All profit supporting special needs music education and Help Musicians
PPT Mouthpieces

Doubling on a second instrument

Rick Reed

Member
Messages
66
Location
Coventry United Kingdom
Does playing a second instrument such as the guitar or piano help improve you as a saxophonist. I'm thinking about taking up the guitar so I can understand about chord structures and changes.

I don't want to become too serious about it but all the bands I play in talk about chords (as guitarists/keyboard players do!!) and it doesn't mean a thing to me. If I need to learn a new song I do it by ear!

Do people think that doubling on a second instrument is a worthwile venture or am I just waisting valuable time which could be spent practing the sax!!:confused:
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Café Supporter
Messages
21,912
Location
Just north of Munich
A long time ago Pete told me to do the same thing - learn a keyboard - for exactly that reason. So I guess he answer is yes. Welcome by the way!
 

stefank

Member
Messages
366
Location
Hobart, Tasmania
Yes - and if you want to understand the internal structure of chords (rather than just how they fit together) keyboard is probably the more obvious choice. Beginner guitarists tend to think of chords as "blocks", without considering too much how they are made up.
 

Andrew Sanders

Northern Commissioner for Caslm
Messages
2,770
Location
Ilkley West Yorkshire
Hi Rick
Stefan and Kev are absolutely right
I've been playing guitar for over forty five years and have studied jazz harmony/ progressions for twenty five of those years, but it was only when I started playing the piano that chord voicing and progressions really sunk in. Simply the keyboard is a linear thing and you can see the movement of voices within chords and their relationship to each other directly in front of you. Suddenly you see why they call it Cmin7th because it's so blooming logical. Why weren't we taught this at school I ask myself. Or perhaps we were and I just drifted off.
Anyway get yourself a cheap keyboard and a decent basic harmony book and you'll be off like a shot
 

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
Location
Heaven
Do people think that doubling on a second instrument is a worthwile venture or am I just waisting valuable time which could be spent practing the sax!!:confused:

Well, you're talking to someone here who plays many different instruments. I would highly recommend to everyone to learn to play more than one instrument. Seeing things from the eyes of other musicians is extremely helpful, and that's precisely what you're doing when you learn to play more than one instrument. You're becoming more than ONE musician in a sense. Sharing the same mind and body albeit, but playing different instruments!

The sheet music looks different (even if it's the very same print). It just looks different when thinking of different fingering and how the instrument is played. You see different things. I first noticed this when I was learning piano and violin simultaneously.

I think went to viola and cello which even play in different clefs, etc. (of course that's overkill there, but I was trying to get a feel for music theory in general)

When I got a clarinet I learned all about transposing because the Clarinet plays in Bb. Whilst most of the other instruments were basically in C, or concert pitch.

Of all the instruments I play I would say that guitar is my main instrument. It's also one of the most versatile. As you point out, you can play melodies, double-stops, or even full chords on it. And it's a lot easier to carry around then a piano (of course keyboards are quite portable now too though). I would highly recommend playing guitar if that's what calls to you. The fingerboard of the guitar is truly a nice platform to work from for learning all the keys, and scales, etc.

It definitely won't be a waste of time.

In fact, I personally find that when I'm getting stuck on one instrument if I take a break and go play a different instrument for a while, then when I come back to the original instrument it's all fresh and new again and I personally feel that it actually helps to do this.

So I would highly recommend that everyone who is interested in playing music to play at the very least two instruments that are significantly different from each other. (i.e. not just an alto and tenor sax, for example). I mean playing two different sizes of the same instrument can be helpful too, but playing an instrument that is totally different entirely, is even better yet.

So I say go for it. And the guitar is a really good choice if your interested in learning music theory, scales, keys, and chords etc.

If I were raising children I would have them all learn at least two instruments of their choice PLUS a full set of drums! Everyone should learn the drums. They should have drum sets in kindergarten!

Don't mind me, I'm addicted to the drums right now. But seriously, I'm learning a LOT from learning to play the drums. I only wish these things had been taught to me back in my school days. They could have been teaching us how to play great music and instead they wasted our time teaching us history and geography. (blah!) We would have learned that naturally on our own.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Café Supporter
Messages
21,912
Location
Just north of Munich
If I were raising children I would have them all learn at least two instruments of their choice PLUS a full set of drums! Everyone should learn the drums. They should have drum sets in kindergarten!

Don't mind me, I'm addicted to the drums right now. But seriously, I'm learning a LOT from learning to play the drums. I only wish these things had been taught to me back in my school days. They could have been teaching us how to play great music and instead they wasted our time teaching us history and geography. (blah!) We would have learned that naturally on our own.

Maybe - with kids there's a lot of confilct between what parents expect/want and the kids' wishes. Just getting a kid to learn/pracitce one instrument is a major achievment.... And drums.... Noisy. Very noisy.

