Why Bother With Other Instruments?

Jack of all trades and master of none?

If skills take time and energy to develop (and they certainly do), why waste precious hours on something other than your favorite? Or at least… on things you don’t really plan on putting all that much effort into?

My drumming to do list is a staggering, sometimes daunting reality that’s never too far from my mind. I know I have an all but endless amount of things to practice and learn, that things can always be cleaner, faster, funkier… It truly never ends. I hear people who can play circles around me say the same thing, so I know it’s not just me.

The more you learn, the more you realize you don’t know.

So, if I could spend every available hour tapping away at rudiments or learning claves or counting different subdivisions or feathering ghost notes or cranking on kick doubles…

Why the hell would I plink away at guitar chords and fumble my way through keyboard scales (I’m a TRUE beginner at both… yikes), why would I even bother with samples or allow myself to get frustrated by drum machines?

It’s fun, sure.

But there’s more to it – some context gained that is tied to being a drummer. These other music making bits, even just dabbling with them, gives a glimpse at what the other people you play with are up to, and a look at the rhythmic roles they play.

It’s just a good way to see how the whole shebang fits together.

Like the endless drumming list, each and every instrument has it’s own depth. There are plenty of people out there with a knack for (and have spent the time to learn to) play multiple instruments…

I am not one of them.

Still though, like the giant kit-list we’re all chipping away at, even scratching at the surface is incredible. You get to see how deep the rabbit hole is, and it’s reminiscent of getting started as a drummer, but you start with this weird perspective…

I’ve only ever played the drums, and it means that – from the start at least – I can’t help but think about these instruments like a drummer. Strumming cowboy chords on a guitar has a cool vein of limb independence to it… Twiddling a synthesizer gives me a whole new perspective on the importance of whole notes… Sequencing hip hop beats makes me seriously appreciate the role of simplicity and repetition in a drum set groove.

I haven’t really messed with a bass guitar much, I don’t know much more than getting the most basic sounds out of a horn… Yeesh, there are about a zillion percussion instruments I’ve never even laid a finger on.

But every time I learn a little something, a few things happen:

– I look at drums from the outside in

– I miss the kit a little bit

I get a broader perspective on the reason we even go to all this trouble in the first place: making music


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