My five tips for learning an instrument
Benedetti (Nicola)
Source: BBC: Clip from Woman’s Hour, 05 June 2019
Paper - Abstract

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I’ve given the introduction and transcript below in full. Any thoughts I myself have appear as footnotes. These footnotes are the purpose of recording these “Five Tips”, so that I can reflect on how and why I’m learning the oboe.

Introductory Text

  1. Do you want to pick up the piano again or learn the violin? Do you wish that you could play a piece of music in front of your friends and family1?
  2. Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti CBE was interviewed on Woman's Hour2 in June and she had some fantastic tips for learning an instrument.
  3. Watch the video to hear her five pieces of advice and take heart from her message: "For anybody learning an instrument, I know it can be difficult, trust me I know it can be difficult3. But I would say persevere because it will never be a waste of time4 in your life."

The Five Tips5
  1. Start off with patience and slowly6don’t expect7 to run a race before you can walk.
  2. Do your research about the best possible teaching. Those early few experiences are really so important for several reasons:-
    1. To get your physicality and therefore your physical connection to your instrument as natural and as pure as it possibly can be, and
    2. You want to fall deep in love with music very quickly.
    So the right teaching and learning environment can allow you to establish those two things.
  3. Look at all the fundamental building blocks of music away from your instrument and make that a part of your initial learning of music. So, things like how melody, harmony and rhythm work. There are so many ways that you can learn about those things that don’t relate to all the complicated things of learning your instrument, but they will make your musicianship so much better and therefore make playing your instrument more fun.
  4. Get into the habit of practicing little but often. Frequently, people have one lesson a week, and they will just pick up their instrument the day before the lesson and that is very counter-productive. Because what’s happening every time you practice is that your hands are developing tiny little muscle-memory ideas for how to get around your instrument. If you do that for just a short period of time but do it every day you’ll actually improve much faster and therefore playing your instrument will be much more fun in a shorter space of time.
  5. Immerse yourself in as much music as possible. That can be trying to go to live performances, listening to music in all kinds of different forms and trying to explore as much as you possibly can – find the sound that you really love and that makes you feel something. It’s going to help you to remember what it feels like to hear that music and be moved by it and then you’ll try to put that emotion into your instrument. For me that was the biggest inspiration when I started playing – I was so moved by music; I wanted then to make other people feel that.


See BBC - Nicola Benedetti - My five tips for learning an instrument.

In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1: Footnote 2: Footnote 3: Footnote 4: Footnote 5: Footnote 6: Footnote 7:

Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)

  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2023
  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)

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