How long will it take me to learn to play Oud?

Learning an instrument, or music in general, is a long process, or in fact, it is a non-finishing journey.  The more you learn an instrument, the more you find out how much more you want to learn.

You may not be able to master an instrument in a matter of a few months, but if you show commitment and discipline for practice, it may take you between several weeks to a few months before you can start playing certain songs correctly.

Some people have the ability to learn certain skills faster than others. For instance, some people pick up the techniques of the right hand faster than others, while others may excel in learning notation and rhythmical forms faster.  

I am an adult who has never played music before. Can I do this?

I have students of all ages: From young 8 year-old children to adults in their 20s to 70s, but the majority of my students are in their 30s, 40s and 50s.

The problem for an adult to learn an instrument is mostly related to the level of concentration, their time management and definitely not to their ability to understand or to learn new skills.  If you’re able to manage your time, you show commitment and you dedicate time to practice Oud on a regular basis, then no matter how old you are, you can still become a good Oud player.

I want to learn the Oud but I don’t have time to practice

Everyone can find time for practice, no matter how busy they can be in life.  If you have time to drink your coffee, watch tv, or go on social media, then yes you do have time to practice your instrument.

Practicing is a fundamental story and it’s also about the journey. Find pleasure in practicing. Develop a passion for it. Think of it when you wake up in the morning and when you come back from work or before you go to bed at night. Keep track of your progress and make sure your practice sessions are structured and not random. Break down your exercises and work on the small parts where you have difficulties.

Think of your instrument as an extension of yourself. Treat it well and take care of it but also make sure it’s always accessible to you.

I don’t want to learn music notation. I want to learn Oud by ear.

Music notation is essential to the learning process of an instrument. It will allow you to develop skills and techniques much faster. It will also allow you to have access to thousands of sheet music of classical Arabic and Turkish music pieces and songs that otherwise, you won’t be able to have access to or to perform. You need to offer yourself every advantage and being musically literate is one of them. Unless you were born with “supernatural” music skills and with a perfect ear, and that you grew up listening to good music from early childhood, learning by ear alone will limit you and you will most probably find yourself stuck with the same techniques and skills for the rest of the journey.

Reading music notation can be intimidating for some people at the beginning but it’s something that can be learned gradually and in an additive way.

I only teach the Oud instrument along with the music notation. It allows me to speed the process of teaching Oud by giving the student hundreds of technical exercises that otherwise (by ear), I won’t be able to. However, some of the sessions may focus on ear training and improvising on the instrument by ear, as developing a good ear is an extremely important aspect of learning music.

If you insist on learning certain music pieces by ear, or if you’d like to take lessons only to learn improvisation on the Oud, I’ll be willing to give you those lessons with pleasure. However, please keep in mind that packages cannot be offered for this, and that you will need to purchase individual custom lessons at $50 each.

How often do I need to practice Oud in order to show progress?

Consistency is key for progress.  You need to practice regularly and in a very disciplined manner.  Start with warm-up and technical exercises before jumping to the fun part of playing a piece or a song. Ideally, if time permits, practice a minimum of 1 to 2 hours per day.  A minimum practice of 15min every day is important if you don’t have time for longer practice sessions. Practice every day and don’t wait too long between practice days. Better practice 15min every day, then dedicate one or two days per week for longer practice sessions. Also, always use a metronome, especially if you’re a beginner. I cannot stress enough how important a metronome is. Just use it.