Learning Guitar: How And Why You Should

We rock tonight!
I have played guitar for years and once again, my six-stringed friend is keeping me sane.

Studies have shown that playing instruments can prevent diseases like Alzheimer's, by boosting cognitive abilities. Guitar is effectively brain training, and a way to sharpen your reflexes.

Progressing through the early phases of learning is hugely enjoyable. Nobody turns into Jimi Hendrix over night (or ever), but with consistency, a decent standard is possible in six months.

As hobbies go, it doesn't have to be pricey. I own a few expensive guitars, but there are brilliant guitars under £200 ($275). If that's too much, explore the second-hand market where bargains are plentiful.

Mental Health Benefits

My early twenties were perhaps the more challenging moments of my life. My family had moved back to Essex and I felt a little lost in the world. I was stumbling through temporary jobs, not knowing what I wanted from life and lacking motivation.

This period lasted a couple of years and gradually I found purpose and direction. Many young people go through it, perhaps more so today. The guitar was a saviour, during some challenging and lonely times. It gave me something to focus on and a creative outlet.

I am no expert, but in my experience, overthinking is a major cause of stress and anxiety. In challenging times, we spend too much time in our heads. People worry a lot, and I've talked about the comparison trap in a previous post. The mind is powerful, and sometimes a fresh focus helps us to avoid this negative thinking.
The mind is powerful, and sometimes a fresh focus helps us to avoid this negative thinking.
Learning guitar provides that focus, because you apply yourself to something. I found learning therapeutic and I gained a sense of achievement from it. Perhaps I was borderline obsessive, but it helped me to improve. Learn at your own pace, and enjoy the process.

Human Connection

The human element of music is powerful, and a place where friendships freely form. You join a little club when you learn guitar, where you can discuss guitar stuff and share advice. I have gained many friendships over the years, through the guitar. It gives you a platform to connect both musically and socially. 

When I was younger, I would play in various pub gigs, open mic nights and family events. Even if I played average, I could bring a smile to some faces. Music is a great ice-breaker for that and people tend to love live music.

I remember performing at a wedding once. This kind chap pulled me aside and told me how much he'd enjoyed our playing. He'd grown-up on fifties Rock 'n' Roll, and the band had brought back some happy memories. That's the power of music!

Once thing I like to do, is share my playing online, usually via Instagram or YouTube. I like spreading some joy, hearing feedback and connecting with other guitarists. Guitar players are generally modest, kind and encouraging creatures. As guitarists, we all have our strengths, weaknesses and limitations as players. It is ok and it isn't a competition!

Unwinding with a bit of classic AC/DC - like you do!

Getting Started With Guitar

I caught the bug late, despite my father playing guitar for years. I didn't take guitar seriously until my late teens. I soon became obsessed, practicing religiously, but it fast-tracked my playing. You have to put in the practice, to get good.

I wish YouTube had been around when I started out, because it's a game changer. I didn't have YouTube, just a subscription to Total Guitar magazine. Today's guitarists will find hours of free videos and lessons covering every aspect of guitar. It has never been easier to learn. 

Once you have a guitar, start learning the basics and exploring online lessons. Learn how to tune the guitar, how to hold it properly and some basic chord shapes. Chords are just a collection of notes, which are formed with chord shapes on the guitar. Chord diagrams will show the correct finger positions and with a few chords, you can play most the top 40!

Aspiring guitarists typically favour acoustic or electric guitars. Acoustics are great for rhythm-based styles, folk or finger-style. Electric guitars are better for louder more progressive music and melodic lead guitar styles. I play both, but it will depend on your genre preferences. 

Persist with it, because learning guitar is enjoyable. You should never stop learning and striving to be better. There is always something to learn, some theory or new guitar piece to explore. Your enjoyment and passion will rocket when you learn a song, and people recognise it. 

Final Thoughts

If you are looking for a new hobby, give guitar a try, or any instrument for that matter. Few hobbies are as enjoyable, beneficial and enriching to the people around you.

Right now, there can be no better time to learn an instrument and learning guitar is relatively cheap.

Keep on rocking, in a free world! 🎸

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