What the musical instrument you played as a child says about you now

To all you piano players out there – have you learned how to say no to your parents yet?


It happened to all of us: Being forced into playing a musical instrument by our parents or our school. Rest in peace to the days where you’d get an hour out of lessons to go and sit in the assembly hall and produce some awful noise out of an ocarina. My ears are still reeling from those tenor horn lessons I used to get forced into with my whole class. If that wasn’t real music, then what is?

Whether your music career stopped after you left year four and you’ve never had to touch a recorder again, or you prospered as a musician and made it as far as grade one on the piano – everyone has their own memories of the days when musical instruments were a fundamental part of our learning. Gone, but never forgotten.

So let’s get stuck in and find out what your musical history says about you:


Starting off easy, if your musical talent goes as far as playing the recorder in primary school and then never laying eyes on it again, clearly you weren’t dedicated to the cause. It’s safe to say your talents lie in other areas, and these days your musical prowess extends as far as listening to one Spotify playlist on repeat. Nothing to be ashamed of – but not exactly unique. Who knows? Maybe one day you’ll crack open that recorder bag, remind yourself how to play hot cross buns, and never look back. But then again… maybe not.

What uni you went to: Leeds

Tenor horn

Another generic primary school choice, although slightly more boujee than just a recorder or an ocarina. The tenor horn requires some element of skill, which is probably why it sounded absolutely terrible every time you laid hands on it. If you played the tenor horn as a child then suffice it to say you probably went to some upper class, private school, and still live off daddy’s money now… despite the fact you’re 24 and graduated from uni three years ago.

What uni you went to: Durham


Okay, getting a bit more serious now. If you played the piano past primary school, it implies some sort of interest in the musical field, from your mum if not you. You were probably forced into this and either really enjoyed it and took it further, or made a deal that if you passed your grade one exam you could give up.

Those of you who carried it on will either have made piano your entire life, or you stopped after GCSEs and only use it every now and then to show off to your friends – if this is you then you should probably try and find a new hobby, because this one’s getting a bit old. However, if you were one of those who wrangled their parents into letting you drop it after grade one, you’re probably smashing it in the big world, putting those God-given negotiating skills to use. Maybe we’ll see you on the next season of The Apprentice.

What uni you went to: Bristol


Trumpet players were the dark horses of secondary school, and that reigns true today. The people that weren’t exclusively good at music, but could play football, run, and got straight A’s. If you were a trumpet player in your younger years, chances are you still are. You enjoy the power it gave you – always having the melody in the band arrangement and being heard over everyone else. You’re not quite ready to give that up just yet. You relish in attention and you’re always invited to too many parties to keep up with.

What uni you went to: Inevitably Oxford or Cambridge


Let’s get straight to it: if you played the saxophone you were a bad bitch. And you still are. The Lisa Simpsons of the year who glided through secondary school, if anyone annoyed you, you’d just whack them round the head with your massive instrument case. The shiny gold of the instrument never ceased to impress, and it give you a sense of validation you never could forget. You didn’t need to be good at anything else because you were just automatically better than everyone around you. Everybody wanted to be you, but nobody could – and that stands true today. You’re the CEO of your company and have at least four side hussles. Get it queen.

What uni you went to: Newcastle


Clarinet players were overlooked. Often a little bit nerdy, you knew your strengths and you stuck to them. You didn’t care about sports or being the most popular person in the year. All you needed to keep you happy was your daily ham sandwich for lunch and the case full of wood and metal that brought you so much joy.

Nowadays, you’re out there, living for yourself – not needing anyone or anything else. You make yourself happy and, let’s be real, you probably still cuddle your clarinet to sleep at night. The emotional bond you share with that thing can never be broken.

What uni you went to: Liverpool


If you played a stringed instrument, you fit into one of two categories: you’re either insanely talented and should audition for BBC Young Musician of the Year, or you’re a total weirdo and need a reality check. Stringed instruments are like marmite, some people love them – most people do not.

They make you want to slam your head with a car door every time a 10-year-old picks up a violin as you know you’re in for one of the top 10 worst experiences of your life. Nowadays, you’re probably working for a non-profit and preaching love in the world whilst secretly littering your crisp packet because you’re too lazy to find a bin. We see you.

What uni you went to: York

Other reed instruments

There’s no need to beat around the bush, if you played some other instrument in the woodwind category, it was definitely because you’d been forced into it by your music teacher who needed someone to fill in the gap in the band. You were timid, easy to walk over, and you still are. Grow a pair and start being the boss of your own life.

Either that, or you were the edgy kid who played the oboe just to be different. If that was you then these days you undoubtedly place too much value on appearances and find all your validation in materials.

What uni you went to: Exeter or Manchester

Related stories recommended by this writer