I wanted to know if there is any contradiction when someone is learning several different instruments?

For example, I am learning to play piano . Would becoming a good piano player in any way hold me back from playing another instrument professionally?

P.S. Sorry i couldn't explain well

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    It is certainly good to be able to play as many different types of instrument as possible (i.e. keyboards, string, wind, percussion, guitar, etc...) but that is not the same as playing them all at a professional level. For example, if you spend an hour or two playing violin and immediately switch to piano, your left wrist suddenly has to do completely different things and your left arm has to work in a completely different position. That switch-over is hard to do, and can hurt (literally!) - which is not a good thing in the long run.
    – user19146
    Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 11:57
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    More so than difficulty of learning the physical instrument, I have found that cross-over difficulty for multi-instrumentalists comes from bridging the gap of musical styles and training. For instance having a classically-trained musician (who typically works in a single key) move towards a more free-form style of music (like jazz) can be difficult. Likewise, I've heard Euro-American percussionists talk about how difficult it is to rewire their brains to allow them to play South American rhythms. That "overcoming your training" is where any difficulty will lie.
    – user35763
    Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 15:50
  • Lookup Howard Levy =) Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 19:38
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    Just one person's experience, but I remember from my band and orchestra days in high school that the poly-instrumentalists amongst us were the best of the best. There were two in my trombone section that also studied piano, and they were far above everyone else in trombone ability. Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 2:06

4 Answers 4


It's good to keep in mind that it takes a lot of practice to learn an instrument. You have to dedicate a lot of time and it will take years to become a good piano player (same for all the instruments). So, if you want to learn how to play multiple instruments, you will have to practice all of them. If you don't have a lot of time, it will be hard to practice them at the same period of time.

This doesn't mean you cannot. A lot of people practice their skills on multiple instruments.

Would becoming a good piano player in any way hold me back from playing another instrument professionally?

Of course not. Quite the opposite, in fact! I started with double bass for a few years and then I started playing the piano and the fact that I already knew rhythm, melodies, harmony, theory etc, made it easier to learn the piano. If you already know an instrument, it's going to be easier to learn another one. To oversimplify it, you just have to learn the technique in the new instrument.

So my advice would be to start with the one you want to start with (I guess piano in your case) and then if you have the time, take up another one. But, I would also suggest that you take up the second instrument after you have learnt quite decent piano, because otherwise, it'd be quite difficult to learn from scratch two totally new instruments when you don't know anything about music.

  • thanks . this question took my mind because i heard practicing some sports makes paying some instruments harder . i think what i heard was swimming or tennis would make playing piano harder due to the changes made to the muscles. anyway , thank you very much.
    – Hitman2847
    Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 9:29
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    @Hitman2847 That's a different subject. If you build a lot of muscle, it might be more difficult to play an instrument Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 9:51
  • Thanks, by the way can i start learning guitar with electric guitar or bass , or i should start with classic guitar? It would help me a lot
    – Hitman2847
    Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 12:01
  • @Hitman2847 you can start with electric guitar, yes. If you are not interested in classical guitar, don't start with that, but id you do, it will definitely help with your technique. But if you want to start with guitar, start with a guitar, not a bass Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 13:05
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    I have never met a professional classical performer of any instrument who did not have modest facility playing the piano. It can be very helpful. Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 18:12

One of the more dangerous combinations is piano and piano accordion. The similarity of the keyboard leads to a conflation of technique that results in "lowest common denominator" approaches.

The piano is a percussive string instrument featuring impetus-sensitive attack and rather fuzzy decay, the accordion is a continuous-tone wind instrument with an attack basically insensitive to key impulse and a very precise key release imprint that, through bellows inertia, also impacts the strength of the next attack, making leggiero articulation the core of fast play, and continuous bellows control the core of slow emotional play. You would not expect to change from hurdygurdy to violin without significant investment in bow technique, either...

In this case it is more the "similarity" of the controllers that is masking core differences. In a similar vein, few people are renowned for both piano and organ playing skills, even though harpsichord and organ is not all that uncommon as combination.

So when going for multiple instruments, it might be prudent to pick something which significantly differs in its controls. That way, you are less tempted to skip over basics that may make a difference in why people would rather hear you play a real instrument than a keyboard controller with sampled sounds of it.

