One of the easiest ways to pick an instrument is to go the shop and have a go at trying different ones and see which one you like the most. However, there are a lot of other factors to consider when choosing a musical instrument such as your music preferences, your budget for an instrument, space it might take up, your personal characteristics, the mobility of the instrument and potential career options. Below is the breakdown of these factors according to different kinds of instruments.
Most string instruments like Violin, Viola, Cello and Double Bass require a lot of practice and patience in the beginning as progress can be slow. These instruments also require good dexterity and co-ordination; if the player is a child, they have to be mature enough to understand the slow progress during early stages of learning. It is possible to find these instruments fairly cheap, but as you or your child progress you might want to shell out on a more professionally-designed instrument, which can be expensive. Violin - an old favourite used to play classical and popular music styles; Viola - classical, warmer sound than violin but more difficult to learn; Cello - bulky and not particularly mobile, used in classical, jazz and some popular music; Double Bass - even larger than Cello, musically versatile and used in many genres from classical to rock, and there are smaller sizes for children to learn. All of these appeal to sociable people who are eager to contribute to a group endeavour.
There are also less classical options for string instruments like the Guitar, Banjo and Ukulele, the latter being extremely popular recently. There are also different kinds of guitars which are suited for different purposes and styles, as for example classical guitar is more suitable for solo music and is harder to learn than others. If you want to play in a band there is a plenty of alternative acoustic guitars that will fit well in many music styles as well as a range of electric guitars which are great fun and relatively easy to pick up. Depending on the guitar you choose it is suitable for independent and introvert people as well as communicable and open characters.
Woodwind instruments are separated into smaller ones, like Flute and Clarinet, which are compact enough to easily carry; and their larger kin, like Bassoon and Oboe, which require care when carrying and handling as they are gentle, fragile instruments. While learning to play Flute and Clarinet there is fast initial progress and the potential to switch to Saxophone later which is an instrument providing a lot of freedom and scope for improvisation. They both can be purchased for a moderate, budget-friendly price and are not too expensive to upscale either. Bassoons and Oboes need to be handled with care and cost quite a lot; however both are in high demand as far as profession goes. Apart from classical music these instruments can be used while playing different styles such as jazz, folk and pop.
Brass instruments are both accessible and reasonably priced; they create a great sound and are not too difficult to learn in the beginning. These instruments are quite large but there are smaller options available for children. The French horn is considered to be one of the most difficult brass instruments to learn because many notes are created by just changing the shape of the lips. It is suitable for hard working and persistent people who like to challenge themselves which might be very rewarding since there is always a need for Horn players in orchestras and bands. Trumpets are easy to carry around and are suitable for independent and sociable people. There are a lot of trumpeters in the music scene and it is a bit tricky to switch from a trumpet to another brass instrument because of the mouth shape (embouchure) being very different to the others. Trombones are very well priced but cumbersome to carry around. However, children engage with them very easily from the start and they make a wonderful sound. They will suit artistic and quietly sociable people who feel the need to express themselves. Tuba is a very large instrument and fairly expensive, but because there are not many tube players it provides the perks of finding an opportunity with an orchestra easily. It is perfect for responsive people who happy to be part of a group.
When choosing a woodwind or a brass instrument it is important to consider your health condition: strong lungs are a must, so those with breathing problems would do well to choose an instrument from a different group.
The main keyboard instrument - the ubiquitous Piano - provides a great theoretical base for learning any other instrument and therefore is an ideal instrument to start with. The instrument itself is large and can't be easily transported but makes a great piece of furniture even if you stop playing it. The prices for pianos are very varied; you can get a used one fairly cheap, and the sky's the limit at the upper end of the spectrum. Obviously the better the instrument, the more expensive it is, but the good thing about pianos is that if you're attending a music school or academy they commonly have different quality instruments for your use. The piano is suitable for independent and quiet people as it is mostly a solo instrument, however can also be played in a duet, ensemble or orchestra. It is very versatile in terms of genres starting with classical through to pop music. Piano players can progress onto playing a similar but more complex instruments such as the Organ, Harpsichord or Accordion, all of which are rarely seen days.
Most percussion instruments are bulky and make a lot of noise, so think about soundproofing your room when playing it. Playing them is a lot of fun and is fairly easy to learn. There are possible career paths is orchestras, and drummers are among the most sought-after members of bands. Playing Drums is suitable for energetic people: jazz and rock drumming will give you a true workout. It has been noted that percussion instruments and drums in particular are very satisfactory to some children with special education needs like autism, who find a sort of safe haven in playing them.
Instruments mentioned here are mostly classical and are not the only ones out there. There are a lot more instruments, some of which are difficult to put into groups. Today there is always another option of going for a non-traditional instrument or creating one on your own. No matter which instrument you decide to play, the most important aspect is that you love playing and listening to that instrument, as practicing isn't always full of fun. You have to be devoted to your passion to fully reap its rewards.