If you could play any other instrument, what would it be and why?

As we immerse ourselves in the vast sea of melodies, harmonies, and intricate finger techniques that our beloved six strings offer, it's hard not to wonder about the other instruments that populate the rich landscape of classical music. Each instrument carries its own unique voice and expressive possibilities, much like a new language waiting to be spoken.

This week, we invite you to ponder a question that might reveal more about your musical curiosity and aspirations:

"If you could play any other instrument, what would it be and why?"

Perhaps you are enchanted by the deep, sonorous voice of the cello or intrigued by the bright sparkle of the harpsichord. Maybe the fluidity of the violin speaks to you, or the grandeur of the piano stirs something within your soul. Whatever it is, share with us:

  • The instrument you dream of playing.
  • Your reasons – Is it the sound, the history, the repertoire, or something else?
  • How you think it could influence or enhance your guitar playing.

Feel free to share stories, fantasies, or even your experiences if you already dabble with other instruments. Let's inspire each other and maybe discover some hidden desires to expand our musical horizons.

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  • Piano for me, the sound, the repertoire (especially Bach and Mozart) and the visualisation of notes and their relationships 

    Like 1
    • ors
    • ors
    • 7 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    Cello for me: I just love its haunting sound. And I could play it like this (I mean, I'ld wish I could play the cello like this): 

    Like 2
    • ors I've tried learning cello as a second instrument, and man, it was hard. Left hand was ok, but learning to bow is like learning an entire new instrument. I also missed the harmony, I didn't enjoy playing cello on my own. But I just tried playing cello like he does in the video and it's actually quite fun (and much more in my comfort zone, haha, don't know why I never tried that before).

      Like 1
      • ors
      • ors
      • 7 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Lannie Ligthart Interesting: I didn't think learning to bow would be that difficult -- I mean, after all, even Jimmy Page managed to do it (ha, ha, ha)! I guess the switch from from fretted to unfretted is also difficult: it would drive me crazy to be always a bit (a lot?) flat or sharp (I don't have a "sharp" ear). It would be like playing a CG with major intonation issues all over the fretboard. Oh well, back to being a one-trick pony (and that is being very generous to myself given my level).

      Like 2
    • ors haha yeah, the hard thing about bowing is to make it sound pleasing to the ear... My bowing mostly just sounds like scratching squeaking horror, and even just holding the bow I still find super difficult. The intonation is also a challenge but I found it is actually really good to train your hearing! I got much better at tuning by guitar by ear once I started learning cello.

      Like 1
      • ors
      • ors
      • 7 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Lannie Ligthart My wife complains about my "loud" CG playing. So, maybe I should rent a cello for a month or two and "work" on my bowing to put things into perspective! Joking aside, I can see how your ear might have developed concerning tuning. I have to work on that: I rely too much on digital tuning, which is the "lazy" way to go about it.

      Like
  • after 50 years of playing classical guitar, I added orchestral percussion -- mainly timpani and other mallet instruments -- at the age of 48.  I still play timpani in local orchestras.  WHY? because I missed out on the social/musical experience of large ensemble participation, not to mention the notion of being able to play great classical music for orchestra. 

     

    At the age of 65, I added the trombone, because we had one in the house waiting to be played, and I spend many hours a week as a volunteer teacher in the local concert band programs in the public schools.   Trombone is so much fun!!!!!   My next band instrument will be alto saxophone.        

     

    ALSO, I was happy to be standing up for a change. 

    Like 3
      • ors
      • ors
      • 7 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Dave McLellan Wow! ... those are completely different instruments. Even if you have the conservatory training and are a pro instrumentalist, it can't be that obvious to make these moves to instruments that are so far apart. Some people are just gifted. Chapeau, sir! 

      Like 1
    • ors thank you very much!   It's really impossible to express how meaningful these other disciplines have been to becoming a better musician and guitarist.  I'm so grateful for having had the opportunities to do these other things.   

      Like 1
    • Alan Rinehart
    • Performer and Instructor
    • Alan_Rinehart
    • 7 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    Piano for the repertoire and versatility and I think any bowed string for sharpening the ear and the ensemble possibilities.

    Like 1
  • When I started my musical journey I was a percussionist (xylophone, drums/drum set, timpani) which ended up being an interesting way to visualize scales and music keys (xylophone). Then because (even though people my disagree) you can't really play percussion as an individual for yourself for enjoyment, I picked up guitar (more campfire cords and strumming). I always wanted to play the violin, so I started learning that something like 10 years later (again, can be played solo or with friends). This brought me to consider like a lot of people trying piano, liking the repertoire. Problem was that I ended up equating playing piano to typing, completely ruined the experience for me. It winds up that classical guitar is the instrument (variation?) I picked up this year. Very challenging. But if I was to try a different instrument, maybe cello? Or saxophone (I mean Bill Clinton played one haha)?

