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Top 5 Easiest Instruments to Learn for People with Wheelchairs

Posted in: Accessible Activities, Assistive Tech & Useful Products

Learning how to play a new instrument can be extremely fulfilling. Finally perfecting that song or solo you have been working toward can be as exciting as scoring a touchdown or hitting a homerun. Luckily, there are many instruments available to people using a wheelchair with most being very easy to learn. Here is a list of the top five easiest instruments to pick up while in a wheelchair:

1. Slap some Bongos

Invented in Cuba near the turn of the 20th century, bongo drums are prevalent in lots of different music genres. One of the best things about bongos is you really only need a basic sense of rhythm to start playing.

The next thing you need to learn to become a true bongocero (Spanish for bongo player) is the different kinds of strokes that produce a variety of tones from the bongo. Dummies.com details four different kinds of basic strokes found in every type of bongo rhythm: the open tone, the slap, the heel-tip movement, and the basic muted tone.

Another thing for beginners to check out is the free instructional videos available online. Dance Papi, an instruction website dedicated to teaching salsa, Cuban salsa, conga drums and hand percussion, offers an informative video detailing all of the things novice bongoceros need to know.

2. Strum a Ukulele

If you are one of those people who have always looked up to guitar masters like Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana, or Eric Clapton, the ukulele is perfect for you. The Ukulele began life in Hawaii as an adaptation of the Portuguese Machete, a small guitar-like instrument, in the 19th century. The instrument has played an important role in molding modern Hawaiian music since its introduction.

A ukulele consists of only four strings instead of the six on a guitar making it relatively easier to learn. It is also a good first step towards learning how to play guitar because almost all of the techniques can be transferred from one to the other.

A good ukulele can be hard to come by. You can find a cheap one in most music shops, but you will most likely have issues with these and they will not sound as good. MusicalPros offers a comprehensive guide to finding the best beginner Ukuleles while UkuWorld has everything you could need to learn how to play one.

3. Tickle a Keyboard

A keyboard is a rewarding beginner instrument for people in wheelchairs. They offer portability and many of them have the ability to be different types of instruments with just the push of a button.

Keyboards are also extremely easy to start playing and only require a basic understanding of how to read music. Instructables states the first step to learning piano or keyboard is to become familiar with the basic notes and how to read them off a sheet of music.

After picking up basic skills, you will be on your way to becoming a master pianist just like Johann Sebastian Bach. However, in case you are like most people and need a little help, pianist Andrew Furmanczyk offers a free series of instructional videos to start you off.

4. Harping a Harmonica

If you want an instrument that is as easy to store as it is to play, try the harmonica. This instrument can fit any size pocket or bag making it convenient for people struggling with mobility. You can’t beat the sound it makes either.

Unlike other wind instruments, the basic play of the harmonica does not require any of those special lip movements that can be difficult to master. Instead, playing the harmonica is as simple as breathing in and out.

Before starting to play, you need to ensure you have the best harmonica for beginners as there are many different types and brands to choose from. HarmonicaLessons.com has a very comprehensive list of the different types of harmonicas and which ones are best for beginners. For free instruction, check out LearnTheHarmonica.com’s YouTube playlist for beginner harmonica lessons.

5. Blast a Trumpet

The trumpet is last on this list because it is the hardest to learn out of the five listed. However, it made it on this list because once the more difficult techniques have been learned, it is easy to pick up the rest.

One of the more difficult techniques to learn is called buzzing. This is the combination of lip contortion and sound production that creates the trademark trumpet tone. WikiHow goes into detail about buzzing and much more making it a wonderful resource for those wanting to pick up a trumpet for the first time.

Overall, learning to play an instrument can be as rewarding as it is challenging. At some points you’ll be thinking that you can’t get anything right and other times you’ll feel like everything is clicking. Having the resiliency to push through those challenges leads to an amazing feeling of accomplishment when it all comes together. If you are struggling with the motivation to pick up a new instrument or hobby, check out our blog post containing the 30 most inspiring quotes for and from people with disabilities, they will be sure to push you in the right direction.