learning many instruments

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henrikhank
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learning many instruments

Post by henrikhank » Mon Apr 16, 2018 3:44 pm

Howdy!
one often hears how learning different instrument is good. They Kinda complement each other. My question thus is: how do you think learning vocals, piano and piano accordion complement each other?
what has been the downside or upside of learning more than one instruments for you in your musical journey?
Do you practice them seperately or together eg learning a tune and going through it on both piano and accordion at the same time? What has worked for you?
Some people who can play many instruments try to learn a genre they like, eg folk dancibg of their country, and playing it in the instruments rather than focusing on learning a particular instrument. Is this good?

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Re: learning many instruments

Post by Geronimo » Mon Apr 16, 2018 3:57 pm

henrikhank wrote:
Mon Apr 16, 2018 3:44 pm
Howdy!
one often hears how learning different instrument is good. They Kinda complement each other. My question thus is: how do you think learning vocals, piano and piano accordion complement each other?
I think combining piano and piano accordion is a really, really bad idea. For one, the sound energy comes from striking fingers, for the other from your left arm. One is percussive, the other continuous-tone so its key release times (and manners) are crucial for articulation. One is horizontal, the other vertical. One has larger keys than the other.

As a result, best practices for fingering, approach, expression, articulation are different and the layout seduces you to think otherwise.

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Re: learning many instruments

Post by debra » Mon Apr 16, 2018 4:48 pm

Geronimo wrote:
Mon Apr 16, 2018 3:57 pm
...
I think combining piano and piano accordion is a really, really bad idea. ...
Well... I have been playing the piano since the age of 7 and started with PA at the age of 12... and I became reasonably good at both. I occasionally still suffer from pressing keys too hard or not hard enough on the accordion, and switching from PA to CBA did not cure that. But I would not say it was a "really, really bad idea". I think that the pressing harder to play louder piano characteristic has influence on playing many other instruments. Yet, here I believe it is standard practice at the conservatory that everyone who plays any instrument other than piano must take piano as a second instrument, and so far I don't know of anyone who refused based on the argument that combining piano with their main instrument would detrimentally affect their playing on the main instrument.

I have experienced recently that by essentially only playing CBA for the past 10 years my piano skills have gone down much more than when I was playing PA. So at least for me the combination of PA and piano had more advantages than disadvantages.
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Re: learning many instruments

Post by Geronimo » Mon Apr 16, 2018 5:16 pm

debra wrote:
Mon Apr 16, 2018 4:48 pm
I have experienced recently that by essentially only playing CBA for the past 10 years my piano skills have gone down much more than when I was playing PA. So at least for me the combination of PA and piano had more advantages than disadvantages.
Maybe if your piano fingerings hadn't been distorted PA fingerings, they'd have survived better on their own.

Joking aside, when not playing an instrument for a long time, the losses increase. After 10 years you are surprised that stuff actually is still there to a good degree. After 20, it could be worse. After 30, it's frustrating.

It's like a mother tongue: you can keep it dormant for a long long time. But at some point, others can tell.

So at any rate, I reserve the right to keep my opinion. It's not like I let go of those easily anyway. And I am too old to take up the piano, so it's not like I have to fear personal consequences from being wrong.

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Re: learning many instruments

Post by maugein96 » Mon Apr 16, 2018 5:20 pm

Hi, henrikhank,

In my experience very few people are able to master more than one instrument, and most of us cannot master any.

People who play several instruments, even if they play them well, will usually be better on one particular instrument, most likely the one they started out on.

The music industry is full of competent professional musicians who can "double up" on other instruments to a satisfactory standard for recording purposes etc, so there is no reason why you shouldn't be able to experiment with your proposal. You won't know if you don't try.

A lot of PA players also play/played piano, and I'm sure there are many forum members who fall into that category.

