Musings of a Multi-Instrumentalist 

That title sounds like I’m bragging. I don’t mean to be. I started out a singer. I became a songwriter. I learned piano out of necessity in order to have something to help me write and, then, to be able to accompany myself when no one else was available to do so. Then…many years later, I became a ‘pianist’. It still shocks me when I hear someone refer to me as one. But, I’m digressing before I’ve even started. Yeah, I play multiple instruments…and that makes me cool. So there. 

I’ve come to the guitar late.  I should’ve done it much sooner. I’ll add that to the rest of the regrets in my Bottle. But, I came to it. Drawn, like a thing that gets drawn into another thing. And, the lesson here is:

Learning another instrument will make you a better musician and, specifically, it will make you more skilled with your primary or other instruments.

I had an experience last night to prove this. I had gone to a folk club to play with one of my bands, ‘The Way Out‘. I sing and, primarily, play piano in this band, although occasionally I play the lyre or spirit flute or percussion with them. I had my stage piano there to do my thing. 

At a folk club, generally it’s a sing around.  People take turns sharing songs and if anyone else in the group can ‘grab a note and hang on’ they’re welcome to do so. 

Also…it’s rare to see a piano at one of these places; most of the folkies play guitar or a stringed instrument of one sort or another (it’s common to see lutes, mandolins, along with the non fretted violins and violas, etc. Piano is a novelty). A woman from the group asked the others in the circle to join her and…instead of struggling to pick out what she was playing on the guitar by ear, I watched her fret hand.

I know those guitar chords now. So, all I had to do was watch her hand and I knew what to play on the piano. It was a serendipitous moment. 

I’ve had guitarists and bass players who know enough about the piano to watch my hands and, therefore, be able to spontaneously play with me in a jam session situation. And now I was doing it in reverse. 

Yeah… that’s cool. 

I’m loving playing guitar. It hurts. It’s difficult. I’m not great. I let my voice cover for mediocre playing…but, thankfully, I can do that. It’s therapy.  It’s rather magical. It’s one of the best things I’ve done in years…for many reasons. 

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