You should never be deterred from learning a new skill. Fresh skills and good habits can be mastered at any age.
My name is Lee and I’ve been playing guitar for over 25 years. It came about purely through needing an escape from my frantic life.
Playing guitar for me is certainly a form of meditation. I couldn’t be without it.
Let’s look at very simple ways to get you playing guitar, starting with the benefits.
There are so many benefits to learning to play the guitar. Among those you may not know about are:
- You’ll enjoy increased mental focus – just learning to press the strings properly and change chord shapes is an exercise in concentration! It’s a form of meditation for sure.
- A good way to relieve stress – the stresses of work, family, bills and deadlines are all things that can be eliminated by playing guitar. You can re-string your brain by learning a new skill. The cognitive benefits teach you to switch off parts of the brain and fully concentrate on playing. It’s scientifically proven.
- Your creativity will increase – Creativity is good for the heart and soul. Unlock this and you’ll be surprised with what you’re capable of. Once you learn 5 basic chords you open a whole new world of possibilities.
- It’s a social activity – you can meet like-minded people, or learn with others at your local community guitar center. The emotional benefits are paramount. Performing in front of your friends can bring a huge boost in confidence.
- It’s inexpensive – you don’t need a lot of money to buy a guitar, even just borrowing one is free!
- The guitar is portable – not too heavy or bulky so it can fit in a car, on a bus, or train to take with you for a weekend away.
- Health Benefits– It’s good for the mind and body. Regular practice has been shown to reduce the risk of depression, heart disease, arthritis, and osteoporosis.
When people hit their fifties and sixties, they often think that life is starting to slow down. However, if you’re willing to put in just a few hours of work each week, then you can learn a brand new skill that you can use for the rest of your life.
The guitar is a very rewarding instrument to learn to play, and many experienced musicians will tell you that it’s one of the easiest instruments to master.
How To Learn A New Skill/New Habits
It goes without saying, You’ll only follow through with new habits if you enjoy doing it.
I’ve been playing guitar for 25 years, and in the beginning, any new habit can be tough. These are 3 important but simple steps that worked for me:
1- The Cue
Becoming a master of anything is a long, arduous process. But if you have the motivation and proper guidance, anyone can achieve it in small steps. Making this possible requires work and sacrifice. It’s not going to come right away or overnight. You need patience and diligence for this new skill or habit that you want to learn.
My Cue Tip: If you’re reading this, you’re already creating the cue. Look for a suitable guitar, search for a guitar tutor.
2- The Action
Don’t overwhelm yourself. Trying to remove an old habit and adopt a new one at the same time, will only create confusion and stress. It’s best to focus on one habit at a time so you can dedicate all your energy to building it up.
My Action Tip: Take some action! borrow a guitar, buy a guitar, book a tutor. Many people don’t make it past stage 2. When you pass this stage you’ll already feel like you’ve achieved something.
3- The Reward
The main thing about developing a new habit is to reward yourself when you’ve achieved it.
If you don’t, really it’s not going to stick by itself. The feeling of achievement after completing your goal will help motivate you to continue doing what you are doing. Reward your brain.
You’ve now created a new habit. Now keep it in check
5 Essential Beginner Tips
Set Up Easy Goals To Start
Rather than set yourself up for failure, start with easy goals that are very achievable.
An Easy Goal: Learn to hold the guitar in the correct position so it’s comfortable. Get a feel for it. Hold the pick (plectrum) in the thumb and index finger.
Break Your Task Down. Keep The Tasks EASY!
You’ve set an easy goal. Now break something down into actionable pieces or tasks that you can do.
Learn an E minor shape.
Memorize the finger positions, the notes, and which strings you’re going to strum.
Prepare Your Practice Schedule
Get a calendar and write down which days you’re going to practice. Again, keep it simple at first, 30 mins a day is fine.
Visual reminders are some of the best ways to subconsciously act on something.
I have three guitars. One acoustic guitar is in my office beside me now. One electric guitar in the lounge next to my amp, and one next to my sofa I watch tv from.
This way I’m constantly giving myself a visual reminder that I need to play.
Set up your guitar where you can see it. You’re much more likely to play it that way.
Never Miss Your Practice Twice!
You’re going to get fed up and make a mess of practice time. Everybody does. But do not miss two scheduled practice times as it’s very likely you’ll unlock your good habit.
Missing one session is normal. In some instances, it’s good to take a break, but the golden rule is never to miss two in a row.
Emotional Reward Over Willpower Is The Key
It doesn’t matter how much willpower you put in, if you don’t emotionally reward yourself, you will get bored.
Many people think they can keep doing the same thing and get better over time. It doesn’t work like that, especially with music.
If you treat music as a physical or mental exercise, it’ll become soulless and boring. Having skill on the guitar is an advantage in life, but if you’re not making a connection with yourself, it’s useless.
When you embark on your musical journey, there is no destination. You want to learn as much as you can because it’s fun and makes you happy.
I’ve now come to the stage where I’m addicted to playing. If I hear a section of guitar playing I like, I then go off and learn it. It brings me so much pleasure.
I’ll never stop learning and It’ll never not feel good.
What Route To Take Playing Guitar
What Guitar Should I Choose?
There are 3 main guitars to choose from. Electric, Acoustic, or Nylon String Classical.
The answer to this question is very subjective and comes down to how much you can handle musically.
An Acoustic Guitar has steel strings and a narrow neck. Starting with ‘very light’ strings on an acoustic in my opinion is the best way to start.
Classical Guitars can be harder to play since the neck of the classical has a wider curve on it that makes it harder to play. But the nylon strings are easier to play with if you have issues with your hands or fingers.
Classical guitars are also very light and affordable if you’re on a budget.
Electric Guitars can be easier than acoustic or classical guitars because the strings of an electric guitar are closer (in most cases). This is due to how close the strings on an electric guitar are to the frets underneath them.
My only issue with electric guitars is 1) You need an amp and a lead. 2) People end up just making too much noise without actually learning the instrument properly first.
I would say an electric guitar is a good idea after you’ve learned the basics of an acoustic guitar.
The question you should really be asking yourself is not what’s easiest but what is the best type of guitar for YOU to learn with.
No one can tell you what sort of guitar is right for you but you. The only way to get an answer on this is to go out and play every instrument that you are interested in playing. Before deciding on purchasing an instrument, play it several times if possible before buying it.
Don’t underestimate the power of being comfortable. If you feel at ease with your guitar, you’re more likely to want to play it.
Try to follow my new habit process in 3 steps. Get yourself a low-priced guitar and just see how it feels in your lap.
It can get really addictive once you’ve learned a few songs you love.
If I can convert one person from this article, I’ve succeeded!
Let me know how you get on.