|Novice||1 to 5|
|Apprentice||6 to 13|
|Journeyman||14 to 19|
Non-bards can learn ten steps of the twenty and they can learn five of the ten messages (Every odd rank is a new message) for any given instrument. They can gain the rank of a bardic apprentice on their instruments--the in-game equivalent of being a gifted amateur.
A bard with 4 Ranks in an instrument class can TUNE instruments of that class.
Being Adept and a rank 19 Journeyman is indiscernible except when an Adept plays a Master quality instrument. They are able to evoke the Adept tune out of it. Other less tangible differences are the bonuses to 1001, 1020, and 1030.
Each step or rank is when you get the "You feel a sense of accomplishment" message.
It takes as long to learn the last 5 steps as it did to learn the previous 15.
It doesn't hurt you to learn more than one instrument, but as a bard you may want to try to master one family first. This is because some songs receive a bonus if you are playing when you sing the song.
I don't think there is a limit of how much you can learn in one level but there is a possibility that you may learn a bit quicker as you age. I was fully mastered in the original 5 instrument families around the same time I reached 20th train (title). Most of that was done in the last few trains.
Total time played appears to be the basis of advancing from one step to another, which I will explain as best as I am able below.
First a few facts of my learning.
- I have mastered all six instrument family (Adept in all that is)
- It took me 7 or 8 months of practicing an average of 3 to 4 hours a day.
- Most of this was done with few or no other people in the area at the time.
- I played "complete" songs most of that time (until they ended on their own).
- I cycled through the different styles so that I ultimately played each one about the same amount of time.
Oh yes, don't forget to TUNE your instrument from time to time. This may affect your learning rate and will definitely affect which messages you get / songs you can play with an instrument. The quality of the instrument doesn't seem to matter. However, you will not be able to tune your instrument automatically.
Each complete song lasts between 5 and 5 1/2 minutes. Bear in mind I kept VERY good track of how many songs I completed and I did not count unfinished songs. Given this, you should expect to see advancement at approximately the following amounts of time played.
The difference between my quickest and slowest mastery was about 15hrs.
I seriously doubt anyone else has kept track of this learning as I have done, but it looks like there are definite steps involved. There is some variation but it does not seem at all random to me.
We can also control which message we play with an instrument now. Bards should be able to do this at any skill level. Non-bards can do so once they have advanced to their maximum skill level. You can use PLAY to get a quick description of the various options and syntax. For example, you can PLAY LUTE FAST 8. Trying to play a specific message when not skilled enough to play that particular message (or using an instrument that is out of tune) will just initiate playing using a random message.
I hope this helps. :)
Icewhite (with some edits)