Good luck with your venture.
Last edited by maugein96 on Mon Apr 16, 2018 5:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: learning many instruments

Post by Geronimo » Mon Apr 16, 2018 5:28 pm

debra wrote:
Mon Apr 16, 2018 4:48 pm
I occasionally still suffer from pressing keys too hard or not hard enough on the accordion [...]
It's not how hard you press but how deep (within some limits). That's actually what I consider a design problem on the Roland V accordion series: they have velocity sensitive keys and buttons, not depth sensitive. That makes modelling the fine points of finger articulation miss out on the necessary data. Again, thinking too much like a piano.

Different instruments differ here, I'll admit: I have a few accordions where I feel that the amount of button travel making a difference is quite smaller than on my main instrument, so finger articulation is harder to do well on those.

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Re: learning many instruments

Post by debra » Mon Apr 16, 2018 5:44 pm

Geronimo wrote:
Mon Apr 16, 2018 5:28 pm
...
It's not how hard you press but how deep (within some limits). That's actually what I consider a design problem on the Roland V accordion series: they have velocity sensitive keys and buttons, not depth sensitive. That makes modelling the fine points of finger articulation miss out on the necessary data. Again, thinking too much like a piano.
...
That is also a bit of a problem on digital piano's versus acoustic ones: on a real piano you can start pressing a key and then change the speed and pressure as you go along and the volume will not be the same as what you get on a digital piano which measures speed from start to completion of a key press. And if you do it slowly and softly you will get no sound on a real piano but on all digital piano's I have tried (and that goes up to the most expensive ones) you always get sound. But actually I have not found these subtle differences to be a problem and I would be surprised if many people have a real problem in dealing with the way a V accordion measures a key press to what a real accordion does.
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Re: learning many instruments

Post by Geronimo » Mon Apr 16, 2018 6:04 pm

debra wrote:
Mon Apr 16, 2018 5:44 pm
But actually I have not found these subtle differences to be a problem and I would be surprised if many people have a real problem in dealing with the way a V accordion measures a key press to what a real accordion does.
Frankly, the fine points of the bellows are lost on a non-trivial number of accordion players already. I think one reason that typical well-beloved accordion music is fast may be that it doesn't matter a whole lot just how you are sculpting your notes then. On a violin, you can practice playing the same note for half an hour. And what you practice has a relation to why violin is a popular instrument.

The popularity of accordion hinges to a lesser degree on the fine points of tone control. This is different for its "bandonion" relative which has, particularly in the tango genre, made an art form of its ability to sculpt tones. That's what you expect from it. This bandonion rendition of a primordial tango, in contrast, is too "accordionesque" for many people's tastes, relying too much on, well, producing the right notes at the right time. And in larger groups, individual tone quality gets lost anyway.

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Re: learning many instruments

Post by Stephen Hawkins » Tue Apr 17, 2018 12:30 am

Hi Hank,

I have a very good friend, a professional musician, who plays a wide range of instruments. In fact, it would probably be easier to list the instruments he doesn't play than those he does.

Having known Jon for some considerable time, and having played a few duets with him, I reject any notion which suggests that playing one particular instrument reduces your ability to play another.

In just one gig, Jon will play accordion, piano, fiddle, guitar and mandolin, all to an extremely high standard. If I had 25% of his musical talent, I would be a very happy man.

I accept that Jon is an exception to the rule, and that most people would be unable to emulate him, but such people do exist.

Kind Regards,

Stephen.

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Re: learning many instruments

Post by Glenn » Tue Apr 17, 2018 6:32 am

I’ve been playing piano since wearing short trousers. Have now played accordion for around 15 years. Piano helped me immensely. This last year I’m trying to teach myself guitar. Have I done something that’s going to torpedo my piano/accordion playing or will the skills I’ve learned about music over the years be transferable? I believe not.
1) Ballone Burini 46C (4+5) cassotto (LMMH) 3/3 PA; 2) Accordiola Piano V (5+5) cassotto (LMMMH) 3/3 PA;
3) Roland FR8X; 4) Hohner Vox 4k (LMMH) 3/3 CBA

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Re: learning many instruments

Post by Morne » Tue Apr 17, 2018 8:03 am

Doesn't this just boil down to "jack of all trades, master of none"? Now, I wouldn't state it as harshly as that. You can definitely become good at multiple instruments, given enough time, but ultimately, time spent on one instrument is time lost on another. If your goal is to achieve ultimate mastery of one, then any other instrument would be an interference. Which is not to say that almost-but-not-quite-ultimate mastery isn't good enough for most people.