I've got three kids. Each one picked his/her own instrument. One's on clarinet (who won't play anything else- except drums occasionally), one on cello (and is playing the piano voluntarily as well, but no interest/wish to learn drums) and one on drums with no inclination to do anything else. Apart from the middle one, there's a lot of resistance to anything else AND quite a problem getting good quality practice out of them. My daughter, the cellist is the most disciplined.

And then there's the cost of lessons and instruments.....
 

VirusKiller

Member
Messages
449
Location
Milton Keynes (ish)
The guitar yields quicker results, is fun to play, and is a great instrument to jam with, but I'd agree that I don't think it really helps you with understanding chord structure, at least not unless it's your primary instrument and you are studying it pretty seriously. As pointed out in an earlier post, it is so much easier to visualize chords on the piano as you can see the intervals, whereas on the guitar, the intervals are hidden. For instance, Cm7 is just a bunch of finger positions on the guitar, but on the keyboard, you really see what is going on.

I started learning and gave up the piano twice when I was very young, and though I don't blame myself for doing so, it is my one big musical regret. My advice would be to try both if you have the time.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
Location
Heaven
Maybe - with kids there's a lot of confilct between what parents expect/want and the kids' wishes. Just getting a kid to learn/pracitce one instrument is a major achievment.... And drums.... Noisy. Very noisy.

I understand your concerns Kev, but I'm thinking more philosophically ideally. :)))

In other words, if we lived in a society where music was treated as a language that everyone should learn to speak, and we all saw drum sets as a valuable tool for learning the vocabulary of temporal coordination, then we wouldn't ask the kids what they 'want'. Just like we currently don't ask them whether or not they want history lessons, etc. It would just be part of their schooling (like it or not)

As far as the noise goes, that's not really a problem at all, because to learn they wouldn't need performance level drums, they could use practice pads arranged as a drum set, complete with foot pedal for the bass pad. And of course, with today's technology this could be done with electronics and headphones, so that basically only the drummer can hear what they are doing.

And then there's the cost of lessons and instruments.....

Well, again, in a philosophical dream, since everyone is required to learn them (just like everyone is now required to speak language) the parents themselves could teach them. No need for any special instructors. Everyone you meet would be able to play a drum set. Of course there would still be outstanding drummers who have natural abilities above other people. I'm sure they'd find a way to get around the expense of these practice drum sets. The mere fact that so many would be built would help keep the price down, and they also would not need to be 'performance level' instruments. Just pads that provide bounce and suitable thuds (like practice pads).

So you can't be looking at this from the viewpoint of 'injecting' this into our current screwed up society. :)))

You've got to think of it in terms of a Utopian society. ;}

In other words, I was just dreaming sweetly, I wasn't proposing a radical political change in modern day society. I've totally given up on that a long time ago.

I just think it's a shame we don't teach everyone to be more musical. Especially the very young children since that's when they would pick it up the fastest and get into the rhythm of things. It seems to me that smart educators could tie these musical lessons in with mathematics and language skills. Kids could be made to play songs that help them remember their multiplications tables, etc. ;}

In fact, having written this post I'm inspired just now to go write a song about language. Speaking about verbs, nouns, adjectives, etc., and how they work in the language.

Oh absolutely Kev! Having kids composed, and write songs that make statements about their reading, writing, and arithmetic would be phenomenal. They could be assigned homework in history lessons where they have to write a song to summarize what's they've learned in a particular chapter.

Wow! I want my own planet when I grow up. I'll be the Czar and the whole planet will become a rockumentary living opera. :)
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
4,142
Location
Sweden
Do people think that doubling on a second instrument is a worthwile venture or am I just waisting valuable time which could be spent practing the sax!!:confused:

I don't play keyboard or gtr but I understand how music is built. You can learn that without playing keyboard or gtr. If you already a killer on sax then I would go for keyboard. If not, try to learn it out from the saxophone. I know lots of capable/educated saxplayers that knows almost everything. But the they don't have something to tell, thin borring tone ..... they simply forgot why they play the saxophone. I let the "clever boys" talk about music. I just blow my sax and have fun!

If you're going to be a pro (your music pays your bills!) then I think you must learn at least one other instrument.

Thomas
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Café Supporter
Messages
21,912
Location
Just north of Munich
I don't think you can teach musicality.... Some people have it, others don't. Most can learn to a reasonable standard, but we can't all be naturals like Tchaikovsky, Parker, Mozart, Henderson or Grieg.... If we were, there'd be no more rubbish on the radio - or in pub bands.

But I wish it were so. Life's too short for banal, mediocre music.
 

Rick Reed

Member
Messages
66
Location
Coventry United Kingdom
Thanks for all the useful advice so far guys. It's certainly given me alot to think about and I am really grateful.

I did start out as a drummer many moons ago, then got bit by the sax bug.
 

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
Location
Heaven
I don't think you can teach musicality.... Some people have it, others don't. Most can learn to a reasonable standard, but we can't all be naturals like Tchaikovsky, Parker, Mozart, Henderson or Grieg.... If we were, there'd be no more rubbish on the radio - or in pub bands.

