The Multi-Instrumentalist’s Mindset: Should You Play More than One Instrument

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The Multi-Instrumentalist's Mindset: Should You Play More than One Instrument

The term multi-instrumentalist refers to a musician who is skilled in playing multiple musical instruments. Whether it’s a bassist who also plays guitar or a pianist who can also play drums, multi-instrumentalists are highly versatile musicians.

You may be wondering why anyone would want to play more than one instrument. After all, mastering just one particular instrument takes a lot of time and effort. However, there are many benefits to being a multi-instrumentalist, from expanding your musical knowledge to opening up more performance opportunities.

In this post, we will explore the mindset behind being a multi-instrumentalist and whether it’s the right path for you or your child. Let’s jump right in:

Famous Multi-Instrumentalists as Inspiration

Before we dive into the mindset of a multi-instrumentalist, let’s take a look at some famous musicians who have successfully mastered multiple instruments. These individuals have not only achieved great success in their music careers but also served as inspiration for aspiring multi-instrumentalists.

Multi-instrumentalist inspirations
Image: wikipedia
  • Prince: Known for his incredible guitar skills, Prince was also proficient in playing drums, bass, keyboards, and more. He played most of the instruments on his albums, showcasing his diverse musical abilities.   
  • Stevie Wonder: This iconic singer and songwriter is also an accomplished musician on various instruments, including piano, drums, bass, and harmonica. His ability to seamlessly transition between instruments during live performances is truly impressive. 
  • Paul McCartney: As one of the members of The Beatles, Paul McCartney is known for his stellar bass playing. However, he can also play guitar, piano, drums, and even the ukulele. He has released solo albums where he plays all of the instruments himself.

These are just a few of the countless examples of musicians who have mastered multiple instruments. 

Combining Instruments: Challenges and Rewards

Playing multiple instruments may seem like the ultimate musical dream, but it does come with some challenges. Here are a few things to consider before deciding to play multiple instruments:

  • Time Commitment: Learning and mastering one instrument takes time and dedication. Adding another instrument to the mix means dividing your time and focus between both, potentially slowing down progress in both.
  • Skill Set: Each instrument requires a different set of skills, techniques, and muscle memory. Switching between other instruments may be challenging at first and can require additional practice to maintain proficiency in each. 
  • Financial Investment: Instruments can be expensive, and the more you have, the more money you will need to invest. It’s essential to consider your budget before taking on multiple instruments.

With that being said, there are many rewards to being a multi-instrumentalist that can make the challenges well worth it.

Benefits learning multiple instruments

Benefits of Learning Multiple Instruments

Here are some (but certainly not all) of the benefits of being a multi-instrumentalist: 

1. Expanded Musical Knowledge

Learning multiple instruments exposes you to a wider range of musical styles, techniques, and theories. You’ll gain a deeper understanding of music as a whole, rather than just one specific instrument or genre.

This broad knowledge can also help you become a more versatile musician, able to adapt and play different styles with ease. You may even find that your skills on one instrument improve after learning another, as the techniques and theory can often be applied to different instruments.

2. Improved Cognitive Abilities

Learning an instrument has been linked to improved cognitive abilities, such as memory, problem-solving skills, and hand-eye coordination. By learning multiple instruments, you are continuing to challenge your brain and improve these areas of cognition. This can also have a positive impact on other aspects of your life outside of music.

3. Collaboration Opportunities

Being a multi-instrumentalist opens up numerous collaboration opportunities with other musicians. You can easily switch between instruments or even play multiple at once, making you a valuable asset to any musical group. 

This also allows you to contribute ideas and create unique sounds that may not have been possible with the same instrument you started with.

Musical Development in Children

Kids learning multiple instruments

There is evidence that learning multiple instruments from a young age can have numerous benefits for children’s musical development. It allows them to explore different sounds, techniques, and styles, helping them find their own unique musical identity.

It may also help with brain development and cognitive abilities in children as they are constantly challenged and engaged in learning new skills. This can have a positive impact on their overall academic performance.

Furthermore, learning several instruments can also help children develop a sense of discipline and time management as they balance their practice time. This skill can translate into other areas of their life as well.

Tips for Encouraging a Multi-Instrumentalist Child

If you have a child who shows interest in learning multiple instruments, here are some tips to encourage and support their musical journey:

  • Encourage Exploration: Let your child try out different instruments and see which ones they gravitate towards. This will help them find their own passion and motivation for learning.
  • Provide Opportunities for Exposure: Take them to concerts or introduce them to different genres of music. This can expand their musical horizons and inspire them to learn a new instrument.  
  • Support Their Practice Routine: Learning multiple instruments can be challenging, so it is important to help your child stay on track with their practice routine. Set a schedule and provide positive reinforcement when they achieve their goals.
  • Find a Good Teacher: It is essential to find a qualified and patient teacher who can guide your child in learning different instruments. They can also offer guidance on how to balance practicing multiple instruments effectively.
  • Be Patient and Understanding: Learning different instruments takes time and effort, so be patient with your child. Don’t pressure them or compare their progress with others. Instead, focus on supporting and encouraging their musical growth.
Teaching child play instruments

How to Balance Practice Time for Different Instruments

Practicing multiple instruments requires discipline and time management. So, if you or your child is interested in pursuing various instruments, it’s essential to create a balanced practice schedule.

To do this, we recommend creating a weekly practice schedule that includes specific times for each instrument. For example, Monday and Wednesday can be designated for piano practice, while Tuesday and Thursday can be for guitar practice. This will ensure that all instruments receive equal attention.

It’s also important to be mindful of the level of difficulty and time commitment required for each instrument. If one instrument is more challenging or time-consuming than the other, it may be necessary to adjust the practice schedule accordingly.

Finding Music Teachers for Multiple Instruments

Music schools and private instructors can offer lessons for various instruments, making it easier to find teachers for your child’s musical interests. It’s essential to research and read reviews before choosing a teacher to ensure they have experience in teaching multiple instruments.

Another option is to find a teacher who specializes in teaching two or more instruments. They can provide guidance on how to balance practice time and help your child progress efficiently on all their chosen instruments.

Ready to Get Started?

At Be Natural Music, we offer lessons for various instruments, including piano, guitar, drums, and more. Our experienced teachers in Santa Cruz and Cupertino are dedicated to helping students of all ages and skill levels achieve their musical goals. Contact us today to schedule a lesson and start your musical journey!

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Matthew Pinck

Matt, fondly known as "Yoga Matt" on stage, has collectively studied music since the age of five and has been teaching in Santa Cruz County since 1998. Among his arsenal of music expertise are: guitar, vocals, composition, piano, electric bass and drums. His vast formal training has taken place in top schools, such as UC Santa Cruz, UC Berkeley, and Cabrillo College, eventually earning his Bachelors in Jazz Guitar from Skidmore College in New York.

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