Why You Should Learn An Instrument (While Taking Voice Lessons)

For me, being a more valuable musician means always being open to new songs/instruments/genres/artists and sharing the things that I learn from that experience with my students.

The way that I share that experience most often is in the form of voice lessons.

But why is it that most students feel they have to choose an instrument and practice only that one?

I think a lot of students feel that in order to get good at one instrument, you must focus on that one and forsake all others.

But the principles of music apply to all instruments, so is it crazy to think that you could learn more about your voice by playing the drums, picking up your old flute, or trying the harmonica?

While some may think learning another instrument would detract from your vocal education, I think that learning another instrument speeds up the learning you do when you sit down to practice.

Back in the “olden days”, it wasn’t enough to be an amazing singer.

In actuality, it was more important that you be an amazing instrumentalist. Singing just happened to be something that you did also.

Nina Simone was a phenomenal classical pianist.

Jimi Hendrix was Little Richard’s touring guitarist.

Jeff Buckley was a session guitarist before he wrote his first album.

The list goes on.

The thing that made those musicians stand out was not just their voice, but how their voice interacted with the music they made.

Think this doesn’t apply to your voice lessons?

In my case, it happened backwards.

I learned about an instrument from teaching voice!

I’ve been telling students for years to trust the feeling of vocal balance, rather than “muscling up” or “powering through”.

Basically, that in order to build power, you must first work with properly closed vocal folds.

Only recently, while practicing snare technique on my drum set, did I realize that this same principal applies to snare rolls.

Many rock drummers hammer away at their set to get more speed.

They think power = speed.

Then, I took my own advice and used a more traditional grip and kept my hands from getting sloppy with power.

This allowed me to focus on doing the rolls with ease rather than force.

The results were amazing.

My rolls got quicker and the sound was cleaner.

Most surprising was that the power grew as the technique improved.

The same rules apply to your voice.

What lessons could you be learning from picking up other instruments?

Drumming and Singing

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