By Diana Sunshine
In our series, Active You, we’ve been on a mission to showcase the incredible benefits of staying active and learning new things. Not only is embracing new challenges invigorating, it’s also fantastic for your brain. Learning, in particular, is a crucial ingredient for nurturing neuroplasticity—the brain’s amazing ability to adapt and grow. And when it comes to a harmonious brain workout, few endeavors foster growth quite like learning to play a musical instrument.
Learning music is a great mental workout. It boosts your cognitive prowess, enhances your memory, improves your fine motor skills, sharpens your verbal and non-verbal reasoning, and overall, makes you a more capable and confident individual. And, it’s always possible to learn to play an instrument, no matter your age.
With all the choices of which musical instrument to choose from, I’m here to inspire you to try learning to play guitar. Here’s just a few reasons why:
- Portability: Your guitar is easy to carry around and store in your home.
- Affordability: Unlike some instruments, a good-quality guitar is reasonably priced.
- Physical Ease: While some instruments demand substantial neck or upper arm strength, such as the violin or flute, the guitar is kinder to your muscles and joints. You can play sitting or standing.
- Musical Variety: The world of guitar offers a smorgasbord of styles to explore: classical, blues, folk, rock, and beyond. The possibilities are endless!
- Community: As your skills progress, you can join forces with fellow musicians, creating a harmonious community of musical enthusiasts.
When learning to play the guitar, there are three main parts to conquer: how to form the chords, how to learn to pluck and strum, and depending on your musical choice how to sing along. The true magic unfolds when you seamlessly combine all three, and while it may require practice, it’s a journey that’s profoundly rewarding. Now let’s break down the nitty gritty of learning to play guitar:
- Guitar and Accessories: Get a guitar and essential accessories like a pick and capo. You can rent before making a purchase. Take your time shopping; consider visiting a local retailer for a more personalized experience.
- Tuning: Learn how to tune your guitar. There are fantastic free apps available that make this process a breeze. I use ProGuitar Tuner.
- Chords: Dive into the world of chords and learn how to read them. It’s the foundation of your guitar adventure.
- Instructor: Hire a guitar instructor. You can find them in person or even connect remotely for lessons.
- Online Resources: Explore the wealth of online guitar lessons available on platforms like YouTube and dedicated guitar lesson websites.
- Practice, Practice, Practice: Consistent practice is the secret sauce to mastering the guitar.
Be sure to remember these tips:
- Keep your nails short.
- Expect some initial fingertip discomfort; it’ll fade as your fingertips develop calluses.
- Be patient with yourself.
From personal experience, I can vouch for the immense rewards of learning and practicing the guitar. I embarked on this musical journey in my 40s when my daughter started taking lessons at just five years old. The deep concentration, the focus, and the joy of creating music have brought me a profound sense of calm that’s simply unmatched. Over time, as my skills improved, so did my confidence and the sheer bliss of playing music.
So, pick up that guitar and let the music begin!
Diana Sunshine is the founder of Big Retired Life. She’s a mission-driven, community builder with 20+ years experience in EdTech, Fundraising, and Non-Profit management.
Throughout the “Active You” section of this blog, we will introduce you to ideas on staying active and learning new things.