    Like 1
  • Lute. I have two but never seem to have the time to play them.

    Like 3
      • David Krupka
      • Amateur guitarist/lutenist
      • David_Krupka
      • 7 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Matthew Mole Several of here also play lute, Matthew. It's a very natural 'second' instrument for guitarists. What kind of lute(s) do you have?

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    • Matthew Mole I would love to play Lute as well! But probably I would entertain more an Oud

      Like
    • Shi
    • Shi.1
    • 7 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    I also play a little bit trumpet since I played it in the marching band in my college years ago. 
    It’s great with helping the sight reading since the sheet music is always one note each time, but the rhythm can be challenging from time to time. 
    it is also a good way to work out my lung capacity so I can live longer and thus play more guitar! ✌️

    i was blown away when I saw a video that a trumpet player (Alison bolsom?) playing Paganini caprice #24 on trumpet. 

    Like 2
  • Piano for me. I started learning piano about 6 months ago. Very low process but helpful to understand music theory.

    Like 1
    • Calin Lupa
    • Calin_Lupa
    • 7 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    Piano will be,  it would definitely improve my musical abilities.

    Like 1
    • Daniel
    • Daniel.24
    • 7 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    Hi all,

     

    I just ordered a viola on eBay. 
    The reason is because it is closest to both cello and violin. Viola plays its repertoire between high and low notes on the c-clef which is between the g-clef and f-clef. Playing the viola as my second instrument will improve my understanding of how music plays in different spectrums but will improve myself as a guitarist by training the ear principally.

     

    Greets,

    Daniel.

    Like 2
    • Duje
    • Duje
    • 7 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    I am a guitarist but I also play a double bass with a bow. I would say the knowledge of guitar fretboard has helped me a lot to understand the system of positions on a double bass. Apart from that the bowing technique is very difficult to master. Playing two instruments has helped me a lot to better understand the mutual relationship between melody harmony and bass lines, especially in baroque and jazz music style. 

    Like 2
  • In addition to guitar (in most of its versions), I have played cello, alto saxophone, baritone saxophone, sousaphone, bass clarinet, 5-string banjo, mandolin and ukulele (the last two poorly - the first in elementary school).  I would like to be better at all the above except possibly sousaphone which I did not care for all that much.  As far as something entirely new - violin.  The range of genres ranges from fiddle to classical.  It is portable and fits well with my current repertoire.  I think it would be fun to plug one in and play through pedals.  Piano and keyboard would be first as the repertoire is even broader and includes classic rock.  However portability is an issue

    Like 4
    • Ralph Cordell Would not mind having a bari sax. My favorite non-stringed instrument and I loved to make that sucker growl.  

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    • Ralph Cordell Portability: what about a guitalele? 😉

      Like
    • don
    • don.2
    • 7 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    I have always been drawn to piano, cello, and the chinese traditional instrument called Gu Zhen.  I bought a 61 keyboard to learn music theory last year but unfortunately i didn't make much progress with it as music theory on your own can be really dry and boring. 

     

    I've been checking with some piano teacher, I can probably make do with learning classical piano with 61 keys for beginner stage. So i get to learn musical theory and another instrument at the same time. 

    Like 3
  • I'd love to play Viola. I find Bach's Brandenburg Concert no 6 - Allegro ma non molto a beautiful dialogue between Violas.

    I ended up buying a Viola to start learning but never really had classes. I still wish to learn and be able to play at least that movement from the Brandenburg Concert no 6.

    Like 2
  • Now: cello. I am really thankfull fore the posibility to take it as "second instrument" here in the Tonebase! Without that possibility I still would throw that wish to not-ever-happening future.... Have played it now this autumn, and even got a live teacher to help me with the real difficult an "odd & new" bowing technique... 

     

    But before I tell more of the matter "why", I have to say in general: 

    - I believe, and have always told my students, too, that for becoming better musician/understand music more broadly,  you should have two types of an instrument: one melody-instrument and one harmony-instrument. Singing + piano, klarinette+ kantele, violine+ accordeon etc. Even wiser if you have a percussion instrument as the third. You learn to play MUSIC, when you look it on different sight of views. (Luckily you can play both melody and harmony and rhythm with the guitar at the same time, but is somehow easier to understand what the demands of different aspects are, if you can focus MAINLY on either on melody or harmony - and learn to mix them: hear and work on those all 2 (or 3) elements then when you play you main instrument. The technical aspects stop being the only or main thing in your plying.  It is ok to play fast, but making music is not a competition of sprinters!  

