Learning your first instrument can sometimes feel impossible. Why on earth would you want to learn a second? I’m going to use this article to convince you that learning a second instrument is not only a great use of your time, but it may be better than spending time with your first instrument!
Considering the amount of time and effort required to learn an instrument this is not an easy proposition. If you’re like me, your first instrument took years to learn. The initial stages were full of struggle and hard work. You not only had to build the muscle memory, but you had to wrap your head around music theory and composition. So why do it again?
Well, for starters, it’s going to be easier. Learning an instrument is as much about developing a habit as it is learning the muscle memory. Once you have the habit down, there is nothing stopping you from using it to pick up another instrument.
Your knowledge of music theory will speed up the process and cut out much of the difficulty the typical beginner will face. No struggling with the chromatic scale, keys, or reading.
Additionally, your muscle memory will likely transfer over as well – speeding up the process even more. The musical skills you’ve created with your first instrument will be set and ready to go for round two.
In other words, your previous skill in music will provide the momentum required to carry you through the struggles of the initial stage.
Speaking from personal experience, I was able to pick up the keys in half the time it took to learn the guitar. If you’re a guitar player, I highly recommend considering learning the keys as your second instrument. Especially considering the amount of budget-friendly digital pianos now available.
Music is a language. Once you’ve picked it up once, the second time is much easier.
What if you’re an adult? Can it be done? Yes! Check out the video below for another perspective.
What’s more, it provides you with a completely new perspective. While the main tenants of music theory remain constant, I find each instrument has its own flavour.
While one chord progression may sound fantastic on guitar, you may find it to be lacking on piano. The nuances of your saxophone may not transfer over if you pick up a trumpet. Your rhythm from drums won’t be much help on the harp.
What it will do is increase your creativity in both directions. Your guitar playing will have affects on your trumpet, and vice versa. Have you ever tried playing a saxophone solo on the guitar? Taking ideas from your sax and trying them on guitar can result in something really special.
Taking a piece you’ve written for guitar and playing it on the piano may breathe new life into the song and take you in an entirely new direction. The list goes on.
The mixing of musical styles results in a level of creativity only possible if you’re experienced with more than one instrument.
Writer’s block is something we all have to deal with. It just so happens that multi-instrument musicians have to deal with it a little less.
It’s very easy to get stuck in a rut with a single instrument. Unless you are extremely well versed, you’ll always run into limitations with music theory, variety, or just new ideas in general. I’m sure we’ve all been excited about a new composition only to later realize it sounds exactly the same as the last song we produced.
This problem is easily minimized if you can play multiple instruments. The musical habits/style you develop with one instrument won’t exactly match the other.
The chord progressions you like on piano will likely be different than those you prefer on guitar. The natural layout difference between instruments usually results in unique melodies and phrasing. Additionally, each instrument has its unique subtleties when it comes to soloing.
If you’re ever stuck with writer’s block simply pick up your second instrument and carry on!
Have you ever heard the term “think like a guitar player?” Each type of musician comes at music a little differently. Learning a second instrument will sharpen your ears and allow you to hear things from another angle.
You’ll eventually begin to hear the different chord voicings on piano, or actually appreciate what the brass section of your band is doing. Monophonic musicians may develop a new appreciation for harmony through learning a polyphonic instrument.
Additionally, your enjoyment of listening music will be increased.
You’ll begin to take notice of the organ playing in the background, or the drum pattern gluing things together. The string section will come to life once you start tackling the cello.
Things once hidden will come to life. What more could a music-lover ask for?
While the above points have mostly focused on your skills as a musician, learning a new instrument can result in some interesting jam sessions.
I personally love to change instruments a few times during a jam session. It breathes life into the jam session and mixes things up. Often, things become really interesting if you can switch instruments mid-song.
It also gives you much more versatility with whom you can jam with. Don’t have a keys player? No problem. Have 6 guitar players and no sax player? Sign me up!
You’ll find your opportunities will double if you can play an instrument other than guitar.
While I won’t pretend to be the authority on the best instruments to play, there are some easy transitions you can make if you’re afraid to take the leap. You should also check out this guide on which instrument is right for you – plenty of good information here.
Making the switch from a polyphonic to monophonic instrument (say from keys to the trumpet) will also be eye opening. Your soloing skills will blossom and you’ll become incredibly sought-after for jam sessions.
I hope this has convinced you to take a swing at another instrument. You will only be doing yourself a favour. I can only think of good things that come from more time invested in learning music.
As always, we’d appreciate a share on social media if you’ve found this useful. Until next time!
This article was written by Glen Parry of Audio Mastered. Glen has been a musician for over 15 years. He’s done everything the hard way so you don’t have to. You can find more musical advice and audio gear buying guides over at AudioMastered.com.Are you a guitarist? Check out our full range of online guitar lessons