If you are surfing this website, it probably means that you play guitar. The guitar is the second most popular instrument in the world after piano (according to this great and very visual article) but besides those 2 there are 1500-2000 more instruments in the world from 6 different families: Strings (guitar, violin), keyboard (piano), percussion (drums), woodwinds (saxophone, flute), brass (trumpet) and electronic. (mostly synthesizers that create electronic music)
Many famous musicians are multi-instrumentalists, like Paul McCartney who played all the instruments on some of his albums and here you can see a great live performance of McCartney playing on 4-5 instruments on one song. A one man band. More on other famous multi-instrumentalists in a minute.
Personally, my first instrument was the guitar and it still is my main instrument. Since then I have expanded (in this particular order) to piano, recorder, harmonica, african drums, trumpet, flute, bass guitar and a melodica. It is an ongoing journey and with the trumpet, flute, and bass I am still at a basic level but I am already reaping all the benefits.
Today I want to share with you some ideas that might make you wanna do that as well, and start this journey yourself into becoming a mult-instrumentalist. Why? Let’s start:
12 Reasons You Want To Be A Multi-Instrumentalist Yourself:
1 – It’s Super Fun!
On an average day I play my guitars for an hour or two, sit on the piano at least for a few songs, play around with the harmonicas, melodica and the flute and occasionally pull out the drums or the trumpet. So much to do. I am seriously NEVER bored and always having a blast.
2 – Your Creative Expression Options Will Be WORLDS Wider
This one’s true especially if you write your own songs. Think about recording a song where you’re playing rhythm guitar and piano, with a catchy trumpet riff in the beginning, a harmonica solo in the end, and lead guitar filling in between the lines. All you. Think about an acoustic song that you are working on and feeling like a flute can add a lot to it. Instead of having to look for someone who knows how to play the damn thing, just pull your flute out. Are you done? great, go back to the guitar, or whatever other instrument you feel like playing now. It’s like a superpower…
3 – Every Instrument Compounds More Musical Skills to ALL The Other Instruments as Well
This is truly like a domino that makes you a better all-around musician in a way a single instrument just can’t. I can say that every instrument I have started playing gave me a skills boost for all the other instruments as well.
A piano gives you a wider and clearer understanding of chords, music and music theory in particular. A bass guitar suddenly opens your ears to the bass lines and it’s importance to the song’s rhythm. Drums will improve your time keeping skills and your ear for different drumming styles. Trumpet teaches you to respect and be careful about every single note more than anything else because EVERYBODY notices when you play an off-key note on a trumpet. (it’s just so loud that you can’t miss it…) And this is just the tip of the ice here, I can go on and on about every single instrument.
4 – Learning to Play Instruments Today Is a BREEZE Compared to any Other Times in History
The internet had brought the information age raging in full throttle. For the first time after billions of years, human beings can reach any kind of information at the touch of a keyboard, including comprehensive info on how to play any kind of musical instrument that exists on this planet. I learned all the instruments by myself or with the best courses that are available online for ridiculous prices. Guitar, piano, harmonica, vocals. you can learn everything very easily providing you are committed to it.
5 – Music Theory Eases Transitions Between the Instruments
Once you have your scales and music theory down, it’s really not a big deal to move to new instruments. When you know how the thing works and the beautiful music is already in your head, all you need to do is learn the fingerings and technique. The technique is still a whole world for itself on each instrument, but nonetheless, it’s still far less work than someone who starts an instrument with zero knowledge in music.
6 – Your Entire Music Listening Experience Is Enhanced
Remember when you started playing the guitar and suddenly started to notice a lot of new nuances that are related to the guitar in songs that you were listening to? That you actually felt and imagined what it will be like to play that specific part that you listened to? Now imagine having that enhanced vision over more instruments and not just the guitar! Listening to music will become a much deeper experience, who can refuse to such thing!? Especially as a musician!
7 – You Can Cover Up For Band Members
You get to a band rehearsal or for a meeting with your regular jam buddies and the bassist did not make it? No problem, just pick it up yourself. You have a guest guitarist today and there are too many guitars going on in the room? No problem, step over to have fun on the keyboard. Etc.
8 – It Makes For One Heck Of An Ear Training Routine Without Even Trying!
When you are starting to naturally imprint the sound of a B note (for example) by playing it a lot on a trumpet, guitar, flute, harmonica, etc. it works on your ear from several fronts and gives you an ear training that no sole-instrument player can ever achieve. It will boost both your relative pitch and absolute pitch abilities without even trying.
9 – It’s A Joyful Lifelong Journey Of Progressing On Many Instruments
One of my favorite things about music (it’s actually true with all arts) in general is that you know that no matter where you are right now, in a few years from now you are going to be way better as long as you just keep playing. So why not have this feeling about more than one instrument?
I’m so happy whenever I think about how much I love the piano and all the other instruments, and I get even more excited just to think about how I will sound on all those instruments in a few years from now, not to mention 20 years from now. The sky’s the limit. Have this feeling too! Pick up another instrument.
10 – Loop Pedal Ventures
Talking ’bout one man bands… If you get a guitar loop pedal you can do some really amazing stuff when you have a couple of instruments at your reach. See the article about loop pedals for more stuff you can do with this neat lil’ pedal.
11 – Working Your Fingers in Different Ways Through Different Instruments Makes You a Better Player on All The Other Instruments as Well
Another one of those “domino” effects and criss-cross benefits. We play all the instruments with our fingers, and we need them to be in the best shape possible. Playing music eventually all comes down to using your fingers in a fast and precise way.
One of the exercises that made me a better guitar player and made my fingers feel much more smooth and responsive around the fretboard was actually a really good piano finger dexterity exercise that I did to get better on the piano! Only later I realized it helped me on even more instruments. It just lets you work your fingers and approach them from many different directions. It’s great!
12 – It’s Cool.
Yep, that’s an advantage as well. (-:
Surprising & Famous Multi-Instrumentalists
*Click on the name for a list of instruments.
Dave Grohl of Nirvana & Foo Fighters: The very likable Nirvana drummer who later became the guitarist and leader of Foo Fighters. This video is dedicated to the “Almost Famous” fans out there. And if you liked it, check this one too.
Paul McCartney of The Beatles.
John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival: The father of one of my favorite 70’s band. Big wheels keep on rollin’…
James Hetfield of Metallica.
Prince: In case you’re an 80’s groupie…
Billie Joe Armstrong of Greenday.
So I Want To Be a Multi-Instrumentalist. What’s a Good 2nd Instrument to Start with?
I posted a fully detailed article about it and it’s right here with a lot of interesting and very different instrumental options to look it. Obviously, music is free and there are no rules
I just went with what I felt attracted to, usually because of music genres that I was listening to. For example folk and Dylan is what got me into harmonica in the first place. A piano is something that usually all multi-instrumentalists would have in their list since it really is the father of all instruments and will help you the most with all the rest of the instruments.
Multi-instrumentalist on Wikipedia.
Have fun! Please let us know in the comments about further insights on the topic, your experiments with different instruments and anything else on your mind about multi instrumentalism.
* Painting by Bounce Bounce Bounce.