Do you have a talent for playing a musical instrument? Some of us do, and some of us don’t. While it’s possible for anyone to learn to play a musical instrument, some people just seem to have a special ability to coax beautiful music from a piano or a guitar.

As hard as it is for some people to learn to play a musical instrument, would you believe there are some people who can play more than one instrument? It’s true! In fact, there are some people who can play so many instruments — and all at the same time! — that they can create the sound of an entire band all by themselves.

We call such a talented person a one-man band. Of course, it doesn’t have to be a man. A woman can be a one-man band — or one-woman band — too!

A musician playing multiple instruments at the same time as a one-man band might use the hands, feet, mouth and even other mechanical devices to produce music. The simplest type of one-man band might be a contemporary folk singer who uses his voice, an acoustic guitar and a harmonica mounted below the mouth.

Other one-man bands can be much more complex, though. Wind instruments can be strapped around the neck. Drums can be mounted on the back and connected to foot pedals. Cymbals can be worn between the knees. Maracas can be tied to the arms. Stringed instruments can be slung over the shoulders. If you’re a one-man band, you can be as creative as you want to be!

Playing more than one musical instrument at a time has a long history. Simple combinations of an early version of the flute and a snare drum date back to the 13th century. Versions with four or more instruments date back to the 1800s.

Today, it’s still possible to find one-man bands. Sometimes you’ll see them perform at street fairs or parades. If you ever get the chance to see a one-man band perform live, take it. Seeing one person simultaneously play multiple instruments live is impressive!

Modern technology has developed to the point where just about anyone can be a one-man band…at least on a recording. If you can play multiple musical instruments, it’s possible to play them each one at a time while recording. When you’re done, you can mix all the tracks together electronically to produce a recording on which you played all the instruments.

Several popular musicians, including Prince and Paul McCartney, have been known to record music in this way. While it may not be quite as impressive as playing all the instruments live at the same time, it’s still quite a feat to be able to play so many instruments at a level worthy of a musical recording!

58 Join the Discussion

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    • Happy Thursday, Siddman! Thank you for commenting on our musical Wonder today– we love the video too! The musicians are all very talented but they were judging a book by it’s cover, assuming the girl only had one coin! In the end, she surprised all of them! We are so happy to have you here, WONDERing with us today! :)

  1. We think one man or woman can be a band, but he or she must be very talented and know how to play many instruments.

    • WOW, what a great connection the students in Mrs. Madison’s Class made! We are SUPER excited that you enjoyed today’s Wonder, and we couldn’t agree more– there is so much talent in playing multiple instruments! We hope you have a great day, filled with Wonder! :)

  2. I’ve seen a man use only his voice and he made his voice sound like so many instruments! I really liked today’s wonder! Thanks!

    • WOW, that sounds like one of the coolest musical talents we’ve ever heard of, Bryleigh! We’re so HAPPY that you’re WONDERing with us today– we love music and sharing our excitement with other great Wonder Friends like you! Thanks for commenting today! :)

  3. We loved this video! Yes, you can have a one-man band! When the coin dropped in the sewer, HM said, “That’s what they get!” What a great start to our day! :)

    • WOHOO, we’re so excited the WONDERful students in PLVRoom8 are here with us today! We’re thrilled that you enjoyed the video– it taught us a great lesson, too! We hope you have a WONDERful rest of your day, Wonder Friends! :)

    • WOHOO, thanks for sharing your Wonder with us, Wulf715! It often takes some time to get a Wonder ready for our Wonder Friends to enjoy, but we hope you Wonder along with us in the meantime! Have a SUPER day, Wulf715! :)

    • Great point, Ben! We think your WONDERful comment is SUPER, and a one man band can mean a lot of things! We Wonder if you have any musical talents of your own– could you create a one man band yourself? :)

  4. Hi it’s Anja,
    That was very intresting to watch this morning before I got ready for school!
    That was so funny how these two men were trying to get one gold coin!
    That was very intresting to listen to. Why did the little girl want to give away a golden coin anyways?
    Well I guess she just wanted to to put money in to a peacefull waterfall.
    Thank you Wonderopolis for your amazing facts and I will be posting way more coments this amazing school year!
    Thanks again!


    • Hi there, Anja, we are smiling after hearing you’re WONDERing as you jump out of bed! Great work! We’re unsure of the value of the coin– perhaps it was worth a lot of money and the musicians were in need of some cash! We think the little girl was deciding who to reward with her gold coin, but she couldn’t decide– the fountain might have had magical powers to grant her wish! Who knows, but we LOVE using our imagination with you– it’s so much fun! Thanks for WONDERing with us today! :)

  5. We found the video entertaining. The music duel made us laugh. One coin didn’t seem like a lot of money for all that work. We had different opinions about what a one-man band could be. Some of us thought that a person playing the guitar and singing would make it a band. Other people thought that a person could play the guitar with their hands, use a microphone to sing, and play the drums with their feet.

