Jack of all trades

We have all heard the saying, jack of all trades master of none. So I pose the question, is it better to be a jack of all trades or be extremely proficient at one thing? In the music world this mostly means playing different instruments. I’m posing no argument but pointing out how both sides succeed.

On one hand, I have seen many people be able to play most instruments to a certain level of being able to “keep up.” What is the plus side to this? You can be a part of almost any group, project, recording, you get asked to take part in. For example, they could be recording a simple bass line one day for one artist and performing live the next day on drums with a different band. Most people I have seen approaching it in this sense have to be very open minded and willing to play any style. They keep busy and in the end usually become proficient at a couple of things. A good example of this would be Dave Grohl being a good songwriter on guitar and great drummer for rock. Dave Grohl worked his way in as the drummer for Nirvana and now has played with many projects with the main one being his own Foo Fighters.

On the other side, you have someone who is highly proficient at one instrument. It seems that these people need to have strong networking skills because they won’t be able to play everything they are offered (i.e. asked to play different instrument than they can play). However, there is the potential of getting asked to play with a group/artist that needs someone of a higher caliber. Thus, you may be recognized as “being good enough” to play with a certain group/artist. For instance, Led Zeppelin wouldn’t just ask anyone to fill in on drums for a reunion tour. Chances are they would be a close friend and a highly proficient player. Take note that I did say friend. This is where the networking comes in; being frequent to places each week/month, being recognized, talking and getting to know those you see all the time.

Being frequent and making conversation with those you see frequently is eventually where either side will succeed much quicker. Your name will begin to be “tossed around” conversation more among the guys you want to play with and eventually you will be worked in. I have seen this work very well with one of my colleagues at work. He moved here with his family about a year ago and is already writing with big name songwriters and playing gigs 3 or 4 times a week.

What’s your take on the subject? Let’s get some conversation going!!! Below I have posted Dave Grohl on guitar/drums with the Foo Fighters and on drums with Queens of the Stone Age.

 

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