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Multi Instrumentalist: Understanding the Instrument Families

You may have heard of musicians who say they are a multi instrumentalist, but do you know what it truly means? Yes, the basic idea is that the musician can play more than one instrument, but there is a bit more to it than that. There are four main types of instruments, and it is important to understand what they are and how it ties into being a multi instrumentalist.


Many jazz musicians are multi instrumentalists. To find an excellent quality professional musician in your area for your next event, look for the words ‘best jazz musician in my area’.


What are the main types of instruments?

There are four main types of instruments, known as families. Most instruments are grouped within these families, and when they are brought together, the instruments form a band orchestra. A multi instrumentalist often knows several instruments within one family, but can also have experience with instruments in different families.


  1. Brass instruments are long hollow pipes with a bell-shaped opening through which sound is produced. The musician blows into a mouthpiece and presses down on small valves to create different sounds as the air passes through the pipes. Examples include tubas, trumpets, and trombones.

  2. Percussion instruments are instruments that create sound when they are hit, shaken, or struck. This causes a vibration that produces a sound. Some examples include cymbals, drums, and triangles. Pianos can also be classified here because the keys strike strings to create the sound.

  3. String instruments produce sound by having the strings plucked, struck, or bowed to cause the vibration. The strings are placed over a hollow wooden body. Examples of string instruments include the violin, cello, bass, and harp.

  4. Woodwind instruments are hollow pipes made form materials such as wood or metal. Sound is produced when blowing on a mouthpiece that contains a reed, which vibrates as air moves across. The different notes are created by covering certain holes with fingers. Examples are the flute, bassoon, and clarinet.


How does a multi instrumentalist use this information?

A multi instrumentalist who understands how the different instruments work to create sound can better choose which instruments to learn. In doing so, this allows them to have a better musical perspective and better understanding of where the music comes from. It also allows them to be more versatile, which will create more opportunities.


To find a great jazz musician who is a multi instrumentalist, search for ‘best jazz musician in my area’.

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