygen!
    What a man!

    But seriously, I think you’re right, I should try it some time.
    No need to apologize. I get it and I love the video. As you might tell by my post to Gunnar, I love world musics.
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  28. #120
    Registered User Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    I get it and I love the video.
    Amen to that, Jim. This musician is amazing. I was surprised to see him using a Western-style bow, but have seen it before in this style of music from time to time.

    I'd love to be able to do throat singing but absolutely lack the skill to pull it off (hence post #7 on this thread).

    As I sat here listening to that video, I had a kitten on my lap. She perked up and purred loudly as this man began to sing. I suppose it reminded her of purring. Even a kitten finds something to love in this music. That's how I strive to be; finding something to love in the music of all cultures. Music really can bring us all together. I believe that in my heart of hearts.

    If only we all had the time and inclination to make it happen. . .one can hope.
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  29. #121
    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
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    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    This thread is starting to look like a Seinfeld show.
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  30. #122
    Front Porch & Sweet Tea NursingDaBlues's Avatar
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    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    Quote Originally Posted by atsunrise View Post
    Here’s a guy who’s just done a little hike from his town onto this hill.
    He’s doing singing and playing a big fiddle with only two strings.

    Is this easier than playing the concertina? I think so.


    https://youtu.be/p_5yt5IX38I
    Wow! I really enjoyed that!

  31. #123
    Registered User Polecat's Avatar
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    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    Quote Originally Posted by NursingDaBlues View Post
    Wow! I really enjoyed that!
    This may appeal, too
    "Give me a mandolin and I'll play you rock 'n' roll" (Keith Moon)

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  33. #124
    Still Picking and Sawing Jack Roberts's Avatar
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    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    [QUOTE=atsunrise;1739076]Here’s a guy who’s just done a little hike from his town onto this hill.
    He’s doing singing and playing a big fiddle with only two strings.

    Is this easier than playing the concertina? I think so.[ /QUOTE]

    I saw a performance hosted by Bela Fleck one Christmas, and the act had these throat singers in it. They did Jingle Bells.
    Ha, ha! keep time: how sour sweet music is,
    When time is broke and no proportion kept!
    --William Shakespeare

  34. #125

    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    Here's a word on one of the "easiest" instruments to learn - happens to reinforce my own opinion, in many respects: https://youtu.be/qbrjgvYO5dI

    * I scrolled through the comments a bit, and many of them are from folks starting in their 50s, 60s, 70s..
    Last edited by catmandu2; Oct-25-2019 at 7:01pm.

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