    • Hooray, we are so glad that you enjoyed today’s Wonder, Erhan! We can’t wait to continue using your imagination and Wonder with you again tomorrow! :)

  6. We LOVED the video on one man band!!!!! LOL it was SO funny!!! We think tomorrow’s wonder of the day® is going to be on cereal! (:

  7. The video was really awesome and funny and the facts were really cool. I think it would be awesome to start a one man band and I think tomorrow’s wonder will be about cereal, oatmeal, or grits or something like that. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow’s wonder will be!

    • YAY, we are SUPER happy to hear you enjoyed and smiled along with us as you checked out today’s Wonder of the Day®, Tori L! We bet you could start a one person band… you can start with a little rhythm! Thanks for guessing with us– we can’t wait to find out what tomorrow’s Wonder will be! :)

  8. I love this Pixar Short Film! I have watched it before a bunch of movies! It was cool to learn about one man bands today! I love seeing them perform, sometime I see them perform at the local fair! Thanks for the awesome wonders this week! Our class loves them.
    Thank you!

    • How cool, Elise! We think it’s AWESOME that you’ve gotten a sneak peek at the video we watched today! :) But we think it’s just as COOL to have seen a one person band LIVE! You are a lucky duck, Elise! Thanks to you and your class for joining us today! :)

  9. Hi this is Anna! I thought the video was funny. I enjoyed reading about “one man bands” and thought it would be so cool to see one live! I think tomorrow’s wonder will be about oatmeal or cereal. Thanks for posting!

    • Well hello Anna, thanks for smiling with us today while we Wonder about one man bands! Our Wonder Friend Elise saw a one person band LIVE at her state fair– we hope you get to see one too! We will see you tomorrow as we Wonder about something new and AWESOME! :)

  10. I loved that video. I have seen that before LOTS of Pixar movies, this website is sooo
    cool. I also love the finger painting video, it hardly looks like fingers and toes!

    • SUPER cool, Erin, thanks for sharing your comment with us today! Another Wonder Friend mentioned seeing the video before a movie, too! How AWESOME! We hope you have a SUPER day, and we are glad you enjoyed learning about handy art, too! :)

  11. Dear Wonderopolis,

    We loved watching the video! Our favorite part was when the money fell down the drain. My super third graders think tomorrow’s wonder will be about different foods you can eat in a bowls. We even came up with a short list: cereal, oatmeal, icecream, and soup!

    • A big hello to the SUPER students in Ms. Moreland’s 3rd Grade Class! We are overjoyed to hear that you enjoyed our musical Wonder today, too! Thanks for joining the fun today and guessing what tomorrow will bring! We are excited to find out how you start your mornings with our Wonder! :)

  12. We loved the video! We found it humorous. We were surprised by her violin talent. Some of our class thinks that the little girl’s reaction to the coin falling down the sewer was appropriate. If we were in her shoes and lost our gold coin, we would be upset too.

    This was our first visit to Wonderopolis. We look forward to tomorrow’s wonder. We predict that it is about cereal!

    • WOHOO and hello to the WONDERful and awesome students in Mrs. Wall’s 4th grade class! We bet your students have hidden talents of their own, just like the violinist in the video! :)

      We are so glad you’re here, WONDERing with us! We can’t wait to see you again at Wonderopolis! :)

  13. Dear Wonderopolis~
    I want to play the trumpet. It is very cool to me. My uncle plays it, and my other uncle plays guitar and saxophone. I think it is possible to be a one man band. Mary Poppins had a one man band with the man in the movie. From Luke.

    • Hi there, Luke! We think playing the trumpet would be SUPER cool– perhaps your musically inclined uncles could teach you! :) We love your connection to Mary Poppins– Bert is an incredibly talented musician! We hope you have a WONDERful day, Wonder Friend Luke! :)

  14. Oh my gosh, I LOVE that video!!! I can be a one man band! I could play piano and sing!!! I think tomorrow’s WONDER will be about the history of CEREAL!!!

    Emily <3

    • Hip hip HOORAY for Emily’s comment today! We think you are so correct– you should try out your singing and piano-playing act for your family! That would be so COOL! Thanks for sharing your SUPER guess with us– we can’t wait to find out what tomorrow’s Wonder with you! :)

  15. That video was very funny. The little girl gets all the money at the end.

    I also learned a lot from the article like for a example there is more than one way to to make a one man band.

    I also how there is still a chance for people to see a one man band I hope I get to see one.

    I am surprised that they have been on the earth for 212 years now! I wonder where they are popular. I’m thinking Chicago or San Francisco.

