Q: I’m curious as to your opinion of secondary instruments for bassists. From a well-rounded musician perspective, I can see the value of being a multi-instrumentalist. From a gigging perspective, I would think that a bassist might be more marketable if he or she had show-ready skills on keys, or guitar, or ???…
A: I definitely agree that any musician would do well to explore other instruments. Especially for those that compose parts for other instruments, it really is necessary to get a feel for range, difficulty and just peek under the hood, so to speak, with regard to what it takes to play certain things.
Personally, I’ve always played drums as well as bass (I actually began my studies at Berklee as a drum principal and, later switched to bass). Understanding the drummer from the inside out has really helped me with my pocket, ability to lock in with a drummer and with my ability to foretell what a drummer may be doing rhythmically or what they may be building towards with a certain pattern or fill, etc.
I am also one of the many who wish that I could go back in time and really study the piano. I think playing other harmonic instruments gives one a stronger sense of harmony and bassists especially, could learn a lot getting adept at any other chordal instrument.
From a gigging perspective, I’m not entirely sure how much it helps aside from innately being better at really playing with other instrumentalists because of your insight into their process. Certainly, if you are good enough to take gigs on more than one instrument, that helps!
As musicians, we should explore everything musical! This includes exploring various styles of music, playing different instruments, learning to read the language, learning to sing… The list goes on. Explore it all! It can only make you a stronger musician.
If we always think of what will make us a better musician as opposed to only considering what will make us a better bassist or soloist, we will inevitably become more well-rounded players because of it.
What do you think? Share in the comments below…