5 Well-Crafted, Whimsical, and Eccentric, Yet Surprisingly Affordable Instruments That'll Add Music To Your Life 

By Kathy L. Nguyen  
Published on 3.4.23 | Updated 3.14.23
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My classical guitar instructor has very beautifully stated that when we are playing music what we are doing is decorating time. Isn't that such a lovely way to phrase it?

Lately, I've been wanting to expand my music practice while trying something novel and unusual. Sometimes a girl needs a little fun to make it through the last stretch of winter. Are you down to go on an adventure with me? Here's a list of affordable, quirky instruments I'm dying for us to play together.

The 16-string lyre is an instrument that has been played for thousands of years. It's been used in a variety of musical traditions throughout history, including in ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt. It has also been used in folk music from many cultures, as well as in contemporary world music.

2. Yamaha's 37-Key Melodica

The 37-key melodica is a larger version of the standard 32-key melodica, with an extended range that allows for more complex melodies and harmonies. To play it, the musician holds the instrument horizontally and blows air through a mouthpiece, while using their fingers to press the keys. 

It's a unique and versatile instrument that can produce a wide range of sounds and textures. Its portability and ease of use are what's fascinating about this instrument. 

3. Stylophone's Original Pocket Electronic Organ 

The Stylophone's Original Pocket Electronic Organ is a small, portable electronic keyboard instrument that was first introduced in the late 1960s. It is a monophonic instrument, meaning it can only play one note at a time.

The Stylophone consists of a metal keyboard with 20 metal contacts that produce a sound when touched by a stylus. The stylus is connected to the instrument by a wire, and the musician plays the instrument by touching the stylus to the contacts and moving it up and down the keyboard.

The Stylophone has a distinctive sound that is often described as "quirky" or "retro." It was popularized in the 1970s by musicians such as David Bowie and Kraftwerk, and it has been used in a variety of musical genres, including pop, rock, and electronic music.

4. MUSICUBE'S 23-Key Soprano Glockenspiel 

The glockenspiel is believed to have originated in Germany in the 17th century, and it has been used in orchestral music, marching bands, and other musical contexts ever since. It is often used to add a sparkling, high-pitched accent to musical arrangements, and its bright, bell-like sound is easily recognizable.

Overall, the glockenspiel is a distinctive and versatile percussion instrument that adds a bright, shimmering sound to many types of music. Its unique sound and relatively simple playing technique make it a popular choice for musicians of all levels and genres.

5. Yamaha's YRS-312B Soprano Recorder

This isn't the cheap plastic recorder you used to learn "Hot Cross Buns" in elementary school. The Yamaha YRS-312B Soprano Recorder is a high-quality musical instrument designed with serious students and professionals in mind. Interestingly enough, the recorder has a long and rich history as a serious musical instrument, dating back to the medieval and Renaissance periods. It was a popular instrument in early music ensembles, such as baroque and Renaissance orchestras, where it is often used to play a variety of parts, including solo lines and accompaniment.

The YRS-312B features a baroque fingering system, which is the most common type of fingering used for recorders. It has a double hole for the low C/C# note, which allows for improved tuning and intonation. The instrument is made from high-quality ABS resin, which is durable, lightweight, and easy to maintain.

While the recorder is often considered a beginner's instrument, it is also a serious and versatile musical instrument that is played by many professional musicians around the world.

As a musician, whether you are classically trained or not, adding another instrument to your arsenal can be a great boon to your musicality whether you decide to play it "seriously" or not. Learning a new instrument will make you develop new skills, such as different fingerings, embouchure, or other techniques. This does a lot to improve musicianship and technical proficiency. It'll give you the ability to adapt to different musical situations. Many musicians work in multiple musical contexts, such as playing in orchestras, teaching, and performing chamber music. 

If you aren't a musician or have little experience with playing instruments, here is your opportunity to try something new. There are many benefits to learning music as an adult. It can provide an outlet for emotional expression and a break from the pressures of everyday life.  Learning an instrument has been shown to have cognitive benefits, including improved memory, attention, and problem-solving skills. It can also help to strengthen neural connections in the brain and it can also be a means of personal growth and development requiring discipline, perseverance, and commitment. 

I started playing classical guitar at the age of 28. Although I knew basic music theory fundamentals, I was not an expert and had no experience with the instrument although I had "played" electric guitar when I was younger. It's been 7 years since I started my journey and today I am able to sight read relatively well as well as play music I never thought I'd be able to learn. It's a journey that'll humble you and bring expansion. 

I've accepted that I'll probably never be virtuosic but for me, that's not the point.