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Hardest Band Instruments to Play

Many players willing to join a band wonder whether they can learn to play all instruments with ease or not. The truth is that while some instruments might be easier to play, there are also instruments that will be more difficult to play due to their specific characteristics and complex designs.

If you are a musician already, you know that learning to play an instrument can be quite difficult, whatever that instrument is, especially if you are willing to master it, there’s no such thing as easy instruments.

But for beginners or intermediate players, there are some types of instruments that are harder to initiate with.

However, the difficulty to learn a particular instrument shouldn’t be the main factor for you to decide which instrument you are going to play. This is because once you master it, it can be also easier to learn other types of instruments.

Learning how to play instruments is an important skill and it cuts across different genres. For example, if you want to get the best vocals, you must use a set of different instruments, but all of those should be used in the correct way.

There is a lot of thought about playing and learning different band instruments. This is because some instruments have a steep learning curve but once you understand them, you are on the correct track to play them pleasantly.

Among those who are more difficult to learn, what are the musical instruments normally pointed as the most difficult to learn and play in a play?

What is the Hardest Instrument to Play in a Band?

French Horn

A detailed view of a french horn
A detailed view of a french horn

This instrument that was originated in France, the best manufacturers of hunting horns back then, is not made from real horns but brass metal and some flared bells.

Though it is beautiful, it’s one of the hardest instruments to play. If considering only the typical school band, especially when present on elementary school bands, then it can be identified as the most difficult to learn and play.

Why is it so hard to play and learn?

This instrument plays in the highest partial compared to other instruments in its category. Therefore, it’s easier to miss a note if you are not precise or when you hit the wrong part. This makes the instrument hard to play and learn for many beginners.

Apart From Typical Bands, What Are Other Hard Music Instruments to Play?


Detailed view of a violin performance
Detailed view of a violin during a performance

Compared to other string instruments, learning how to play the violin is no mean feat task.

It requires maximum precision and concentration if you are to play it at a master level. This small instrument is high-pitched and is therefore challenging to get the perfect position of hold when using it.

With practice, the violin player will be able to create fully-fledged pieces of music upon playing the instrument well. More advanced violin players often take years to finally learn how to use their instruments well enough for them to consider to be good at it.

Why is the violin one of the hardest instruments to play?

It is hard to balance the sound while using the violin to give you the right pitch, volume, and tone while maintaining the uniqueness and beauty of the tone.

Additionally, it’s somehow hard to hold it in the correct position; which enables the left hand to move with ease in the fingerboard while remaining well balanced in your chin.


Musician playing organ
Musician playing organ

If you are the type who only loves getting the basic skills in playing the organ, then you won’t have a challenge. But if you want to master it, you will need incredible brainpower, patience, and practice. It’s one of those instruments that require you to multitask without leaving one part hanging.

The organ is a musical instrument of the pipe family. It’s a keyboard instrument that usually has a very large number of pipes and is played by means of an air pump. This instrument can mostly be found in churches and cathedrals around the world since it’s used in the performance of religious music.

Because it is often associated with religious music, many composers have written different kinds of pieces dedicated to the organ, including Bach and Handel.

Why is the organ one of the hardest instruments to play?

The organ is considered one of the most difficult instruments to play because it has so many keys to play with and can even reach up to three manuals and pedal keyboards in some cases.

You have to use your feet and fingers at the same time. Additionally, if using an organ with stops, you have to alter the position of stops to alter the sound.

Most Difficult Instruments to Play in a Typical Band, by Section:

Hardest Brass Section Instrument – Piccolo Trumpet

a yamaha ytr 6810s piccolo trumpet

Piccolo trumpet is hard to play this brass instrument because it has many inbuilt difficulties and is unique to most brass family instruments. It brings magic to a concert unlike other alternative instruments and one has to be a master to play it well.

Hardest Wind Section Instrument – Oboe

a Professional Oboe

Oboe is the hardest instrument to play because it’s challenging to keep it in tune. Also, it has a steep learning curve, and controlling it as a beginner is a daunting task

Hardest Percussion Section Instrument – Timpani

Timpani drum

While playing the timpani it’s hard to balance the striking of the drum heads and adjusting the tuning in the middle of a song. If doing it while marching, it gets even more difficult to master it as it is quite close in terms of weight to some of the heaviest instruments to play in a marching band.

How to Overcome Difficulties in Learning and Playing Hardest Band Instrument

You should know that learning a musical instrument requires dedication and practice. There is no shortcut around it. But other times, you might feel discouraged or even don’t like it.

When that happens, you should:
  • Believe in yourself
  • Look for motivation from friends and family
  • Set your goals and appreciate small accomplishments
  • Be passionate
  • Have long term goals and engagements

Final Remarks on Learning the Hardest Band Instruments

The hardest instruments to play are also some of the most magnificent you can play in the band.

They are also some of the less competitive to get a college scholarship for music instruments, as they aren’t so competitive.

And though others may find it hard to learn, you will be a master once you understand the basics of playing and learning them. For such kind of instruments, it’s common to hire a private teacher or at least get extra education from some experienced player, whenever that’s possible for you.

These are the hardest instruments to play and learn, but also some of the most appealing to perform and listen to. Even though they are hard to learn, you will eventually get around them and enjoy the process.

Hardest Band Instruments