The Advantages of Playing More Than One Musical Instrument

Posted in: Genres by Bob Craypoe on September 18th, 2013 | 0 Comments

There are a number of advantages for a musician who plays more than one musical instrument. These are just a few of them.

I myself play a number of different musical instruments. I feel that I have benefited from that fact in a number of ways. Hopefully I can adequately present the case to you and get you to feel the same.  Do you have to play each instrument at a virtuoso’s level of competency? No, I don’t feel that is necessary. Yet, even though you may not be a virtuoso on a second or third instrument, it may still prove to be a valuable asset to your musicianship. Here’s why I think so:

Learning a second instrument may give you a greater level of appreciation for those who play that instrument well.
As an example, I play the balalaika. It is an instrument that has only 3 strings and two of which are tuned to the same pitch. Now the common perception is that an instrument with only 3 strings must really limit a musician’s creativity. That’s not necessarily true. To prove my point, you should go to Youtube and type balalaika into the search feature. You will see some amazing musicians and you will be surprised at what can be done on an instrument with only 3 strings.

Learning a second instrument will help you to be able to compose arrangements for that instrument.
As a guitar player, it is not much of a stretch to be able to play the bass guitar. However, if you learn how to read music that is notated on the staff, utilizing the bass clef, it will also be easier to write out arrangements for the bass guitar. I do a lot of work within Cakewalk’s Music Creator and I write out arrangements for other instruments. Among those instruments is the bass guitar. I also know some basic drum techniques and it makes it easier to write arrangements in music notation for the drums. Knowing that allows me to come up with more realistic sounding drum beats.

Playing more than one instrument in a band allows for a greater variety of sounds.
Imagine being in a band situation where you and the other members of the band don’t always play the same instruments on every song. Maybe on one song you play the guitar and in the next song you play a mandolin. Obviously this will have an effect on the sound. Wouldn’t it be nice if not all of your songs sound the same?

Playing more than one instrument will allow you to expand your repertoire.
Playing more than one instrument will allow you to have a wider selection of songs to choose from, when selecting the material you want to play. Your standard four piece rock bands have two guitarists, one bass guitarist and a drummer. Usually, one or more of the members will also sing. That allows you to cover a lot of material but wouldn’t it be nice if one of the guitarists also played piano? It certainly would increase your possibilities.

Playing different instruments allows you to approach songwriting in a different way.
I’ve noticed that when I compose a song on a keyboard that my approach is a little different than when I set out to compose a song on a guitar. This allows for a variety in the songs I compose. Sometimes I will compose a song on a keyboard but later play it using the guitar as the main instrument. It allows for a number of different possibilities.

So to sum it up:
There are a lot of very good reasons a person might use to justify learning another instrument. There are even more than those expanded upon above. We could probably go on forever. My point is that you may want to give it some consideration. At a minimum, it will expand your level of musicianship. That’s something I think every musician should consider.

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