The original question focuses on the advantages to the player. So I want to ask a related question. Would knowing the basics of a different instrument allow the player of the one instrument to feel "empathy" towards the player of the other instrument when playing together in an informal setting? For example, knowing some guitar or piano, has that improved your ability to play accordion with somebody who plays one of those?

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Re: learning many instruments

Post by maugein96 » Tue Apr 17, 2018 9:44 am

Hi Morne,

You seem to share the same opinions as me on this. I have played several instruments in my lifetime but have settled down to two, guitar and accordion.

I tend to spend a lot of time mothballing either one in the name of trying to make progress with the other.

As a younger man I naturally had aspirations to possibly play both professionally, otherwise there would have been no real point in learning them. Unfortunately I set my standards just a bit too high consistent with my ability, and it is often the case that I pack the accordions away in favour of my guitars. That is the situation at the moment and I haven't played an accordion for some months. When I first started playing accordion the guitars were shelved, and there haven't been many times in my life where I've been able to condition myself to apply equal time to both instruments.

In earlier days I played along with others on occasion, but have never played in any ensemble with guitars and accordions together. Therefore I cannot really answer your question about empathy, but would imagine that knowledge of another instrument would certainly benefit such a situation.

With the benefit of hindsight, I would probably have been able to make a better job out of one instrument if I had ditched the other, but I am one of those fickle types who used to love to try out new instruments. Fortunately that phenomenon has passed and I've now finally come to terms with being a second or third rater on both. I started off on guitar in my early teens whereas I was in my 30s before I got the notion for accordion. Consequently I am more natural on the former instrument, and lack of exposure to the type of accordion music I play definitely played a part with my relative lack of proficiency.

Really good all round musicians are very few and far between, although it is amazing just what some people can do. The French accordionist, Jo Sony, plays no fewer than 47 instruments, and I believe he has made recordings with them all. The fact that he played so many instruments definitely had the effect of making him one of France's lesser known accordionists.

When the accordion was in its heyday in France many players of other instruments "converted" in the name of earning more money.

One such musician, Charles Verstraete, was a pro trombonist turned accordionist. As far as I am aware Verstraete was as famous for being a trombonist as well as an accordionist, but that seemed to be the exception rather than the rule.

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Re: learning many instruments

Post by henrikhank » Tue Apr 17, 2018 6:06 pm

Sometimes I think that you get different way of lookibg at the music when playing it on different instruments.
What I like about takubg accordion lesson is that it helps with learning dance music.
My accordion teacher really knows a lot about traditional folk music. This helps with playing piano. A piano teacher might not know how to play a hambo.
What do you think?

Also you cannot learn too many types of musical genres, right? Folk musicians often play many instruments but really know the musical genres well. Don't you agree?

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Re: learning many instruments

Post by jozz » Tue Apr 17, 2018 7:32 pm

Agreed. But always there is a middle of the road type deal.

Taking on MANY instruments at once (I know some people who literally have 35 instruments) and pulling it off in a decent show, means you have some real talent and this question doesn't really matter to them, they make it work regardless.

For others, that have to choose between some instruments to make it work, I'd say piano and PA go well together.

In general, getting into new instruments, meeting people because of it, teachers, musicians opens up all kinds of possibilities, side-projects, learning paths...etc.

So, why not?

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Re: learning many instruments

Post by henrikhank » Tue Apr 17, 2018 10:26 pm

jozz wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 7:32 pm
Agreed. But always there is a middle of the road type deal.

Taking on MANY instruments at once (I know some people who literally have 35 instruments) and pulling it off in a decent show, means you have some real talent and this question doesn't really matter to them, they make it work regardless.

For others, that have to choose between some instruments to make it work, I'd say piano and PA go well together.

In general, getting into new instruments, meeting people because of it, teachers, musicians opens up all kinds of possibilities, side-projects, learning paths...etc.

