The Multi-Instrument Street Musician

The Multi-Instrument Street Musician

I want to share with you a great post I read on the Art of Manliness blog. It’s called The Multi-Instrument Street Musician and it’s all about how being able to play a variety of different instruments can greatly increase your chances at success as a street musician.

When I was in college, I had the privilege of studying under one of the best bassoonists in the world. He was an exceptionally talented guy who played regularly with some of the top orchestras in the country. But, during the summers he would make money performing at Renaissance Fairs, playing various woodwind instruments (including the crumhorn). Other than having fun playing music, why would an accomplished professional musician do this? Well, aside from making money, it gave him a chance to hone his skills on other instruments.

Don’t get me wrong. He wasn’t out there trying to make a career from being a “jack-of-all-trades” performer. Instead, he recognized that by broadening his musical abilities he would be able to more effectively expand his current marketable talents as a professional bassoon player. And, as you will see in the post

In the last few days, I have been reading a great blog post by Seth Godin titled “The Multi-Instrument Street Musician.” The article is about what it takes to be successful in any given field where you make your living. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the article:

“There’s a new way to be a musician. A street musician. One who plays for tips and applause on a virtual or real street corner, one song at a time.”

“The advantage of having multiple skills is that you can add them together in unexpected ways.”

“The multi-instrument street musician adapts quickly, he moves from genre to genre when necessary, he’s never boring and he’s always relevant.”

“It’s hard to learn two instruments at once (and I mean really learn them) but it’s impossible to get bored. So the multi-instrumentalist learns all kinds of music, even if he doesn’t master everything that comes his way.”

As a multi-instrumentalist, I am often asked by other musicians how to become one. For those of you who are unfamiliar with what the term means, it is someone who plays more than one instrument and can do so with a fair amount of competence.

There are many good reasons to be a multi-instrumentalist. It gives you diversity in your music, which is particularly valuable if you are a solo performer or small band. It also opens up more opportunities for you as far as gigs go, since some venues have very specific requirements about the instruments that will be used there (e.g., acoustic only). Being able to play multiple instruments also means that you can step in if someone else cannot make it to rehearsal or show time!

There is also another benefit of being a multi-instrumentalist that people don’t often think about: it makes you better at whatever instrument(s) you choose to focus on.

I’m a street musician and I’ve always been very fond of playing several instruments (especially on the street). The fact that I can play several instruments gives me a bigger range of possibilities regarding the songs I can play, the musical styles I can perform, the busking situations I can handle, etc.

But until now, I have never thought of it as an advantage in itself. I just didn’t think about it at all, to be honest. It was only today that I realized how much this has helped me as a street musician and how much it could help other musicians in their professional lives.

I have to say that this might not be true for everyone but in my case, it has been very beneficial for me.

If you are a multi-instrumentalist, or aspiring to be one, then this site is for you. I’ve been a multi-instrumentalist for several years now and have enjoyed every minute of it. The purpose of this blog is to share my experiences with others who may be interested.

I started playing drums in 4th grade band class and played all the way through high school. When I got to college I switched to bass guitar because my friend was starting a band and needed a bass player. In the time since then I’ve added guitar, piano and saxophone to my list of instruments that I can play well enough to be in a band with.

I actually prefer playing bass over drums these days and gig regularly with four different bands playing bass, guitar, saxophone or keys depending on what the song calls for.

Since I started playing music, I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of being a multi-instrumentalist. That is, being able to play more than one instrument. In this blog post, I wanted to share with you some of the benefits that playing more than one instrument can bring you and hopefully convince you to up your multi-instrumentalist game if you haven’t already.

1. More opportunities for gigs

2. Better chances of making money busking

3. More control over your sound

4. Different perspectives on music theory

5. Multi-instrumentalists are super cool

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