Just when you’re done learning the piano, you get intrigued by the violin. And you’re thinking when you’ll be able to learn another? There’re also the drums, whose beats send you on a crescendo. One thing about being a musician is that it opens your heart to great concepts in music and you are pushed to learn other instruments. So, if you are a pianist, for instance, you can switch things up by deciding to try out other instruments.
You should hold some degree of competency before adding more to your repertoire, the reason being that you will not be able to increase your skill if you are constantly switching instruments.
Should I learn a new instrument while not proficient at one?
Well, there are many ways to approach this question. One school of thought would tell you that it depends. If you can barely play one instrument, it is best that you don’t bother learning something new. You should at least be able to play something musical and sound good on your current instrument. Another school of thought would say that you can learn two instruments concurrently if you know how to manage your time properly. The basis of you wanting to learn a new instrument should be that you know how to budget your time properly.
Learning a new instrument while not proficient at one depends on your motive for learning in the first place. If you are learning a new instrument just so you can get familiarized with many instruments before picking the one that interests you, that is acceptable. However, if you are learning a new instrument, while not proficient at one, for the monetary gains, then you’ll be making a big mistake.
Should you choose a similar instrument?
Switching from learning how to play the drums to learning how to play the guitar is never going to be easy. The reason being that neither instruments are similar in any way. While the guitar gives off sounds via strings, the drums rely on the skillfulness of its player at hitting it. This creates the question whether choosing a similar instrument is best if you want to learn a new instrument. Well, first off, why do you want to learn a new instrument?
If you are learning a new instrument as a matter of compulsion, say to get access to a band or if your creating your own music and songs, then you can decide to learn any instrument that is required of you.
However, if you are learning it for pleasure, it is best to learn a similar instrument. The reason for this is because they are very similar to the main instrument you’re already playing, that is why it’s easier to switch from playing the ukulele to the guitar or violin to cello, rather than going from one of those to the drums or brass instrument.
If you can define your motives for learning the new instrument, you would have better clarity at choosing the instrument to learn.
Why learn a New Instrument?
Like most other arts, learning an instrument is a cognitive process that does a lot for us, consciously and otherwise. There are so many reasons why one should learn a new instrument.
Creating new connections in your brain
According to research, the learning process rewires the brain. When you learn something new, your brain opens up to new possibilities. All good musicians have one thing in common: training.
Learning to play an instrument requires time and patience. As the saying goes “practice makes perfect”. Worthy of note is the fact that learning a new instrument requires consistency in training and that doesn’t make it easier. Rather, it causes a change to the brain. It helps to develop the way the brain functions.
Many people get it wrong by thinking that the brain loses its capacity to develop once you have passed your teenage years. This is not true. The brain does not stop developing. Rather, it continues to grow over the course of our lives. New cells form and create new connections with one another. So, the more the cells grow, the more you have the capacity to learn. Ironically, learning new things forms the basis for the new cells growing.
Improving your hand-eye coordination
You must have good hand-eye coordination to play an instrument. Essentially, playing a musical instrument requires you to master how to combine your visual skills with your tactile skills. An example of hand-eye coordination in musical instruments is playing the piano.
Playing the piano requires you to be able to master the use of your visual prowess thereby allowing the brain to be able to send signals that would guide your hands to know what to play. Your hand-eye coordination is your ability to carry out activities that involve the synchronized use of your hands and eyes.
Now, what are some things you can do to improve your hand-eye coordination?
1. You can take up a sport as a hobby: Almost all kinds of sport would require you to have a mastery of your hand-eye coordination. Even something as simple as exercise requires a certain degree of hand eye coordination as it prompts you to make new movements.
2. Play video games: Playing video games requirey you to have mastery of your hand and eye coordination or else you will lose in that game. So, to help perfect your hand-eye coordination, you could play some video games.
Becoming a Jack of all trades or master of one?
It is possible to become a Jack of all trades. You can, all you need is time and dedication. There is nothing wrong with having know-how on other instruments even if it is not your main instrument. There are people who can play up to 6 musical instruments. Several iconic stars and even modern musicians can play a number of instruments, but only choose to focus on a major instrument. So, it is possible to have an idea of how to play many instruments.
Another alternative is being a master of one. You could decide to dedicate the energy you could have used on other instruments to one instrument. So, instead of learning how to play the keyboard, the guitar, the violin, the saxophone, and many more. You can decide to focus on one and be the very best at it. Which is easier? Definitely being the master of one.
Why it could be good to be a “Jack of all trades” if you’re easily bored
If you are easily bored, you could leverage on that to be a master of all. How? Being easily bored means that you can’t spend too much time on one instrument. So, since you cannot spend too much time on one, you can do that on many. Usually, people who are easily bored need to experiment with new things. They want to experience what it feels like to be on another instrument and that is good.
So, if you are one of the many people out there who get easily bored with one instrument, you can use that as an opportunity to learn something new. Of course, your reason for learning the new instrument would be that you are bored, but then again, in the process, you are getting yourself familiarized with multiple instruments. And with time, the epithet “Jack of all trades” would fit well.
Practice makes perfect: How to set your goals?
The more you practice, the better you get at playing the instrument of your choice. So, ensure that you never stop practicing. Do all you can to ensure that you learn something new on a daily basis. There are so many things involved in learning how to play a musical instrument.
For instance, if you are learning how to play the drums, there are hundreds of principles you must know to become really skilled. Like understanding the metronome, what sticks size fits you, knowing how to tune your drums, and so on.
The same goes for other instruments. There is never an end to the wealth of knowledge that you can get. So, by all means ensure that you do not stop practicing. While practicing, have targets. Having a target would help you get better at perfecting whatever you are learning.
Making time to learn more than one instrument
Learning more than one instrument requires a lot of time. You should be able to create time to pay attention and get the details of each instrument. Truth is, nothing good comes easy. If you want to be able to play multiple instruments, then you would have to make sacrifices and that includes finding the time to learn them, at all costs.
Being a multi-instrumentalist has many advantages. You’d always be engaged and never be bored. Also, it helps to broaden the way you think and approach things. So, with this knowledge, you can go ahead to learn more than one instrument.
A good idea is to allocate one day for one instrument and another for the next. Or have a set time in the morning for the violin and later in the day practice the cello. This way your brain has time to rest in between and can soak up those new muscle movements
Finding a good teacher
It is one thing to be committed to learning, it is another to have a good teacher. Having a bad teacher can hamper your ability to learn. This is because a teacher has a lot of power over the student and so, if the teacher is not fully knowledgeable about the instrument, the student would have nothing to take home.
There are music schools online and even around you, just like signing up at a gym, you can decide to sign up at one of them. Signing up to a music school is a good option if you are taking it seriously to learn more than one instrument as it will be easier to go to the same location for tutoring rather than several and most music teachers can play multiple instruments.
Learning a new instrument isn’t a bad idea. However, to learn and play multiple instruments you must be willing to sacrifice a fair bit as it takes quite a lot of time and dedication