  • your answer wasn't totally wrong . but since it did not totally fit the question i didn't mark it . hopefully i will vote it up when i have 15 reputation points . thnx
    – Hitman2847
    Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 9:27
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    " few people are renowned for both piano and organ playing skills" - because the playing techniques for those instruments are very different! The fact that they both happen to have similar-looking keyboards might make someone think otherwise, but it is almost irrelevant except at an "elementary" level.
    – user19146
    Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 11:54
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    I can also attest to the differences between piano and organ at a more general level. At one time I played both and not only was the feel of the keyboard different but the style of playing is different as well. The addition of bass pedals completely changes what you're doing with your left hand which can be difficult if you're not familiar with playing more melodic phrases with the left hand (rather than chords and bass notes as on the piano) and also makes arranging for or improvising on the instrument quite different and you can't just transfer these skills from the piano to the organ. Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 14:15
  • I thought Michael Johnson was going to say "The addition of [bass] pedals completely changes what you are doing with your [feet.] Which is more accurate than what he did say. For example, "if you're not familiar with playing more melodic phrases with the left hand (rather than chords and bass notes as on the piano)..." That sounds like he has limited exposure to classical (at least) piano repertoire. Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 18:18

The first thing to emphasise is that "professional" and "highly skilled" do not necessarily go hand in hand. The Sex Pistols were professional musicians, but you wouldn't use them as examples of how to play their instruments well!

It's also important to emphasise that expecting to become a professional musician when you're just starting is wildly over-optimistic. From all the people who start playing instruments, maybe 1 in 20 stick with it long enough that they can earn a bit of beer money playing in an pub band. Maybe 1 in 1000 are good enough to earn a living from it - and most of them will be working as music teachers. Something like 1 in 100,000 will be good enough to earn a living wage solely from performing.

You certainly will find that different instruments need different techniques. Synth and piano will need different ways of playing and thinking about the sound, for instance. That doesn't make it impossible to learn both, but you do need to remember that they are different instruments, and you can't assume that skills on one will always transfer. Even different examples of the same instrument will need time to learn their specific characteristics - on a piano, for instance, the hammer action can be radically different between different pianos, and it can take a few hours of playing to really get the hang of a new one.

  • ...The Sex Pistols were professional musicians... Not really. "Entertainers" is more apropos than "musicians" - entertaining while holding an instrument and making some quasi-musical noise doesn't make one a "musician".... IDK about the Sex Pistols, but we do know that very often when such groups record in a studio, sessions musicians - people who actually are professional musicians- do the most of the actual playing.
    – Stinkfoot
    Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 22:40
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    @Stinkfoot that comment would be better directed at a lot of modern pop musicians, it's not really true about the sex pistols music. The parts aren't that difficult, but that's not really the point now is it.
    – Some_Guy
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 19:21
  • @Some_Guy - it's been true for a long time. Trust me on this.... :) The point is I don't care to hear the term "professional musician" cast about cavalierly. IMO there's a big difference between a "professional musician" and a "professional entertainer", even if they use/play music. (You owe me an answer about the chromatic harp layout...)
    – Stinkfoot
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 19:27
  • @Stinkfoot I'm under no illusions about the musicianship or lack thereof of post-war commercial "musicians", but as you said yourself, you don't know much about the sex pistols so perhaps you should pause for a second before coming at a subject on which you are admittedly ignorant as if you are a wise old owl talking to children. In other words, perhaps you should consider listening to "bollocks" before talking it
    – Some_Guy
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 20:19
  • @Stinkfoot Stand by what, you're simultaneously claiming ignorance and knowledge. Just listen to the recording, the parts are easily within the realm of players' ability, and there aren't a crazy amount of overdubs, why would you get studio musicians to play an album that it's obvious the existing musicians were able to play? (and did play live). And as for whether it's quasi-musical noise, well that's like your opinion man but imo it's more interesting than a lot of "professional" music from the same period, and holds up to the test of time pretty well (unlike a lot of prog and fusion)
    – Some_Guy
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 22:02

Don't construct excuses. With the possible exception of some atheletic pursuits, where over-development of one set of muscles might hinder other requirements - a body-builder is probably not suited to the pole-vault for instance - getting good at one thing is very unlikely to prevent you from getting good at another. Of course, if you're aiming for virtuoso level with 8 hours of daily practice on piano or violin, you might run into a scheduling problem.

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