Say you're asked to do a show right? You're a little tight on money and you're a good musician in your own right.Personally, I'm a lead guitarist, but this pertains to all musicians nonetheless. Your friend calls you, saying something about a big show, and he throws all the little amenities in there to catch your attention. Chance to headline, big local names, massive exposure, since it's a pretty big show, maybe an A&R representative(You never know.), just an all out amazing show.
Here's the kicker though: It's a blues and jazz festival.And he's not talking about Earl Klugh jazz, he's meaning Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, you know, the legends kind of jazz.Now, let's say you never really delved heavily into that kind of genre, you were always rooted in progressive metal. Dipped your fingertips here and there in different genres, but you never really bothered to listen to anything other than progressive metal. So you turn the show down and say no.
The next day you check up and ask how the show went.Turns out your friend and his band made $400 last night. $400 sounds pretty good right now considering you're tight on money. I don't know about you, but it seems that money like that is harsh to turn down, especially when you don't like the genre. Now, I don't know if I was talking to anyone in specific, but aside from possible financial incentives to learn new genres of music, it's become almost an obligation to be eclectic as a musician, regardless of instrument or background. Here a few things I think you should know about the benefits of being eclectic:
The first two fall under the Law Of Common Sense
1. Ear Training: Different genres, different albums, different techniques at recording, mixing, and mastering. I've, personally, never heard two albums sound alike. Granted, all albums may sound similar to the untrained ear, but there will always be vast differences. If you listen to a Bob Marley record, then listen to a Simon and Garfunkel record, you'll notice many different mixing properties. No two albums are alike.
2. Music Theory: If you attend Berklee or GIT where you're a contemporary music major, you may have to take some jazz or classical courses to help you learn your theory, ear training, improvisation, etc. Say you're listening to jazz, and you're unable to catch the comp because you've never listened to jazz before, and it sounds really offbeat and weird to you. Eventually if you listen to it longer over time, you'll catch the rhythm. Then you go listen to classic rock and you can catch the rhythm there much easier.
3. Lingo: This has happened to everyone before, at one time or another.
Your hanging with your friends, you all have your iPods out, and you're just being goofy and singing along to the stuff you're listening to. You take your friends' iPod and you scroll down the list of all the artists. I promise you that there will be at least 3 artists that you've never heard of on there. All of your friends know over 5 artists that you've never heard of, or heard of and you just never paid any attention to. My friends exposed me to so many new bands, and it's because of them that I'm a Between The Buried And Me, The Isosceles Project, Dream Theater, To The Republic, Inhale Exhale, and Asking Alexandria fan. But predominantly Between The Buried And Me.And a lot of my friends stick to classic rock, alternative '90s, that kind of thing. But I promise you that you're gonna want to listen to as many artists as you can. Ask if you can borrow of one their CDs, copy their songs from their iTunes, 4share a bulk of your albums, it helps to know as many artists as possible.
Conclusion: Being eclectic is not only a major part of being a musician, it's also becoming a growing necessity as new genres, musicians with different tastes, and the overall expansion of your mind, playing, and views on music are close enough to becoming mandatory. Take classes, read magazines as to how to play certain genres, pick up different instruments(if applicable), just get yourself exposed to a different way at seeing life and music!