Learning to play guitar has a number of benefits, many of which most people might not expect.
These benefits can be physical, mental, and even spiritual. Today, we will go over some of the ones which I consider to be most important.
We live in a world of instant gratification and many of us seem unable to listen to songs that are longer than three minutes. It’s no wonder why we are bombarded with studies suggesting that our attention spans are shorter than ever.
Learning guitar can help us through this.
Learning to play guitar requires sitting for extended periods concentrating while attempting to improve. At first, it’s easy to be frustrated and want to put it down quickly. As time goes on, however, this process becomes easier and, suddenly, hours will seem like minutes and minutes like seconds. This newfound focus will then permeate other facets of everyday life.
Everyone needs some sort of outlet and playing guitar can be an incredibly cathartic experience. Music has a special way of putting our feelings into sounds and letting us release them into the void. Even as a hobbyist, there are few things more relaxing than getting home and playing. In that moment, all of our troubles dissipate and the only thing that matters is what’s coming out of the amp and guitar.
Of course, the same can be said for any instrument, or frankly, any art form. For me, though, nothing puts me in that place like guitar.
Refine aural skills.
We know that different music makes us feel different things. How exciting would it be to discover the ins and outs of why that happens? Learning an instrument also means learning how to listen. Different chord progressions, melodies, rhythms, and orchestrations can put us in foreign places or make us feel happy, sad, etc. Once you understand how these things work, you can access these sounds to evoke the desired emotions or feelings.
Few things are more important to the human psyche than healthy self-confidence. Our confidence is usually derived from our skills and accomplishments.
Learning to play guitar means setting goals, making a plan and following through. At times, as with anything, the progress can seem to plateau. Then, a few months or years pass, you look back, and you realize just how much of an improvement you have made.
This sort of thing can do wonders for your confidence in other areas of your life. When you understand that the process of getting better takes small steps over a long period of time, you learn to trust yourself and ignore the doubts in your head.
Learn how you learn things.
This is one of the most valuable things one of my college music theory professors taught me. Learning how you learn things is vital, and it applies to every single aspect of your life. Learning to play guitar is a good way to discover this.
Do you write things down? Are you more hands-on? Do you learn by listening? Are you a visual learner? All of these questions are answered the further along you go, and they benefit you in other areas of your life.
As mentioned previously, developing discipline through learning an instrument means you will learn how to set goals, make plans, and execute. This means holding yourself accountable and making sure you follow through on promises you have made to yourself. Learning an instrument requires us to have a schedule and avoid deviating from it to the best of our ability.
Learning your favorite songs.
How many times have you heard a song on the radio and really appreciated a certain section of it? You have probably even thought about what it might take to achieve that sound. Learning your favorite songs will probably be the most entertaining part of this process.
It also can’t hurt that you will be able to entertain guests at a party or perhaps even serenade a romantic interest.
Playing guitar requires coordination between your left and right hands as well as good hand-eye coordination. If you add singing to that mix, your brain is working pretty hard!
This, of course, is a good thing. Studies suggest that brain activity like this might help prevent degenerative brain disease. It also means improved dexterity which can carry over into the workplace and everyday tasks such as typing on a computer.
Expand your cultural awareness.
Learning music that has been influenced by different cultures can inspire us to learn a bit about their history. For example, the Moors occupied Spain for some time and, as a result, Spanish music is known to have influence from the middle east. Another good example is that of the influence of African music on many genres all over North and South America and the Caribbean islands. Jazz, blues, salsa, bossa nova, samba, etc. are all the result of African music being brought to the west.
The story of music tells the story of the world. As cultures move into new territories, they bring their music with them. Learning about these cultures not only helps us to gain a deeper understanding of the music, but it helps us to grow as people.
Meeting new people.
Perhaps the most rewarding and fulfilling thing about learning guitar is its ability to connect people across cultural and generational lines. Young guys learning to play jazz music can connect with senior citizens that used to play or simply love the music, people that speak different languages can jam together without knowing how to say a word to each other, and so on. It’s a really beautiful thing.
Sure, most of these can apply to different instruments and even other disciplines, but I find that music connects people on a level that I have not been able to find in other disciplines.
Everyone knows someone with a guitar, and most people have at least messed around playing a couple of chords. That should tell you a lot!
About the Author
Marc-Andre Seguin is the webmaster, “brains behind” and teacher on JazzGuitarLessons.net, the #1 online resource for learning how to play jazz guitar. He draws from his experience both as a professional jazz guitarist and professional jazz teacher to help thousands of people from all around the world learn the craft of jazz guitar.
Also published on Medium.