It’s Never Too Late to Learn Guitar
While there are many musicians that start learning the guitar at an early age, there are also many excellent guitar players who start out in their 30s, 40s and even 50s. Some even start later, and manage to do an amazing job anyway.
It’s not always right to start playing as a child, and learning guitar later has its benefits as well. Playing guitar isn’t about age or talent; it’s about passion, creativity and love for music. As an adult, you probably have the right motivation and more emotional baggage and life experience; all of this will impact your learning, playing and perhaps songwriting.
Learn the Basics
Learning the basic elements of guitar as soon as possible provides a good foundation for efficiently learning the instrument. Explore whether you want to play acoustic guitar or electric guitar and learn how they differ from one another. Learn how to change your guitar strings and how to tune them. Learn about general guitar maintenance and care, such as protecting your guitar from humidity. Finally, research the gear you need, such as amplifiers, picks and pedals.
Be sure to pick up the basic things you need, such as a tuner, picks and a capo, which allows you to play songs in any key easily by moving it up and down the fretboard.
Set Realistic Expectations
It’s ok to feel stiff and clumsy at first, but it doesn’t take long to acquire the motor skills you need to play. Untrained fingers take a while to get used to chord positions, so it’s perfectly normal for your playing to be slow at first.
Aim to practice daily and your speed will soon pick up. Expect very sore fingers at the beginning, due to the unusual pressure and movements you’re subjecting them to. This will eventually subside and your fingers will develop calluses to protect them as you learn guitar. Don’t be afraid to take a day off if the pain is too much to bear. Playing through the pain may sound like a rocker’s lifestyle but it’s definitely not recommended.
Practice, Practice Practice
The best guitarists practice for hours every day; talent can impact a guitarist’s ability, but it’s always practice that makes the difference. Good guitar playing doesn’t just happen; there’s a lot of work behind it. Aim to practice at least for 10 to 15 minutes every single day to build up your calluses and to help you feel more comfortable with your instrument. Practicing every day for a short time is much more effective than practising once a week for hours, as the learning process is not as effective.
Find a Good Teacher
The best way to learn guitar is through one-on-one lessons. Private lessons will give you extra motivation and also help you correct mistakes in technique and posture. Probably one of the best ways to find a teacher is by word of mouth, but you should also consider investigating music conservatories, as students who are getting close to their final degree often start teaching and are usually more inexpensive than experienced teachers.
Go for a teacher that suits your style. For example, if you want to learn jazz guitar, you should search for a teacher specialised in jazz rather than a rocker. It’s very hard to find a teacher that can do everything, so choose carefully. If you’re a complete beginner, style doesn’t matter enormously. The important thing is to find a teacher who will give you a good foundation so you can then move on to any other style.
Interview your prospective teachers but also go with your gut instinct; it’s important to find a teacher with whom you feel comfortable and at ease, as you will be expressing your emotions and feelings through music.
How often you take lessons depends on your schedule; in general, a weekly lesson is a good choice. However, if you have a very busy career, you’re in college full-time, you’re raising a family or in general you don’t have that much time to practice, you should opt for a lesson every two weeks. Remember that guitar lessons taken every three or four weeks will not be successful; lessons need to be closer together in order to be effective and stimulate learning.
Learning an Instrument Trains Your Brain
If you’re still on the fence about whether to start playing guitar or not, consider this: learning to play an instrument has been shown to be one of the most effective forms of brain training there is. It improves your cognitive performance and induces various changes in the brain, leading to an enhancement in verbal memory, spatial reasoning and literacy skills.
Learning to play the guitar is really not as complicated as it seems, and it can ultimately lead to a lot of fun and a number of other benefits on the side.
What are you still waiting for? Pick up your guitar and start learning today.
Courtesy of Sally Collins