    - Every instruments have different kind of sound/tone - I´d say: soul or identity. As a music therapist I have thought  that I need to be able to produce many different sounds, for many different patients... and also for feeding my own many sides of my personality? (But: what ewer you play, you should honestly try to play on the best quality (soundwise) then... 

    - The main repertuaire for different instruments are different. When playing different instruments it is more natural to play in different styles, when the sound quality is already formed for those. (And easier to try to imitate those demands then on your main instrument, too: let´s fall the borders down!) 

    - Ant there comes the problem: It is impossible to really practice many instruments well: there come the limits of time and energy.  Also: how good instruments you can afford to buy and own? One real good one that you play everything with (with every instrument you can "tell everything" - not with the authentic voice, but the authentic content, anyway?) - or how much frustration you can carry on your shoulders, when been forced to play with the not-so-good instruments, and not proceed as well as you could if you concentrated on only one?  You have only 2 hands and one brain - you can not practice 10 instruments at the same time. 

     

    But, I myself am more like "multi-musician", or "track and field-athlete", not REALLY good specialist on anything.  Too lazy to really make my playing a diamante? Or maybe I need many sounds/voices. Today is mainly the day for string-instruments, tomorrow mainly on blowing instruments, and so on... And: as a musiciaian I am most the type of a chamber musician: It does not matter me so much, which kind of a group I can play with - I am willing to take different roles, as far as the music COMMUNICATES - the musicians communicate, and the instruments communicate, too.  

     

    Why which instrument to me?:

    My main ones (Which I play or have been playing professionally of half-professionally or "seriously"/ in a goal-oriented way:

    - All my youth and adult life I have been playing the recorders and the classical guitar almost side by side. The other/s have been the main, and the other/s the second instrument, but the order had changed time to time. Blowing instruments & string instrument - combination?  Both of them are understandable, because both hands work together in making one sound or chord. 

    *Guitar (classical) : I like the main sound and the vibration of it in my fame/on my lap. The one that I can rely on in every situations, in playing solo and in playing in making chamber music.  Enough large ambitus, and I can also accompany my recorder students (and other instrumentalists/singers) with it.  Quite ok instrument for many styles, too. 

    *Recorders:  A family and consort instrument: that means: there are many sizes- the tiny ones and really great ones. And different types for different music (renaissance or baroque or modern - and all those styles I like)  THE blowing instrument that is nearest to human voice (so I think!) - you can hear the overtones, make glissandos, play with different attacs and tongues, and micro-intervals -  it is so intimate and still it can make even the the big church resonate without any electrical help (church organ imitates the recorder consort...).  But: "No-one is as lonely as a recorder player alone" - I NEED someone to play with if I want to keep my process going on with them.

    * Ukuleles and guitaleles:  These come in to my life as a continuum of a guitar - and nowadays I spend most of my practicing time with them.  I have a fear, that I get arthritis to my hands, and the "normal big guitar" sooner or later comes too hard for me: I am not so big person, so these "sit well" on my lap - and there in their sound IS something new and comforting/healing to me. And: they are more "in" than the two mentioned upper - so I have got students easier for those than for class. guitar and recorder, too. They also sound good if played with guitars or recorders. So: I have taken them to my "basic family of instrumental friends" nowadays. 

    Common to all of these 3 groups: Sound is not big - but has many nuances. Articulation is important - and has variations: keeps my ears open and my interest on. 

     

    My "second ones" (where I have had constant lessons with a teacher):

    * Singing:  It is the mother of all music making - the instruments only imitate singing, better or worse.  And - it is also a social matter: singing in a choir or a smaller group is a pleasure. Breathing together! Even if my own voice is not so soloist or artistic, I like to tell stories - and on songs there are the lyrics, too. SO: singing is a continuum of theater or poem-reading for me. And: the physical aspect - what happens in me, the flow or barriers in my own body, by the vibration - how it resonates or "dances" in my own body,  and how it makes the room to resonate - that I like to listen to (I especially like the technique called harmony singing/healing singing).  

    * Piano: Well, it is a "must". I HAD to play it when studying music. I even have been teaching it (for beginners).  BUT:  Keyboards really NOT are my beloved ones. My brain does not like the idea of the the hands having different roles - and I do not even like the sound of "played by a hammer". Worst thing is, that I can not at all influence the pitch. Piano NEVER is tuned right - it is only a compromise, and because of that it "makes me feel dizzy" (on the days when I hear better, my old music and harmony singing ears just can not stand it!).  But, good instrument it is, really logical for teaching theory stuff and so on, so: belongs to every  "common cultured" musician to know. 