    If you remember you said you wanted me to see what the the high jumpers have for shoes I looked it up it’s like running shoes but they have four spikes on the heal so they can jump higher. It’s amazing what websites could do these days.

    • We’re glad to have you laughing with us today, Matt D! There are so many COOL things to learn about, especially when it comes to musical talents! We hope you get to experience a one person band live in the future– they are a bunch of fun to see!

      We are SUPER EXCITED that you completed some research of your own about the athletic high jump shoes! Way to go Matt D! We’re so happy that you’re WONDERing with us! :)

  16. Hey wonderpolis,
    Today I learned many things with you. In a one-man band you can play more than just one instrument. Some one-man bands are very simple, others a complex. Sometimes you will see one-man bands in cities or public events to raise money. Why do one-man bands only have on person? Also would you like to be in you’re own one-man band? I wouldn’t because I would get very lonely not having any one to instruct my music or my instrument playing. And also who would perform with you just you on a huge stage. I think that tomorrow’s wonder is going to be about bow ties and how it became popular and in fashion. Can’t wait to wonder again tomorrow with you guys.

    • WOHOO for Jules- we are so happy to hear about all the WONDERful new things you’ve learned with us! We think it would be quite interesting to be in our own one person band here at Wonderopolis… we Wonder if we could juggle all those instruments on our own! We think the audience could keep us company– great Wonder Friends like you! Maybe we could imagine playing our musical instruments on stage, together!

      We can’t wait to find out what we will Wonder about together! :)

  17. I think the video today was hilarious because the to men were fighting over ONE coin I watched this video with my class in Mr. LaValle’s class!
    And I think yes there is such a thing as a one man band.


    • We are so excited that you and your AWESOME classmates in Mr. LaValle’s class enjoyed our Wonder and the video today, Cora! We hope you used your imagination about what kind of one person band you could create… we Wonder which types of instruments you would play! :)

    • We think that’s an AWESOME guess, Tiauna! We can’t wait to visit tomorrow’s Wonder to see if you’re right! Have a GREAT day…and thanks for being a friend of Wonderopolis! :-)

  18. I knew it!!! (even though I didn’t guess it, it WAS my first guess!) Great wonder. I LOVED the wonder of the day, the video especially! If I was her, I definitely would have given the guy with heaps of different instruments rather than the violinist. ( I’m not a big fan of violin!! ) :) I think tomorrow’s wonder of the day will be about what kind of cereal do you eat??
    :) I’ll be back again tomorrow!

    • Your comment ROCKS, Anna! Thanks for visiting this Wonder of the Day® and sharing your thoughts with us! We’re SUPER happy to hear that you’ll be visiting Wonderopolis and learning new things with us again tomorrow! :-)

    • We’re clapping our hands in rhythm to see that you’ve commented, Simba! We think learning about talented one man bands is SUPER cool and we are so happy you liked it, too! We Wonder if you play any instruments, or if you have a special talent to share! Thanks for WONDERing with us today! :)

  19. Hi I am in Mrs. Wall’s 4th grade class, in this video me and some other friend thought the girl was being selfish. Some say that she deserved to act that way. She could have said please or thank you but she didn’t. I think the wonder tommorow will be cereal, too. Well I will see you soon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    • Hi Grace, thanks for stopping by to Wonder with us! We are glad you are making informed decisions about the video. There are many different ways to watch the video, it all depends on your perspective! Thanks for sharing your comment with us– we can’t wait to Wonder with you again! :)

  20. I think this one is the best one yet. I am glad this site put this one on here! It’s sooooo CUTE! Also this reminds me about a video that’s called do rabbits have good eyesight! Have you ever seen a band like this?

    • Isn’t music of all sorts so WONDERful, Emma? We are so happy you enjoyed this Wonder with us today; we’ve seen some pretty amazing one-man (and woman) bands. Thanks for sharing your comment and your connection! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Can one man be a band?
  • How old are one-man bands?
  • Can modern technology allow anyone to be a one-man band?

Wonder Gallery

street musician_shutterstock_82623235Vimeo Video

Try It Out

Could you be your own one-man band? Or maybe you’d be a one-boy band or a one-girl band. In any case, you know what we mean!

Check out the links below to see how you can make some simple instruments at home. Then see how many of them you can play at the same time!

If you have a friend or family member who could make a video of you playing your instruments, ask them to do it! You can then share your talent with your Wonder Friends by posting the video to the Wonderopolis Facebook page! We can’t wait to hear your sweet music!

Still Wondering

Explore ArtsEdge’s Music Muscles lesson and walk like you’re the drum majorette, or leader, of a marching band! Is it easy or hard? Remember to stand up straight, lift your knees and strike up the band!

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