A well-rounded musician is someone who embraces a variety of musical styles and abilities in such a way that each musical style of musical ability becomes a natural part of their performing identity. It is the aspiration of all teachers to be able to encourage their students to appreciate these various abilities; this offers opportunities for each student to incorporate all the elements to enrich their musical journey.

You may be wondering, “what are some of the skills associated with being a well-rounded musician?” The following list will offer an idea:

1. Play in a variety of styles.

Learning to play in a particular style works for most students, however from time to time students become eager to learn new skills. A good music instructor will allow students to try a variety of music styles during their studies, such as classical, pop, rock, jazz, country, improvisation, or writing original pieces. It is important to note that all students will have their own personal limitations in music appreciation or physical ability. As such, not all students will embrace every style of music that is available to them. It is the job of the music instructor to appreciate the student’s interests and attend to the lessons around the styles of music that will speak to the student. In all the lessons I teach, I encourage all students to learn at least one piece a year in a style they might not otherwise want to play: students studying jazz music should learn to play a piece of classical music and vice versa. spill

2. Read music and play by ear.

In each teacher’s music studio, we work with a variety of students who have a variety of musical talents. Some students are great readers, they can naturally see the music on the page and crack the code to play the music on their instrument. Other students have a natural interest and talent in listening to the music they play. These students listen well to the music around them and can interpret these sounds naturally and coherently on their instrument.

In both cases, each student has mastered an important skill, but these skills offer only a certain amount of success. In my personal journey, I have learned the steps that are necessary to amalgamate the skills of listening to my performance while reading the music on the page. This fusion creates not only a technically proficient performance, a performance sensitivity to listening to the music that is created creates an added dimension that goes beyond what is written on the page.

3. Appreciation for working in a group setting vs. solo setting

The pianists are trained from the first lesson to work as soloists. Let’s face it, the piano is an instrument that can stand on its own, it’s a lone wolf. I remember in high school having the opportunity to play music in a variety of group settings. I was a trombonist in my high school concert band, I was a piano accompanist in my high school concert choir.

I also had summer jobs working as a pit musician for a local theater company playing 2 keyboard parts (synths, string sounds, etc.). These activities were a lot of fun and required the same style of practice that I completed on the piano. The result of a solo practice session with my trombone was different at home, I was playing just one melody line. This activity (sometimes) was tedious, it was lonely. However, when all the members of the concert band got together for rehearsal or a performance, all the parts came together to create beautiful music.

Encouraging students to join a band, work together in small ensembles, or play duets offers a different set of opportunities and challenges that will enrich their learning environment. Every musician has the opportunity to enjoy working together in a group to collectively make music that is meaningful to others. It’s also a lot of fun!


It is my hope that all music teachers, music students, and parents take advantage of the various opportunities to make music in a meaningful way, their lives will be enriched as a result.

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