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Does learning a New Instrument Help or Hinder?

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Feb 6, 2020 - 8:17:36 PM

71253 posts since 5/9/2007

I like when I'm visiting someone and didn't bring my banjo but there was a guitar or mandolin,there.
I think it helped that I played everything with a flat pick for the first 10 years.
I enjoyed Charlie Cushman's guitar playing with "The Earls of Leicester" earlier in 2019.

Feb 7, 2020 - 3:58:08 AM
Players Union Member



12353 posts since 8/30/2006

You now have a music lab in your brain, remodel and expand the reference library.

In our group, The Minutemen, we taught each other how to play guitar, mandolin and banjo, then we would switch off in different songs.

"Whitewater" from Idaho had all five people rotating on instruments like volleyball. Very pro showmanship.

Cool Avatar, dude.

Feb 7, 2020 - 9:08:55 AM

71253 posts since 5/9/2007

I also think singing helps one's banjo and guitar playing.
I don't see them as getting in each other's way.

I believe all those things together are worth more than the sum of their parts.

Feb 7, 2020 - 12:26:34 PM

120 posts since 11/3/2011

IMO, everyone that plays bluegrass on whatever instrument(s) should learn some basic rhythm guitar. Especially beginners.  It will help with understanding the music and communicating with other pickers.

The best benefit is being able to sight read the chord shapes of the guitar player to follow along with unfamiliar songs, no matter what instrument you are playing.

But whatever other instruments to you take time to learn will take time away from learning the banjo. 

Edited by - tbab2057 on 02/07/2020 12:40:19

Feb 7, 2020 - 2:45:21 PM

71253 posts since 5/9/2007

I've found plenty of time for guitar and mandolin.Kept me from getting bored and I found that I understood better how the other bandmates needed their expressive space and how to compliment rather than compete with that expression.

Feb 7, 2020 - 4:25:05 PM

71253 posts since 5/9/2007

I made good progress learning the banjo while at the same time learning to go lobstering and dragging.It's called multi-tasking.

Edited by - steve davis on 02/07/2020 16:28:08

Feb 12, 2020 - 4:57:06 AM

13 posts since 8/4/2018

I've been playing the 5 string now for almost 2 years. I took piano lessons about ten years ago and still plunk out a tune or two. It really helps as it helps to maintain my chord knowledge. Many years ago, at age 13, I took drum lessons and recently received a snare drum from someone, so I bought a couple of books and got reacquainted with the snare drum. That helps with timing, brings back memories, and I still enjoy that as well. I retired from my last formal job almost 8 years ago now, and for a present from me to me, I bought an alto saxaphone. I took a few lessons to get the hang of it, and like the banjo, I teach myself for the most part. I found that spending the first part of the day, rather than saving the late evening when I'd rather plunk down and relax, is the best time for me to practice, although whenever I pass by an instrument, I have trouble not grabbing it and making it sing, if even for a moment or two. I play all of these more for my own amusement, but tend to focus more on the 5 string as it's the newest addition. I also have a harmonica and tin whistle. I can play a couple of tunes on each of those. So short answer is, no, it doesn't impede learning an instrument to pick up another. It enhances it. It's all music. It all intertwines. Go for it. You may find you're better at it then the first one and enjoy it more. I'm not of the mind you have to master everything you set out to do. I'd rather try a lot of things and be able to do them to some degree, enough to enjoy and not annoy.

Feb 12, 2020 - 6:34:35 AM

71253 posts since 5/9/2007

It all helps your ears and muscle memory.

Feb 12, 2020 - 8:26:46 AM

474 posts since 9/21/2018

I've been learning the ukulele as my daughter takes lessons so I can help her with practice every week and I think that it definitely has helped build my left hand with the different chord structures and having to wedge my sausage fingers into the much smaller fret board.

Yes, this is a run on sentence.

Feb 15, 2020 - 9:15:51 PM

149 posts since 6/25/2016

You might consider taking up dobro. It's usually tuned much like the banjo, unlike the mando which is tuned in 5ths. It's played with fingerpicks, so it's easy to switch instruments for a song or two and makes use of the right hand skills that you've already developed. And I like that it's kind of the "anti-banjo" in sound, lyrical where the banjo is percussive, so it stretches my musical brain in a different direction. Some of the tunes I play with friends aren't very "banjo-istic", and those often benefit from my switching to the dobro. (In addition to bluegrass and fiddle tunes, we do some things like "Doctor My Eyes", "Time After Time", ...)

Oh, and the answer to your core question, is that if you have the urge to take up another instrument you should absolutely go for it.

Feb 16, 2020 - 2:26:07 AM



7 posts since 1/6/2020

I notice my blues playing on guitar improving the more I learn the banjo.
Possibly seems better as I'm a beginner on the banjo but I'm finding new guitar licks I didn't know before.

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