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Learning an Instrument

Learning an Instrument

Date: May 04 2009

Themes: Hobbies, How To

Grammar: Be Able To


1. Learn Vocabulary - Learn some new vocabulary before you start the lesson.

2. Read and Prepare - Read the introduction and prepare to hear the audio.

OK, so Mozart started composing and performing symphonies at the age of five. But we can’t all be so gifted. For most people, learning how to play an instrument is a challenging process that can take a number of years. It’s especially difficult to teach yourself how to play, without the help of lessons.

Devan is trying to learn how to play guitar, but it isn’t going very well. Listen to her ask for advice from Beren, who plays drums in a band.


1. Listen and Read - Listen to the audio and read the dialog at the same time.

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2. Study - Read the dialog again to see how the vocab words are used.





Devan:  So, Beren, you play drums. How long did it take you to learn how to play them?

Beren:  Oh man, I am definitely not a natural. I know some people can just pick up an instrument and just play. But it took me a while to actually be able to play a full beat and feel comfortable. I’d say a couple years actually.

Devan:  Well, that’s reassuring because I’ve been trying to learn guitar for a couple years, and it’s just not coming naturally. My dad tried to teach me, but he’s one of those people that just plays by ear. And trying to learn from him is really frustrating ‘cause he doesn’t really know the names of chords or anything since he’s completely self-taught, by ear. But it’s really hard for me because I’m definitely not a natural. And I’m a little tone-deaf, too.

Beren:  Definitely, when I started, I was trying to teach myself and that actually worked out pretty well. But even like as recently as six months ago I’ve taken a drum lesson. And it really helps, ‘cause I can read a little music so, you know, I can get a book with drum notation and have a teacher show me what it’s supposed to sound like, and then I can take that home and work on it, and have something to work off of.

Devan:  Well, maybe there’s still hope for me yet. I guess I shouldn’t give up so quickly.


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Devan asks Beren how long it took her to learn to play the drums. Even though Beren is good enough to play drums in a band now, it was hard for her to learn. It took her two years to teach herself how to play, and even now, she sometimes gets help from a teacher or a music book.

Devan’s father is a natural on the guitar. He learned to play without a teacher and without even knowing the different chords. He can just listen to a song a few times, pick up the guitar, and start playing it. Unfortunately for Devan, that doesn’t make him a very good teacher.

Have you ever learned to play an instrument? Are you a natural, or was it hard for you to learn? If you could play any instrument, what would it be?



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I need someone to help me in something for my univarsity plezz

04:23 PM Mar 18 2016 |




04:22 PM Mar 18 2016 |




When I was 20 years old I learned to play a guitar. It wasn’t easy, but finally I learned few songs and played better. It is not natural for me. I have lessons with a teacher. After a few months I was able to play some songs. It was fun!

12:55 PM Aug 21 2014 |




I started to play bass guitar 18 years ago with some friends in a rock-pop band. At the same time I learnt to play guitar self-taught. I’ve never taken lessons, but since them I’ve always played bass guitar. Actually I’m bassist in a cool pop band. Do you want to ear us??

09:10 PM Aug 15 2011 |


Russian Federation

I can play the guitar and the piano very well. I like music but it hasn’t come to me natural. I have learned to play guitar since I was 14. I was self-taught. My friend gave me chords and notation. Now I can play by ear. I have played the piano for 15 years. I learned to play the piano when I was in college. I prefer playing the piano to the guitar. Now I learn to play the flute.

If I could play the violin I would be satisfy

07:19 AM Jul 12 2011 |



I Learn guitar acoustic when i was in college, some people said it was late. But i don't care, as long as i can make my left hand more active to move i will do it. 

Before took guitar private lesson, i joined Indonesian traditional dancing. 

I'm a designer, so it so important to make my right brain more value to improve my ideas become more innovated, and it will happen if i make my left hand more active.

FYI, already do some activities with my left hand, i wrote, i draw and even i eat with them. But then my parents complained for the last one, so i prefer learning an instrument.  

01:56 AM Jun 25 2009 |



Russian Federation

I started to learn to play piano when I was just 5 years old. When my parents brought me to the musical school and teacher found out my age, they even didn't want to take me because all children started to learn it  from the age of 7 and they didn't know at what class I had to go. Well, I am grateful to my parents now because I can say that I feel the music (I also sang in children's chorus) and it is also proved fact that people who are natural in music   study foreign languages better than tone-deaf people, it helps to feel prounancation. 

I wish to try to play drums. I think it is cool and modern.

10:32 AM May 10 2009 |


Viet Nam

I have been learning guitar for 2 months..at the begging how hard I was.I couldn't moved+remember the notation exactly.hurt all my fingers.Sometimes I gave up..but when I hear guitar songs.They thrilled my soul and soar my spirit again..I returned to learn .I work off of learning with my brother.He wasn't a tone-deaf.But he played longer than me

But I think I'm not a gifted..bad as before…


10:04 AM May 10 2009 |


Moldova, Republic Of

I am tone-deaf. I tried to learn the guitar. I learned to play two melodies mechanically, the performing wasn't very good. So, I gave up.

07:34 AM May 10 2009 |




i'm learning to play the drums

n it's so awesome!

i love it <3

im taking lessons from one year ago… 

mmm and for me it's not to easy.. but i'll be an amazing drummer…

eaaa! C: 

06:14 AM May 10 2009 |



I am a dancer and i love dancing. But I would like be able to play piano or violin. I love music, every gender ;)

09:33 PM May 09 2009 |



Hong Kong

oh,i had learn piano for almost 8years…

it was hard at the beginning.my fingers cant moved in control.and i was forced my mum to play piano every day…that was horroble.

but now,i'm grade 5now.i can play beautiful songs.

i love piano now.

learning an instrument must pass thought a tribulation.

and of course a long way of practicing.

than you'll find, how interesting and lovely music is!

03:57 PM May 09 2009 |




I'm surprised that Devan's father is so gifed while she is almost a tone-deaf! Chinese believe daughter is more like father, or it's just a story?


There's about 10% people in western countries are tone-deaf, while almost no Chinese has the problem. Learning Chinese helps getting better sense of music, I'm not kidding, check it here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/5245655/Learning-Chinese-languages-makes-you-musical-claim-scientists.html


I learned harmonica when I was 7 years old, 3 years later I dropped it. Then I tried some Chinese instruments, Urheen, lute, finally I realized I have no gift in playing instruments, so I give up. But these days, I'm thinking of learning koto, I love the sound so much.

07:34 AM May 09 2009 |



I am able to play the guitar instrument, I always feel happy and having a peace of mind every time I play guitar. And I hope I will be able to play drums.

07:46 PM May 08 2009 |





01:20 PM May 08 2009 |




do what you want to do !

08:53 AM May 08 2009 |




do what you want to do !

08:53 AM May 08 2009 |



yes i like  every instrument .my major is classic piano in fact. but i really like rock band so i learn guitar or bass self-taught by some books. it is not easy for my fingers .at frist  they are all hurt. and it make me cry to play .but someday when you are not feel hurt. then you can play anytime .unless i think so .and when i write songs to work off of instrument.piano or guitar.

well i have too say how mach i love them. without them i do not know how to write songs.

01:05 PM May 07 2009 |




i´m learning now

in my free time… great!!!! i love it

05:13 AM May 07 2009 |


Viet Nam

I also like playing guitar so much, but I have not had yet a guitar to practis. And I intend to buy it within this year. 

Owning and playing well guitar is one of my dreams. :)

If I have a guitar, I will join a music class to learn how to play guitar. 

04:12 AM May 07 2009 |

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