Lizbet Palmer Lizbet Palmer
Posted September 29th
Does the idea of playing another instrument intrigue you? Looking back on all the work you put into your first instrument might make learning a second one seem intimidating, but I’d like to encourage you to try it out! I started piano at age 6 and violin at age 9, and while my practice schedule could get a little crazy, I’m very happy I did it.
Learning the Second Instrument is Easier
Okay, technically speaking it’s not always easier (moving from piano to bagpipes, for example). Trust me, I’ve tried. There are things your muscles have to learn that are new for each instrument. But most instruments have the same fundamentals as far as note-reading, and when you understand the basics of music theory it’s easy to transfer that knowledge to another instrument. When I started violin, I had to build callouses and learn how to hold the instrument, but I progressed faster than my peers because I understood how the notes were supposed to sound and move. The initial hurdles that delay learning an instrument are cut in half. I’ve dabbled in other instruments and amazed other people at how easy it is for me - really, it’s just because I already understand how music works.
If you’re like me and do a lot of performing, knowing how to play more instruments will result in more gigs. I picked up viola in high school because hardly anyone played it, and suddenly the opportunities to play in wedding quartets were falling in my lap. Now, I’m in a band with my husband and the two of us are able to do more with our music because we both play multiple instruments.
More Tools for Creativity
Even if you don’t want to perform, having a second instrument gives you a new way to express yourself that may not be possible with your first instrument. There are times that one of my instruments feels better than the other depending on the particular style I want to play or the mood I’m in. If I want to try to work out something on violin, having the piano to help with tuning is incredibly valuable. If I want to cover a new song, sometimes it sounds better on piano than on violin. If I compose something, I’ve got multiple options for the type of sound I want and can layer more parts if I choose.
Learning a second instrument means putting yourself back in the shoes of a beginner, which can be hard. However, you’ll be able to better appreciate how far you’ve come on your first instrument, and you’ll gain respect for other musicians because you’ll be reminded that learning an instrument is not always easy. Finally, you’ll gain a greater appreciation for music holistically. Adding an instrument means adding a dimension to how you understand music, and you’ll be able to hear things in songs that you never heard before.
I may be a little bit biased, but I definitely think that learning a second instrument is a great choice! Think carefully about what instrument you’d like to play, and then go for it!