Being able to play a musical instrument is a truly incredible talent that is satisfying and lots of fun. Anyone can learn with good tuition, determination and the desire to be able to play the instrument of your choice.
This section of the website deals with musicians and the instruments they play. On a personal note, I play both guitar and bass guitar proficiently, while I also enjoy playing clarinet, piano and even the drums at a more amateur level just for fun.
The Benefits of Being Able to Play Your Instrument
Since I have been self recording my own songs since the 1980s on multi-track recorders in my home studio I learned to play all the instruments myself as well as vocals. It enabled me to completely control the way my songs got recorded and since I was doing it at home in my own time, there was no stress to get anything done inside a timeframe, as it would have been in a professional studio.
This for me has been a huge benefit and I'm pretty sure it will ring true to any aspiring musician who is serious about wanting to play. There are of course more!
One of the biggest positives is being able to play in a live band with real musical instruments and not have to put up with mind numbingly monotonous computer generated noise that is an excuse for music! I play in a live band and have done in several bands through out the years dating right back to the 1970s.
I can tell you from experience there is no better buzz than playing with other good musicians in front of an audience that gives you great feedback at the end of each song with applause. That's how you know you did a great job, entertained the audience and justified your fee at the end of the night!
Which Instrument Do You Want to Play?
Probably the majority of aspiring band members will start with the guitar as it can be learned fairly easily by most people with the rudiments of dexterity and coordination. Having a really good teacher is a great way to advance quickly, although you can get so far on your own but it takes longer and you can get into bad habits if there's nobody there to stop you.
It's not until you get to a semi-professional level on guitar that you start looking around for bands to join that you discover that most forming bands start with one or two guitarists and a vocalist and they're looking for a bassist and drummer and maybe a keyboard player too. I discovered this problem and although I have played in bands as lead guitarist (even a heavy metal band at one point in the early 90s), I have found it much easier to get a gig as a bassist.
That's because good guitarists are in plentiful supply, while good bass players and drummers are not.
You might want to remember that when you're choosing your instrument. Keyboard players are also generally easy to come by although you need to sift out the programmers and three finger pad chord merchants from the real players.
Not that I have anything against that kind of keyboardist, since that's about the level that I can play at! Its just that when you're in a live band and you decide you want a keyboard sound in there, you need a player that can play a piano properly and transfer that talent to the electric keyboard or synth.
Rarer still are great saxophone players, horn players and players of other less popularised instruments like flutes, oboes (and most other ones that you blow through) violins, cellos and percussionists for example. Going for more specialised variations is fine of you want to play a specific kind of music.
Tailoring Your Choice to Fit the Need
If you are more interested in pursuing a career in the music industry as a musician, you might consider choosing to play an unusual instrument that may be in short supply but where there is a definite need for your services.
For instance, there is a big rock 'n' roll fan base with bands that need stand-up double bass players. Think you can fill that space? If you can, you are almost guaranteed lots of live (and recording) work in the right areas!
Perhaps you are interested in playing country and western and want to be in big demand for what you do. Really good pedal steel guitar players are not so common and if you can master that piece of kit, you will find lots of work too.
Saxophonists that are versatile and can create a great live sound are also greatly sought after by bands that need that unique sound. The bonus with learning to play sax is you can transfer that knowledge to clarinet and oboe for some real specialist live sounds that a keyboard cannot replicate properly, at least not to discerning ears.
Or what about picking up the banjo and joining a bluegrass band? Or maybe learning the mandolin and getting into the folk scene? These are also pretty big niches and can produce lucrative work for the right person.
So playing a musical instrument is not just about wanting to copy your favourite rock star and shred guitar or thrash the living daylights out of a drum kit. Its also about finding a niche that you can occupy that will bring you lots of work and hopefully a decent living with it. You just need to make the right choice.
Articles and Reviews
To expand upon some of the things I've covered on this page and to provide you with more information on the different aspects of playing, here are some additional articles and reviews to help you to discover more about this fascinating area of life: