When I tell people that I run a guitar academy, they commonly tell me that they’d love to learn to play guitar or that they’d really like to get back into it. Sometimes, I sense that they genuinely want to learn, so I find out more about their musical tastes and their desire to learn to play. Other times, I sense that it is little more than a romantic fancy that they are never going to act on. For those in the second category, there is little point discussing it, beyond a conversational level, but for those in the first category, it is worth diving deeper into the benefits of guitar playing, so that they may experience them for themselves. The purpose of this article is to:
1. Persuade readers who may be on the fence about investing the time, energy and potentially the finances involved, into pursuing their guitar playing dreams.
2. Encourage readers who really want to learn but may currently have higher priorities holding them back from getting started, to consciously decide to make more time in their life to embark on this musical journey.
3. Encourage readers for whom playing guitar is a side hobby that they only dabble with occasionally, to place it higher in their priorities list, so that they can increase the benefits associated with regular guitar playing.
So, without further ado, here are ten reasons why you should make guitar playing a priority in your life:
1. Playing guitar is fun
There are few things more fun than playing guitar. Sure, sports are fun. Computer games are fun. Other hobbies are fun. I’m not trying to convince you that guitar playing is more fun than other interests you may have. I’m simply making the case that guitar playing is fun and the better you become at it, the more fun it becomes.
There is something very cool about expressing musical emotions through the focussed control of vibrating strings, and, as you learn to control those strings and express those emotions with greater expertise, the joy you can get from it is extraordinary.
2. Playing guitar is rewarding
Improving at anything in life provides a great sense of accomplishment. Like many things in life, playing guitar can be difficult at first. Beginning players often have difficulty making a note ring clearly, let alone memorising and learning to move between chord shapes and synchronise the hand movements necessary for smooth chord changes. Intermediate players can struggle to play bends accurately, memorise longer pieces, execute challenging parts or understand and apply harmonic theory. Even advanced players experience challenges in getting a part up to speed or composing a piece that accurately expresses the emotion they want to convey.
Playing guitar is a great opportunity to put the time and effort into overcoming challenges and experiencing the elation that comes from having achieved a goal you set for yourself. Maybe it’s making a part sound great, or accompanying yourself singing your favourite songs, or learning to improvise over a backing track, or looping a rhythm and playing a solo over it, or writing your own song, or recording and producing an original composition. Whatever your goals are, achieving them is incredibly rewarding and inspires you to set new, more ambitious goals and start moving toward them.
3. Playing guitar is convenient
An acoustic guitar is possibly the most convenient instrument. There are few other instruments that can be transported so easily. You can move it from room to room in your house or you can take it camping or on holidays. You can use it to go out busking or jamming with friends. Try doing this with a piano or a tuba.
4. The guitar is an extremely versatile instrument.
The acoustic guitar can be used for impressive instrumental arrangements, as an accompaniment for singing, and even provide percussive elements. You cannot do all that with a violin, a keyboard or an accordion. Even with an electric guitar, you can carry a small battery amp and plug in backing tracks, drum parts, etc. using your mobile phone. Furthermore, modern guitarists are still finding new and wonderful ways to get unique sounds from their instrument.
5. Playing guitar can be social
While many beginning players simply want to strum along or play their favourite songs in the comfort and privacy of their own home, there is much to be said about the social component of jamming with other musicians when you feel confident enough to explore these options.
Making music together enlivens and enriches almost any social gathering and musicians are often some of the most friendly and supportive people to associate with.
The great thing about this is that you can do it at whatever level you want, whether it is sitting in at a local jam, getting together with some friends who play, or finding likeminded musicians on online forums or through classified ads.
6. Playing guitar is sustainable
Unlike sports, which are typically played by younger people and not continued throughout adulthood, playing a musical instrument is comparatively low risk in terms of injury and relatively non demanding of your body. Some instruments, such as wind instruments, for example, have a narrow window of opportunity, because they do command a somewhat intense use of your body. However, you can learn to play guitar at any age and you can continue to make music for the rest of your life!
7. Playing guitar can lead to great opportunities
When I was about 17, I was spending an inordinate amount of time trying to clock Mario Brothers for the second time on my Nintendo. I remember my guitar was sitting behind me on my bed. Something clicked in my mind and I quit computer games forever in that moment. I knew somewhere deep in my mind, that if I invested this time into my guitar playing, instead of wasting it on other addictive but fruitless activities, then I would thank myself for it later in life.
Thanks, Nick. I’m really glad you made that choice, all those years ago.
These days, my job is to help people learn to play guitar. I get to hang out with amazing fledgling musicians each day, who are learning how to play riffs and chord progressions, or fingerpick beautiful music, or put chords to their own songs, or overcome the fear and doubt associated with the idea of putting themselves out there on the stage or in creating their online channel. When I’m not teaching, I’m learning and applying business strategies, or creating learning materials or playing guitar myself. It’s a pretty awesome way to spend my life.
I’m not saying that you should become a guitar teacher, unless you feel it is your calling, in which case you should come and teach at Australian Guitar Academy. But I’m inviting you to consider all the fantastic opportunities that may wait in store for you when you decide to prioritise your guitar playing over other, possibly addictive and fruitless activities that may be consuming your time.
8. Playing guitar is great for your mental health
You only need to search online for the “benefits of playing a musical instrument” and you will find an overwhelming amount of reference material expounding the amazing effects that playing an instrument can have in terms of enhancing problem solving abilities, increasing patience and peace of mind, among a slew of other benefits.
For youngsters, learning a musical instrument can foster healthy brain development. For seniors, playing an instrument can retrain and remap neural circuits that may otherwise atrophy. Playing a musical instrument is also said to induce a meditative state which releases positive hormones in the brain that help reduce the stress hormone Cortisol.
When you learn a musical instrument it also increases your self-esteem, in having set your mind to acquiring a masterful skill and having succeeded in doing so. This applies to any musical instrument, but perhaps even more so for guitar, given that it is not the simplest of instruments to choose from.
9. Playing guitar is great for your intellectual development
Learning a musical instrument is also said to enhance cognitive development and be predictive of academic skills and IQ. Benefits include increased memory and focus, enhanced reading, verbal and general reasoning abilities, problem solving skills and executive functions such as flexible thinking, self-control, handling emotions and following directions.
10. Learning to commit to your guitar playing goals transfers to the rest of life
Research shows that a large percentage of people who start learning guitar have quit within the first three months. Of those who make it past three months, a large percentage of those have quit within one year. Guitar manufacturers are investing heavily into working out why this is the case. The main reasons they have discovered are 1) a lack of free time, and 2) the long process associated with acquiring a new skill, and 3) a perceived difference between the results they are making and the results they think they should be making.
While these guitar manufacturers are attempting to create solutions such as online platforms and learning apps, I would rather help you see that if you are really serious about acquiring a skill then you better decide that you are going to do it and then do it. Otherwise, you will be looking for band aid solutions to all your problems in life and achieving nothing of significance.
If, on the other hand, you can decide that you are going to do something and that nothing is going to stop you, then you can to do anything.
11. Learning guitar will teach you the value of a good teacher
I am not saying all this because I feel threatened by these apps and online learning portals. They have their place and there is nothing wrong with independent learning. In fact, I actually encourage my students to learn independently by applying the techniques, skills, concepts and understandings that I teach them. However, I regularly meet new students who have tried all these online lessons and apps and who are extremely frustrated because they know that they are forming sloppy techniques and developing bad habits that the apps cannot address.
If you are really serious about learning guitar, and you want to bypass the trial and error approach of trying to teach yourself and the frustration of learning from sources that cannot and will not address these technical issues, the then you should get a teacher.
But hey, don’t take my word for it. Spend six months learning from an app or online portal if you want, then come in to Australian Guitar Academy and see what we can do for you within thirty minutes of walking through our door. You will wish you’d made this decision earlier.
When you’re well and truly ready to succeed, call Nick on 33443468 to book a free consultation session where we can meet and greet, clarify your long, medium and short term goals and show you how we can help you get more out of your playing and experience the true joy of learning that comes from consistent progress.