Is it hard to learn a second instrument?
Many high level musicians are multi-instrumentalists, but how did they get there? Do they possess an uncommon amount of talent, or were they just that much more dedicated to practicing? Below, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of playing a second instrument, how hard it might be, and the opportunities you can unlock by diversifying your skillset.
Is It Hard To Learn a Second Instrument?
Yes, it’s challenging to learn a second instrument, but in most cases, you’ll have an easier time with the second instrument than your first. You will already have a solid grasp of musical notation, time signatures, theory, and more, and you can relate your second instrument to the first.
Consider the Similarities Between Second Instruments and Languages
Some languages are similar, and some are wildly different. If you speak Italian, you should be able to learn Spanish relatively quickly compared to other languages. Perhaps Portuguese will come easily to you as well. If you decide to learn Japanese, though, it will be like starting from scratch.
The same principle applies to instruments. If you play the piano, you will have an easier time doubling as an organist or xylophone player. Picking up the saxophone will be a greater challenge. Switching between brass instruments and string instruments, of course, is very challenging, as are other combinations.
Other instruments are very easy (relatively) to double on. If you are a euphonium player, doubling on the tuba or trombone is a common and attainable goal. If you take flute lessons in Bucks County, you might practice the alto flute and piccolo to meet the needs of certain band and orchestral repertoire.
Is It Worth It To Learn Two Instruments?
Yes, as long as you have time to practice both instruments consistently, it’s certainly worth it. In popular music genres, it’s very common for band members to be multi-instrumentalists.
If you’re a pianist, you may sometimes feel left out of more social music-making activities like chamber music, orchestras, and bands. Learning a second instrument gives you the opportunity to audition for these ensembles, and you may find that a wind instrument is surprisingly simple after practicing the piano!
Another reason to double on a second instrument is to open professional opportunities. Many instrumentalists who can also play the piano at a high level will “gig” as accompanists. Brass players will often play multiple instruments, as orchestras don’t always need a euphonium, for instance.
Can It Be a Problem To Learn Multiple Instruments?
Knowing how to play several instruments is never a bad thing, of course. The issues arise when you don’t have enough time or discipline to practice them. If you are learning two instruments, but because you are overextended you only practice them a little bit here and there, you will never become advanced at either. But if you are able to devote concentrated practice to each (even just 30 minutes per day), you will see improvement in both instruments.
There are additional considerations for advanced musicians. If you are a performing pianist, or if you have important auditions coming up, practicing the organ may temporarily complicate the way you see the keyboard or feel the pedals. You may not want to clutter your mind with a similar, yet different, instrument. The same applies to brass musicians and string players; practicing a slightly different instrument (trumpet vs. french horn or violin vs. viola, for example) may “throw you off” if you have to perform in high leverage scenarios.
In Short, Learning a Second Instrument is Worthwhile
You won’t regret the time spent mastering a second instrument, and the benefits of producing your own multi-instrument recordings, collaborating with other musicians, and unlocking new opportunities is well worth the effort.
If you need piano instruction in Bucks County or anything else, please get in touch. I’d be happy to hear from you.