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Is Learning Multiple Styles of Music A Priority? 


This is something that some people may be wondering. Some people including those who play think that you should learn certain styles of music before you learn the style you primarily want to play. This is not true at all. If you want to play metal, you don’t need to know how to play fingerstyle guitar, although you certainly can. There are many musicians who play their style of music but do not know how to play all the other styles (at least they haven’t said that they have).

But still you might be thinking if it is still important to learn about other styles and playing other styles of music. Well the answer is maybe.

It really depends what you want to be able to do. A short answer would be “if you want to play other styles of music then learn those styles” but that may not be detailed enough for some of you. It really depends on what your musical goals are and what you are into playing.  

You do need to know multiple styles of music if

- You want to be a session musician- This is something where you need to know multiple styles. You do not need to be an expert at these styles but you must be able to play these styles on a competent level. If you want to do this, then you need to invest some practice time learning how to play various styles. Playing songs in various styles would give you an insight on the elements of the style. For example the rhythmic elements of funk is very different from rhythm elements in fingerstyle acoustic playing.

- You want to play songs in multiple styles- If you do want to play songs in multiple styles, learning about these styles would be helpful for being able to play those songs competently. For example playing certain rhythms and playing certain techniques would be either difficult or you would have no idea how to do it unless you learn about these styles.


- You want to write songs that takes influence from various styles of music- you do not need to learn as much about these styles as if you wanted to be a session musician, but it would be helpful to know something about these styles as you would be able to take influence from these styles in much more creative ways.

- You want to write music for film, games, tv or any other kind of media- If you want to do this, learning other musical instruments would be good as well. Depending on what kind films you would be writing for, depending on what scenes you write for, what show you write for etc. certain instruments would be more appropriate to create the mood and effect you want. Certain styles would be more likely to fit the mood of the scenes or the feel of what you are writing for.


You do not need to know multiple styles of music if:

- You want to write music in a specific style. If you want to write music in a very specific style then you do not need to know multiple styles of music. It could be useful but it is not necessary.

- You want to improvise. There are styles where improvisation does not play a big part, therefore learning those styles would be a waste of time if you want to improvise.

- You want to be a recording artist or perform onstage. You can do those things without knowing a lot of styles of music.


There are likely more goals here which I have not shared that may or may not require you to know about many styles of music or playing a lot of instruments. Determine what you goals are and then see if you need to learn multiple styles or instruments based on those goals.


About the author: Although Jake Willmot started playing guitar when he was 12, that doesn’t mean that you have to start young to play the guitar and be satisfied with the way you play. Jake has helped people in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s or even in you 60’s and 70’s play the guitar. As a guitar teacher in Exmouth Jake Willmot is heavily into metal music and a lot of rock based styles.