So, why not?
Kind of what I'm saying as well!

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Re: learning many instruments

Post by Geronimo » Tue Apr 17, 2018 10:50 pm

henrikhank wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 10:26 pm
jozz wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 7:32 pm
In general, getting into new instruments, meeting people because of it, teachers, musicians opens up all kinds of possibilities, side-projects, learning paths...etc.

So, why not?
Kind of what I'm saying as well!
Because people don't want it. We have this multi-instrumental jazz musician in Germany called Helge Schneider. His career took off when he pretended to be really really bad at everything. People can identify with that.

Must have been frustrating at times.

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Re: learning many instruments

Post by Stephen Hawkins » Wed Apr 18, 2018 12:39 am

Geronimo,

When you say: "Because people don't want it", what exactly do you mean? Are you talking about professional entertainers assessing potential audience reaction and trends, or amateur musicians who play for their own enjoyment?

It would be as well to make that distinction now, so that everyone can clearly differentiate between the aspirations of two entirely different groups of people.

Jon, to whom I have referred before, plays at least three or four instruments during his stage performances, and he plays them to an extremely high standard.

I play in Folk Clubs & for pensioners groups, and enjoy every minute of it. Being a realist, I am acutely aware of my musical short comings, but that has absolutely no bearing on the pleasure I derive from my musical activities.

Kind Regards,

Stephen.

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Re: learning many instruments

Post by donn » Wed Apr 18, 2018 1:12 am

Glenn wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 6:32 am
This last year I’m trying to teach myself guitar. Have I done something that’s going to torpedo my piano/accordion playing or will the skills I’ve learned about music over the years be transferable? I believe not.
Indeed, I too believe not. I mean, 1) at least some of the skills won't be transferable, and 2) it isn't going to torpedo anything.

Of course, "teach myself guitar" is as ambiguous as it could be. I "play guitar" - i.e., know how to form chords for harmony accompaniment to a tune, on an old nylon string guitar. That guitar is set up for flamenco, and I did take a brief stab at playing in that style, 40 years ago. Anyway, guitar presents an interesting range of possibilities, could be the widest range of common more or less legitimate skill levels of any musical instrument. I can't see how anyone wouldn't benefit from taking it up.

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Re: learning many instruments

Post by Geronimo » Wed Apr 18, 2018 8:35 am

Stephen Hawkins wrote:
Wed Apr 18, 2018 12:39 am
Geronimo,

When you say: "Because people don't want it", what exactly do you mean? Are you talking about professional entertainers assessing potential audience reaction and trends, or amateur musicians who play for their own enjoyment?
Professional front line concert musicians. Playing dozens of significantly different instruments is not iconic for audiences but a distraction. That's seen as more of a Vaudeville act than a concert. They want something dependable to admire.

That's why a multifacetted musician and producer like Frank Farian put together front line acts like "Boney M." and "Milli Vanilli". Nobody was interested in him putting everything together himself. After the "Milli Vanilli" scandal had subsided, he actually tested it by touring as "the true Milli Vanilli" by himself with backup of a few studio musicians. Very little interest in the real deal and he canned the experiment pretty soon.
It would be as well to make that distinction now, so that everyone can clearly differentiate between the aspirations of two entirely different groups of people.
Anybody getting his career advice from Internet forum discussions deserves what he is getting.

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Re: learning many instruments

Post by george garside » Wed Apr 18, 2018 9:46 am

The simple answer is '' some can and most can't!''

But hedging my bets I think to properly answer the question we need to define what we mean by ''can play''.
This can range on the one hand from the professional orchestral standard musician who is expected to be able to play spot on as regards to note and intonation etc on whatever instrument(s) he/she offers to play ''professionally''

On the other hand the play for enjoyment or with a few friends musician may be able( or not) to play one instrument well and also enjoy 'nocking a tune out of something else' to a standard that is acceptable to the player and others. This can often happen in a folk session or somebodies front room and unless really crap is generally acceptable as ''having a go''

which brings us back to the need to define ''can play''

george :evil: :? ;)

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