Learning a musical instrument is a journey that I found super rewarding and offers countless benefits. Among the myriad of instruments available, two of the most popular choices are the guitar and the piano.
Whether you’re a beginner setting out on your musical adventure or an experienced musician looking to pick up a new instrument, the question arises: Is the guitar or the piano harder to learn and master?
Hey, my name is Yona Marie and I want to share my insight as a fellow musician.
Which Is Easier to Start?
- Guitar: The guitar is often considered easier for beginners due to its portability, fewer keys (frets), and relatively straightforward chord patterns. It allows you to strum along with basic chords and play recognizable songs sooner.
- Piano: The piano offers a logical and visual layout of keys, making it easier to understand music theory from the beginning. However, it might initially seem more complex for beginners due to the need to coordinate both hands independently.
I personally think that the piano is easier to start because of the layout, especially if you want to just learn the basics. This is likely why people get kids piano lessons.
Which Is Harder to Master?
- Guitar: While it’s easier to get started, the guitar can be challenging to master. Achieving finger dexterity and precision in fretting chords and picking strings can take considerable time and practice. Guitarists often face difficulty in mastering techniques like fingerstyle, bending, and slides.
- Piano: Piano mastery is also a formidable task. The complexity arises from the need to coordinate both hands, play intricate pieces with multiple notes simultaneously, and interpret sheet music with two staffs (treble and bass clef).
I think that while both are hard to master, and I have yet to master either, the piano seems like it will be a much longer and harder journey to greatness. I have close professional pianist friends who practice super rigorously and still say they have a ways to go.
Differences Depending on Coordination
- Guitar: Guitarists must develop coordination between their fretting hand (left for right-handed players) and their strumming or picking hand (right for right-handed players). This coordination can be challenging, especially for beginners.
- Piano: Pianists face a different coordination challenge, where both hands must play independently but harmoniously. The right hand typically handles melody, while the left takes care of harmony and bass notes.
While both give me the blues with coordination, I find that guitar is a bit easier (as a leftie!)
Which Is Easier to Sight-Read?
- Guitar: Sight-reading can be more challenging on the guitar due to the need to memorize various chord shapes and doesn’t use the standard notation system like piano, voice, and other instruments.
- Piano: Sight-reading is often considered easier on the piano, thanks to the standardized sheet music notation and the linear arrangement of keys. Pianists can easily see and play the notes as written on the score.
As a singer first, I find that piano sight-reading is easy since it’s similar to vocal sight-reading, but it is still a pain to get right!
Which to Learn First If You Want to Learn Both?
- Guitar: If your ultimate goal is to learn both instruments, starting with the guitar might be a more gradual introduction to the world of music. Its simplicity in terms of basic chords and melodies can provide a solid foundation in music theory.
- Piano: Learning the piano first can offer a strong theoretical foundation and aid in understanding musical concepts. The skills developed on the piano, such as reading sheet music and understanding harmonies, can be beneficial when transitioning to the guitar.
While I mentioned before that many people start out with piano lessons as kids, it’s likely also because it’s easier to grasp all the new theoretic and musical foundation elements as a young mind.
In the eternal debate of whether the guitar or the piano is harder to learn and master, the answer ultimately depends on your personal preferences and goals. I personally think that the piano is easier to start with, while it is harder to master.
Both instruments have their unique challenges and advantages. The guitar is often easier to start due to its simplicity, while the piano may offer a stronger theoretical foundation. However, mastering either instrument requires dedication, practice, and a genuine passion for music.
Ultimately, the choice between the guitar and piano should be guided by your musical aspirations and the kind of music you want to create. Regardless of your choice, the journey of learning and mastering a musical instrument is a rewarding one that opens up a world of creative possibilities.
To get more tips from a musician like me, please check out my music tip blog!