     

    My "third ones":

    * Tuba: There is a need for low vibrations in me - and when my main blowing instrument (recorder) is so oversensitive, with the tuba I have had a possibility to blow hard!  And to join in a (university) band - the social aspect was important, too.  I also like the sound of brasses in general, I even was married with a trombone player... fall in love mainly because of the low vibrations? (I am not playing tuba any more, but, like to listen to low brasses)

    * Bassguitar/ ukulelebass:  Those low vibrations - here, too. Technically, not so big leap after the  (classical) guitar and tuba: I can read the bass clef, and the technique is not so far from guitar.  It also serves my need of understanding the bass lines and jazz (that is a style I did not understand at all when I was young - but now on my mature age have I found me wanting to understand and be able to play that too). My bass is a hybrid - fretless mictrobass, so it is not so huge as the normal guitar bass is, and still, when having ukulelebass-type "rubber strings" has an intersting sound a bit like double bass has.  Even it is more difficult, the frettless I wanted to start to play, because technically it finally is possible to play it in tune (Challenge to my ear!)

    *Percussion: "Hand drums" (Shaman drums, Djembe, Cajon and Congas) , a little bit also the others, like spoons for example or mallet instruments (xylophone).  The drum set is too noisy for me, and also there is the same problem: too many parts of me playing too many different layers. I rather try to imitate the same things only with my hands.  How the membrane "speaks", all the different nuances of the sound. Those are my interests! How do they communicate with each others, how I feel them in my own body when I play the drums?  In playing percussion there is also the interesting aspect: how they form a continuum of a whole body movement or dance. And: My groove has not ever been so brilliant, when I am so much a melody player.  There is a possibility to make that part of my musicality better.

     

    Would like to play or only have had some experience:

    * Something like keyboards, but luckily not:  Mallet instruments - especially xylophone. Like the sound ow wooden instruments in all their forms!   Also harpsichord had I in my teaching room for some years, so I become to love the sound of it. Even there is the my so much feared keyboard, it is not a keyboard instrument for me: it is a picking instrument like guitar and ukulele are! The attack is made by little nails ;)  And an absolute bonus: It was possible for me to tune it myself, and make some interesting experiences by intervals and vibrations.  Would so much like to have one by my own at home!

    * Hand bells: Interesting about half year had I with those, too (I joined as a substitute player in an orchestra for one musicians pregnancy time for a couple of concerts) - opened me a new world of "playing together": when you are responsible for 2-6 bells and still the melody has to flow from player to other and the chords have their attacks exactly at the same time, it was quite demanding, but so fun!

    * I have now for wind instruments the sound of recorder (wooden flute) and brass (tuba) but no reed ones: so I bought me a chromatic harmonica, and have started to play it by the help of tutorials.  Just for fun ;)  

    * As a continuum of the frettless bass would I like to try a skiffle bass with one string - after one trial I noticed it is even twice as hard to find the right pitches with it! But, we have formed a skiffle group, and I might be the main one to be "pushed" to that role.  Bass lines I somehow understand, and the same challenges are with the saw. The bass sounds much better in my ear, and playing it even " looks cool" in my mind.  So: maybe? 

     

    AND the newest one, and which I seem to feel quite seriously taken to me:

    * The cello:  The sound! I have all my life admired it, but had no possibility to start to play it in my early ages.  And on my adulthood I had always "too much" else to do, too many instruments to play and teach and so on.  And no money either - or so I thought. But: If I say to my ukulele students, that "age is no problem - If you are motivated, just start to play it", I should be ready to say that to myself, too. So, when it become possibility to have the cello "department", and I could get 3/4 cello from a music school boy who didn´t want to play it any more, and changed to guitar, and even now I got a live teacher, why not to start playing in my mature (but still early?) age of 62 myself??? Cello has many aspects that have been important for me in many other instruments: It is made of wood, it is mainly a melody instrument, it has a good vibrations in my famn/lap, I can feel it the resonate in my own body,  it is mainly on low register, both hands serve for producing the same note or chord, it is possible to be played in tune (no frets!), it can be played in consort with recorders and as an accompaniment with guitars or ukuleles (basso continuo) - and maybe even I find my way into a bigger amateur sinfonietta (to broaden my musical taste and find new, different kind of role and musicians to play with)..... after I have patiently learned more. And: I have not yet have had an instrument from the group of violin family, it is a hard but refreshing new challenge to play with the bow.  New aspect, totally something new technique to learn.  With recorders can I not make large dynamic changes inside one note,  and with guitar/ukulele it even is mainly the attact that matters.  With the bow I could get more to the melody in that sight?  But: let´s see how it goes... 

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