Naturally, every musician has an instrument they're best at – their primary instrument. But your primary instrument shouldn't be all you play – you should have secondary instruments, too. Whether you're a singer that plays viola and keys or a guitarist that plays percussion and bass, expanding your versatility as a musician is a major key to employability.
Most serious musicians want to make music their only career. And regardless of what shape that career takes – from performing and composing to teaching and tutoring – knowing how to play more than one instrument will only add to your credibility as a musician. Here are three reasons why you should play more than one instrument.
More Session Work
Session work has been called the bread and butter of performing artists, and that's the hard truth of it. Musicians who do session work successfully are often paid excellent wages for what they do, and they'll frequently work with the same studios and recording companies for years at a time. Playing more than one instrument – particularly if you're a singer – will open up a lot more opportunities for you to do session work, especially if you play instruments that aren't super common.
More Performance Work
If you're down to work with more than one musical act at a time, knowing multiple instruments can help you land multiple work offers – sometimes with prestigious groups. Some groups will only hire musicians that play two or more instruments, in light of the fact that they want to keep the lineup small but still have versatility of sound.
More Educational Work
Some musicians go the educational route, but even if you have an advanced degree in a specific instrument, educational institutions also value versatility. If you've studied a variety of instruments and can play several with proficiency, you're more likely to be able to effectively teach students outside the area of your main instrument.
If you plan to teach or coach, take the time to study multiple instrument groups while you're in university or conservatory – like one from strings, one from brass, several from percussion, and so on.
Versatility is a valuable commodity in the music industry no matter what you do. Versatility also often demonstrates commitment to excellence in music – and that commitment will impress your seriousness about music on everyone you work with. No matter what secondary instruments you decide to take up, know that doing so will enhance your career in music as well as help to ensure greater creative and financial success.