Top 6 artists who aren’t singers by Riley Walpole


National Music Academy is all about the artist’s choice. I wanted to take this opportunity to clear up and define what being an artist means. **BEING AN ARTIST DOESN’T MEAN YOU’RE JUST A SINGER-SONGWRITER**. Being an artist means you can be everything from an instrumentalist to spoken word and in any genre. Here are my top 6 artists that are not singer-songwriters.
The first would have to be the amazing David Garrett. David Garrett is a German violinist who writes his own music and also performs phenomenal covers of popular songs. He moved to New York at the height of his career to studying musicology and composition at Julliard School. He plays both classical pieces as well as awesome rock covers of songs like Kashmir, Smells Like Teen Spirit, Viva La Vida and much more, as well as writing and performing his own music. He is an amazing artist and takes violin playing to the next level. Here is one of his original songs, ‘Explosive’.

Another awesome artist is Steve Vai. Steve pretty much was the first person to make his style of metal guitar popular and is a phenomenal guitarist. He describes his music as, “not better than what other people do, just different.” He first came into the spotlight as a guitarist in Frank Zappa’s band and then went on to pursue his solo career with the debut of his album ‘Flex-Able’. Vai has won three Grammys, becoming a main influence in the post-grunge era. Here is a video of Steve playing his song, ‘I’m The Hell Outta Here’.


For all the classical guitar lovers out there, Andres Segovia is definitely the one for you. This man practically re-popularised and re-invented classical guitar as we know it. He is an amazing Spanish guitarist who is remembered for his amazing expressive performances and his distinctive style. Many classical guitarists today were students of Segovia or are students of students. He is known as one of the greatest guitarists of all time. Something unique about Segovia’s classical playing is that he used a combination of both fingernail and fingertips to pluck the strings. Many classical guitarists debate which is the best method and only use one. Check out the best classical guitar performance of all time.


Now, no top artist list can go without Sean Mackin. Sean is the violinist in the 90s punk band Yellowcard. He adds an awesome aspect to the songs with violin parts throughout and occasional violin solos which are absolutely amazing. He joined the band in 1997 and has been with them ever since. Sean writes all of his own violin parts and they fit so well in the songs. They didn’t want him to play violin at first, but when they decided to keep him as a permanent member, he was given the role of violinist and backup singer. Here is the greatest violin solo ever.


When talking about instrumental artists, a lot of people forget about one of the most popular type. That being DJs. Skrillex pretty much invented dubstep and made it popular. Sonny Moore, more popularly known as Skrillex, started his music career with the post-hardcore band From First to Last as the lead singer, but left to pursue a solo career in electronic dance music production. Skrillex has received eight Grammys throughout his dubstep career. Here is his most well-known song, ‘Bangarang’.

Lastly, it would be a crime to not add one of the greatest instrumental bands of today, Snarky Puppy. The band has as many as 25 members in regular rotation. The band was formed by bassist and the main composer Michael Leagues and he refers to the band as, “a pop band that improvises a lot, without vocals”. Snarky Puppy has given over 100 masterclasses across North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia, and we are lucky enough to actually be having Michael Leagues himself coming to Newcastle to host a masterclass with National Music Academy to further demonstrate how to be an artist you don’t have to just be a singer-songwriter. Check out some of their music here. Get ready to be blown away.


So that wraps it up for my clarification and definition of the “artist”, and how it doesn’t just involve being a singer-songwriter. I hope all my instrumentalist friends out there have been enlightened and inspired by this and keep writing your amazing music. Hopefully, the music of these artists has encouraged you to pursue an artist career if that’s what you dream of, and I hope to see you all at the Snarky Puppy masterclass to expand your knowledge and skills in the area. Happy composing! 🙂

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