But I wish it were so. Life's too short for banal, mediocre music.

I agree, you can't really teach musicality. However, we teach things like English and History as mandatory subjects, yet we don't expect everyone to become a great novelist, poet, or historian.

I didn't really mean to suggest that teaching all children music early on would necessarily create great musicians. There would still be the natural greats and average (or even poor musicians) just as their are still average and poor writers in spite of the fact that we make taking English mandatory.

I guess what I'm really saying is that I wish music would have been given the same importance as other subjects when I was a kid. I think I would have done better at music had it been a mandatory subject. I never even thought of playing a drum set until just recently at 61 years old. It's really COOL. I only wish that I had been exposed to it as a 6-year-old. As well as the violin too! And some other instruments.

So ok, maybe don't make it mandatory for everyone. I just wish those subjects had been standard curriculum when I was a kid.

I guess, that's what I'm really trying to say.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Café Supporter
Messages
21,912
Location
Just north of Munich
I guess what I'm really saying is that I wish music would have been given the same importance as other subjects when I was a kid. I think I would have done better at music had it been a mandatory subject.

I agree! And I wish music was taught properly at schools (as it is here), instead of being dropped by the educators.

But.... We change as we age, tastes, desitres.... One of my childhood friends was extremely gifted with the piano. (And makes a living from it now.) As a result I wanted to learn - but there was not enough dedication to do the work and gave up after a year or two. Maybe it would have been different as a compulsory subject, but my main interests at school were science subjects, history and french were anathema. As a teenager music was heavy rock (Led Zep, Deep Purple for instance) - although I was a choirboy up to the age of 13. I had little or no desire to play an instrument for many many years after that experience, but did play a bit of tin whistle on and off from my mid 20s. It's only now I'm in my 50s and want to play something with my wife and kids that I found the serious to learn an instrument.

And it's a new journey, and a lot of fun. In many ways I'm glad that it's still there for me to discover, and not a jaded recollection with the negative aspects of compulsory learning that it would have if I'd been forced into music any further than I was.
 

old git

Tremendous Bore
Although having played string, brass, free reed and woodwind in the past, the tenor was my first reed. Whether it is actually "doubling" or not, a EWI, a keyboard and decent samples, can either alert you to the differing problems of other musical voices or remind you of them. An example, using the Akai with no real need for air column support, I can play far longer sax passages than on the tenor and it shows you that the trumpet stabs in Basie's St Louis Blues would not work on any other instrument.

Summed up, it might not get you any extra gigs but it does remind you of other musician's problems and increases your admiration of all kinds of arrangers.

Mr. Pete, Sir. Is your WX still hanging around, please? Wonder what you want for it, as I'd love to compare the Yamaha with the 4000S Pro or let you do it. SaxCaff guys would trust your opinion far more than mine.
 

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
Location
Heaven
I'd certainly recommend a Rico Graftonite B5 Mouthpiece ................................. oh dear, wrong thread!:shocked::w00t:;}

Speaking of reedy thingies I made the move from #2 reeds to #1.5 reeds and it really made a huge difference! As a newbie with a weak embouchure I find the #1.5 far easier to control and play.

I also got a Rico Grafonite A3 mouthpiece. But it doesn't seem to be much different from one of the mouthpieces I already had. It is a nice mouth piece though, as was one of the ones I already had. I think the other mouth piece I had would be closer to an A7. It's harder to control but seems like it may have more dynamic range later on when my embouchure becomes more natural for me.
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,215
Location
Skabertawe, South Wales
Absolutely right - I mainly play a Ponzol Vintage 0.085" mouthpiece which has a very broad dynamic range (just narrower than the Rico A7 (0.090"). if you ever want to swap your A3 for my B5 (for a trial or otherwise) let me know. Mouthpieces can sound very similar, certainly when you start playing. Once your sound has begun to emerge you will often notice greater differences between them and also begin to develop a greater preference for certain pieces, in service of that sound.

Anyway back to doubling.........
Over the past few years I have added to my interest in playing sax by learning both trumpet and tenor trombone - very different ways of producing sound. It has made me much more aware of which pieces sound better on different instruments, and really enjoy being able to focus on one instrument at a time - currently trumpet, with Alto sax as back up. Learning a second instrument, as OG says, will broaden your understanding and sympathies, and the technical challenges involved in each one. I have tried both piano and bass guitar but am best suited to something that you blow - at this moment in time, at least.

So, go for it.......................:w00t:
Kind regards
Tom:cool:
 

dorono

Member
Messages
28
Location
Los Angeles
While you don't need to be the next Keith Jarrett, I'd definitely learn to at least play chord progressions on the piano. You'll be surprised at how well some sax players play the piano. Great for composition and arranging as well.
 

Members online

Popular Discussions

Top Bottom