Playing an instrument requires practice, dedication and determination, but playing multiple instruments is a completely different matter. Being a multi-instrumentalist myself, who plays piano, ukulele, and guitar, it involves more levels of engagement and skill than someone who only plays one instrument.
Senior, Jacob Reed, plays three instruments: the french horn, trumpet, and mellophone. And, Alejandra Zavala, also a senior, plays four: clarinet, tenor saxophone, piano, and the guitar. She has recently started picking up the ukulele as well.
However, these two students didn’t start off by playing so many instruments. It took a few years for each one to really engage and dedicate themselves to where they are, musically, today.
For Reed, he first started off playing the trumpet with the Mannheim Middle School Jazz Band in the 4th grade, and by 6th grade wanted to learn the french horn. He mentions how he, “wanted to play the french horn because my brother played the french horn. He was kinda like my role model.” Fast forward to high school where he started to play the mellophone when he joined the marching band. And for those who don’t know, the mellophone is a mixture between the french horn and trumpet. Besides this, he is also plays with the Elmhurst College Band. With this is mind, one can truly see that music can lead you to bigger and better things and has endless opportunities.
Zavala’s first instrument was the piano, which she started playing in 3rd grade. She explained, “At first, I was actually really interested, but I didn’t know how to do anything, and my mom’s friend played the piano, so she taught me the basic notes, like where they are on the keyboard and after that I taught myself.” And in addition to this, in 5th grade, she learned the clarinet, and guitar in 6th, and last, but not least, the tenor saxophone her sophomore year of high school. As a matter of fact, she has served as one of the drum majors for the Leyden High School Marching Band for the past two years!
But it doesn’t stop there for these two incredibly talented students. They plan to learn more instruments in the near future. Reed says how he would like to learn the piano and cello, and also mentions how he would like to sing while playing the piano. With all the knowledge and motivation he has now, there is absolutely no doubt that he can achieve those goals. And as for Zavala, she says how she would like to learn to play not one, not two, but three new instruments: the cello, oboe, and trumpet. She mentioned, “I’ve always wanted to play a string instrument, orchestral string instrument, and the cello just has such a pretty sound.”
Regarding this topic, one question that was asked during the interview was “Do you think that the ability to play multiple instruments is a different talent than being good at a single instrument?”
Reed answered, “ I do think so because playing more than one instrument allows you to become a better student at music. You are, overall, building the muscles needed to become better and so you’re making them stronger and you’re able to play for longer periods of time and be able to have that muscle memory.” He also added, “Music makes you smarter. You practice more, you get smarter.”
Likewise, Zavala responded how it is a different talent because, “you understand the fundamentals of each instrument. So if you’re in an ensemble, you understand how that instrument works and how it’s supposed to sound, and it’s weaknesses and strengths, so it can help the overall ensemble get better if you just know more.”
Given these points, if you are someone who is maybe looking for something new to try, give music a chance! “Don’t be afraid to try something new. At first it can be really tough because you may not have any knowledge about it, but it all takes practice and dedication to achieve where you want to be,” encouraged Zavala.