So, you’ve gone to university.
It’s an exciting, mildly worrying time: there are plenty of opportunities, lots of activities and A LOT of people (none of whom you know, apart from one or two people who you avoided at school but who are looking quite socially appealing suddenly).
What do you do to break the ice with these people? How do you get yourself out there in a meaningful way?
I remember being a student and arriving at my halls in 2006 and wondering these things. My solution to this was to play the loudest, most inaccessible music I could to act as a sort of musical beacon to attract like-minded people to my room (it didn’t work).
Likewise, if you’re a musician there may be certain instruments that attract people to you like a pied piper of Fresher’s Week. It’s difficult to decide what these are – is a ukulele a bit overdone? Is an acoustic guitar appropriate in the corridor of your halls? Is the jury out on saxophones? So the point of this article is to go through some options with you – because ultimately, playing an instrument is a brilliant way of meeting people, socialising, having a talking point and also (no one tells you this) finding something to actually do with all of the spare time you suddenly have on your hands. What better way to spend it than having an amazing time with new friends and becoming enviously brilliant at sweeping guitar solos..?
Also IMPORTANTLY we have a sweet deal with Student Beans at the moment so any student can get 10% off instruments, accessories and sheet music. Check it out here.
1) Pure Tone Guitar: £34.99
Play it when: in your halls corridor is *sort of* okay with this kind of thing as long as you’re not playing Jack Johnson and wearing a fedora. More like a going to the beach/nearest woodland camping type of thing. Outdoors, basically. Play it outdoors wearing no shoes.
Don’t play it when: you’re at any kind of party. Don’t be that guy.
2) Korg Volca Beats Analogue Drum Machine: £129.00
Play it when: you feel like it. This is a cool piece of kit, to be honest. You can make some pretty interesting beats with it and it’s got a ton of great features with which you can twiddle away at the individual elements of your beat… this is the kind of thing that, if you got it out at a house party and plugged into the PA (and were actually pretty good at it) you could throw down pretty hard.
Don’t play it when: very inebriated, could be disastrous.
3) Korg: NanoKey 2 USB Controller – Black: £45.00
Play it when: You’re sat alone on one of the many days or nights you simply can’t afford to do anything other than get pretty decent at production. See if you can make a minimal techno track on garage band – guaranteed it’ll take you longer than you think (and you might end up with a 30 second dubstep track instead).
Don’t play it when: You’re in a drum circle.
4) Puretone Tuner £10.99
Play it when: your guitar is so insanely out of tune people are crying genuine tears of anguish at your performance.
Don’t play it when: you drunkenly think this is a Playstation Vita.
5) Casio SA-46 Mini Keyboard £39.99
Play it when: you’ve watched a few too many episodes of Adventure Time and you feeling inspired to write a couple of pretty little ditties. This is a pretty good price point for something as good as this, it’s got a number of settings and (if we want to get technical) 8-note polyphony, 100 timbres, 50 rhythms and a Liquid Crystal display: the SA-46 is a serious playmate. Whoa. Get out.
Don’t play it when: you’re trying to serenade anyone – unless you’re going for a sort of Zach Braff cutesy thing but I wouldn’t recommend that either. Stick to ‘The Notebook’, pal.
6) Headliner Series Rubber Wood Cajon £91.50
Play it when: you’ve run out of cardboard boxes to hit JOKE that’s a joke, this is much more than a box – observe:
“A cajón (Spanish pronunciation: ka-hon) is nominally a six sided, box-shaped percussion instrument originally from Peru, played by slapping the front or rear faces (generally thin plywood) with the hands, fingers, or sometimes various implements such as brushes, mallets, or sticks.
Cajones are primarily played in Afro-Peruvian music, as well as contemporary styles of flamenco and jazz among other genres. The term cajón is also applied to other unrelated box drums used in Latin American music such as thecajón de rumba used in Cuban rumba, and the cajón de tapeo used in Mexican folk music.”
Don’t play it when: your housemates are trying to move house and you’re just sat there hitting a box. Students are people too. Lend a hand.
7) Pick Cutter: Plectrum Punching Tool – £19.99
Play it when: YOU CAN’T PLAY IT. And hey, it looks like a stapler. But shut up, because it makes plectrums out of anything and you ALWAYS will lose them. Trust me. Don’t trust anyone else, they’re probably the ones stealing your plectrums.
Don’t play it when: You’re a trumpeter. You’ve no use for such things.
8) Twenty-Four Contemporary Pieces For Solo Piano £14.95
Play it when: it’s raining outside and you’re feeling like .. deep and mysterious. And a little sad, perhaps. When the leaves begin to fall down and your Fresher’s Flu REALLY kicks in. Bye bye immune system, hello enriching piano music (possibly has healing properties too).
Don’t play it when: you only have a 20 key Casio to hand. It just won’t sound the same.
9) Puretone Ukulele £22.95 + Absolute Beginners: Ukulele (Book And CD) £8.95
Play it when: ever you want. It’s a tiny guitar for goodness sakes. Everyone loves that. Just strum along whilst walking up the road chewing on a piece of straw with your knapsack under one arm. Whistle whilst you do it. Live your life. Be care free.
Don’t play it when: you’ve got poorly looked after cuticles. Can be very painful.
10) Hohner: Silver Star Key C Harmonica £12.99
Play it when: you’re impersonating a fugitive in the 1950’s hiding in a cornfield with nothing but his mouth organ for company, and the swaying dumb heads of corn hissing gently in the wind. Ah.
Don’t play it when: your housemates are revising. Just don’t.
11) The Buskers Songbook £14.95
Play it when: you’re about 65p short of a pint and you happen to be carrying your lovely guitar around with you. Go for ‘Get Lucky’ or something. People love ‘Get Lucky’.
Don’t play it when: it’s 4AM on a Tuesday morning. It’s not your demographic.