How do I start?
What instrument shall I play?
The answer depends on where you are coming from. See below for suggestions, and look [link to Instruments] for further information.
I can play a recorder
The recorder is a great instrument for early music. If you play only a descant recorder, then you should start playing some of the lower instruments.
If you like the early dance music and the more raucous sounding early music, then you might like to try some of the other early wind instruments, for example the reeded instruments like crumhorns and shawms. The crumhorn and the closely related cornamuse are easy to move on to (they have the same fingering as recorders) and are not as loud as shawms.
I can play a woodwind instrument
You are in a good position to move to one of the early wind instruments like the reeded instruments like crumhorns and shawms. The crumhorn and the closely related cornamuse are easy to move on to (they have the same fingering as recorders) and are not as loud as shawms. If you're a flute player, then you can play a renaissance flute.
I can play a violin or similar stringed instrument
I can play a guitar
Have a look at lutes, theorbos, gitterns and citterns
I can play a piano
I can read music, but I can't play any instrument
Can you sing? If so, there is a great deal of early music for voices. If singing is not for you, then the first step is to learn an instrument! It's probably easier to start on a modern instrument, and then move to an early instrument. If you have a strong desire to play a particular instrument, then learn that one (it's always easier to learn something you enjoy), but if you don't have a strong preference, then the recorder is a good choice, with logical fingering and a lot of opportunities to play with other people.
See [link to Where to find music] for places where you can buy music and instruction books
See [link to where to find people to play with] for how to find groups of people that you can play early music with
Can we have a link page for more informal early music groups? Sure, but who are they? My monday crumhorn group. The friday evening early music group at my house. Ilkley U3A group - often though not always early, and Terry's more serious recorder orchestra in the morning. Must be similar groups for players of other instruments.