12 Musical Instruments That Lead to In-Demand Careers
There are thousands of musical instruments out there, but most people pick just a few to learn. The guitar, piano and flute are all wonderful instruments, making them quite popular, but that leads to a lot of competition if you want to make a career with those instruments.
It's tough for aspiring flutists when 30 of them show up for an audition, but there's only one open spot in the orchestra. On the other hand, orchestras need dozens of violins, meaning it's a lot easier for violinists to get the job when 30 show up for an audition, and there are a dozen open spots.
There are many great musical instruments that do lead to in-demand careers. From the electric bass to the violin to the oboe, there's something for everyone. Of course, there's more to picking a musical instrument than it's career options, but knowing the career option is there makes sticking with endless hours of practice somewhat easier.
Everyone wants to be a shredding guitarist, but with so many good guitarists around, competition is tough. If you want a future in jazz, rock, pop and other related genres, these three instruments are a better choice.
1. Electric Bass
Many people assume that playing bass is easy if you already know how to play guitar, but playing bass well is easier said than done. The electric bass requires a different technical skill set than the guitar, and arguably bassists need better rhythm. Bassists in jazz, rock and pop lay down the groove for bands, and being able to do that like second nature is a rare skill. The bassist might not be the flashiest part of a group, but bands are always searching for bassists who are good at what they do.
Drummers are in demand partially because getting started with drums is hard, which keeps people away. Drums are loud and good drum sets are expensive, and aspiring drummers often have to practice at school or confined to a garage, but because there are so few good drummers around, prospects are good if they manage to get that practice. Even with the rise of drum machines and digital production, most bands still use real drums for live performances, and because touring is essential to many groups today, good drummers are highly sought-after.
Being a keyboardist in jazz, rock and pop bands is different than knowing how to play the piano. Millions of people take piano lessons at some point, but few know how to do more than read the music written on the page. On the other hand, versatile keyboardists need to know how to jam and experiment with bands, just like guitarists, bassists and drummers, and they need to know how to take advantage of synthesizers and other electric musical enhancements. Bands often have a hard time finding people with these flexible keyboard skills.
Unlike modern instruments, where versatility is vital, classical musicians need high technical skills and in-depth knowledge of classical repertoire for a fruitful career. But like modern instruments, many people learn some, like the piano and flute, while ignoring the ones below.
The oboe is an old-fashioned woodwind instrument that uses a double reed, unlike the more modern single-reed instruments, such as the clarinet and saxophone. Double reed instruments are hard to play, and unlike single reed instruments, musicians playing double-reed instruments usually make reeds of their own, which is difficult to learn. Few people learn oboe, and many schools don't even teach it, but every orchestra needs multiple oboes, keeping professional oboists in high demand.
The bassoon is another double reed instrument like the oboe, but because of its unwieldy size and relatively high cost, even fewer people learn to play it. Orchestras have even more trouble finding good bassoonists than oboists. It may be hard to play and learn, but any bassoonist who can get through the standard repertoire is almost guaranteed a good career.
Compared to double-reed instruments, many people learn to play the violin, but while orchestras rarely need more than three or four oboes and bassoons, they need dozens of musicians for each string instrument. Getting started with the violin is often hard because it has no frets to help find the right notes, but professional violinists are almost always in demand.
The viola is similar to the violin but slightly larger. Many good violinists can also play the viola, but because composers write different parts for each instrument in the orchestra, violists have to master an entirely different repertoire. Fewer people know the viola's repertoire well, making it even harder for orchestra's to find good violists.
8. Double Bass
The double bass is the largest standard string instrument, and while orchestras don't need quite as many as violins and violas, fewer people play the double bass because it's so unwieldy. As a bonus, versatile double bassists can expand their career options by learning early modern styles, such as jazz, bluegrass and rockabilly, where bands often still use an acoustic double bass instead of the more modern electric bass.
Cello is the main midrange string instrument in orchestras, and while cellists aren't in as high demand as other string musicians, the cello is still a reasonably good bet compared to many other instruments. An average orchestra might need two dozen violins and only a dozen cellos, but that's still more than the typical two to three flutes.
Demand for historical instruments comes from for groups and orchestras trying to recreate the original sound of compositions from the past, instead of rearranging them with more modern instruments. That is particularly true for music from the Renaissance and Baroque periods in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries.
The violone is similar to the double bass, but comes from a different line of the string family, meaning it has a slightly different shape and sound. That might not seem like much to many people, but people trying to recreate the exact sound of historical music are increasingly using violones instead of double basses. Learning the violone is a relatively easy option for double bassists looking to improve their career options.
The lute is similar to the guitar, but again, it's from a different, earlier line of the string family. During the 20th century, most musicians used classical guitars to play music initially composed for the lute, but as with the violone, more and more groups and orchestras want the specific lute sound for more accurate recordings and performances. The lute is different enough from the guitar that it can be a little hard for guitarists to learn quickly, meaning skilled lute players have outstanding career options.
It takes a long time to learn to play an instrument at a professional level, but picking the right one makes turning your passion into a career much easier. It's not the only reason to learn a musical instrument, but considering the wide variety in demand, having a look around certainly doesn't hurt.