I am sure most musicians think about it.
Trying something new.
You think about it even more, once you feel you’ve mastered your instrument and you begin itching for another challenge.
But, should you do it?
And if so, why?
The truth is, there are multiple benefits for musicians who jump into learning a new instrument.
Whether you tackle a related instrument, like a guitarist who learns the drums, or a completely different challenge, like a DJ who learns the violin, doing so will benefit you both personally and professionally.
Below you’ll find some of the best, though maybe not the most obvious, reasons why it is a good idea to take on learning a new instrument.
Why To Learn A New Instrument
Flexibility / Career Expansion
This part may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to address.
You open new doors for yourself and create flexibility in your career with the ability to play more than one instrument. It may mean more paying gigs, or even just being able to bounce into different genres of music.
Having the knowledge to play in more than one type of band can be greatly beneficial to your career. It gives you the ability to take on more business opportunities that you would have to pass over otherwise.
The know-how to play different instruments gives you a huge advantage when looking to join a group, as well. Let’s just say, for instance, a group only needs one guitarist. Or they only need one trumpet player. Or just one violinist.
And they already have someone who plays that instrument.
If that’s the ONLY instrument you know, there is no place for you. Knowing more than one instrument, on the other hand, makes you more valuable to any group.
Whereas you might be passed over for a spot in a band, orchestra or symphony if you only know one instrument (and it is the wrong one, i.e. one they do not need), knowing how to play two, doubles your chances of getting a spot.
This is related to the previous point. Picking up a second instrument should be seen as an opportunity to become more versatile in the music field in general. Yes, if you already know guitar and you start taking piano lessons, you will be able to use both instruments, which makes it easier to land gigs or other types of work.
But more than that, you will be able to create new sounds and add a different feeling to songs you have already mastered on your first instrument. If you write your own music, having the ability to play a second instrument can add a whole new dimension to your existing songs.
Songs you have previously rocked on the guitar sound even sweeter with a simple piano accompaniment, and can have a different emotional feel that will attract new attention. It also makes it easier to sell your music.
If you’re an instructor and you teach guitar, learning piano, keyboard, etc. can add value to your business. Suddenly, you have doubled the number of potential students (ignoring the relative popularity of various instruments, of course).
What you are doing, in effect, is giving your music an opportunity to be more versatile, not just
yourself. This increases your options even beyond just having more opportunities because you qualify for more positions or gigs. You can create new types of music and add new levels of complexity to your existing catalog.
In short, knowing a second instrument opens up new avenues for creativity, just like it opens up new career avenues.
Appreciation / Knowledge
This may seem a little silly, but it’s an important point and an important benefit.
You gain a deeper connection and appreciation for music when you learn more than one instrument, because your overall music knowledge increases. Learning another instrument won’t make you any smarter per se, but you will gain new perspectives and new insights into the world of music.
The knowledge you have with your first instrument is also expanded. Let’s say, for instance, you
know how to play piano and you decide to learn the bass guitar. Though you are already aware of the bass clef in music, and how to use it on the piano, when learning bass guitar you will be concentrating and focusing much more on the bass clef portion of your music.
Your knowledge is going to broaden and you will become sharper and more skilled in that area.
This new insight will even transfer back to your original instrument, the piano in our example, and make you a better piano player.
You’re going to learn more about the new instrument you take on, but also the instrument you have already mastered, heightening your expertise within the field of music as a whole. You grow as a person and as a musician, which opens more doors for you, whether you teach or play.
Ignite a New Passion
Playing instruments is great for your health, including your mental health.
So how does that work if you’re learning a new one?
When taking on a new instrument, you have to start at the beginning. This can be very challenging and humbling when you are already skilled at one instrument.
Mentally, this may not feel good in the moment, but the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel after conquering a new musical instrument can be euphoric.
Besides challenging yourself mentally, there are numerous other benefits to broadening your knowledge and opportunities.
Not only are you opening up yourself to more career options and to personal growth, you ultimately could ignite a stronger passion than the one you already have.
If you love the piano and enjoy playing it immensely, and decide to take on the guitar next, you could fall in love with the guitar and end up focusing more on it. It could become your preferred instrument to play or teach.
How long does it take to learn guitar? Who cares! You’re having a blast and it looks like it might even bring you more joy and fulfillment than your first instrument ever did.
Go For It
You should never stop learning. Your craft is your passion and a large part of who you are.
And who knows?
Maybe you’ll actually end up loving that new instrument more than the one you play currently.
Or if you learn to sing, you may find a new passion and start singing your songs as well as playing them on your first instrument, giving you double the exposure.
Your knowledge increases, you gain more flexibility, you learn to have a new and fresh
appreciation for music, you open up new genres, and you have a lot more opportunity to expand
your career when taking on a new instrument.
If you’re already an experienced musician in one area, it’s time to start fresh and learn something new. It can only help you be a better and more well-rounded musician and person