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Benefits of Playing the Guitar!

Benefits of Playing the Guitar!

Learning to play the guitar, or any instrument for that matter can be as challenging as it is rewarding. But did you know that the effort you make to learn the guitar – whether you master it or not – can have positive long-lasting benefits that last a lifetime? Moms and dads listen up to the benefits of playing the guitar!

Guitar on the Brain

About six months ago my buddy Jack, quite a skilled guitarist in his own right, sent me a link to an article about the positive impact playing music can have on our minds. I was at work at the time so I only had a few seconds to scan it before I put it away for later. Well sadly later never came because I couldn’t find the link, or it had expired or something.

However, just the other day I came across another article that really impressed on me the benefits of playing the guitar. The article details why being a musician (or I will interject ‘trying to be a musician) is really good for your brain – even better than playing brain game apps.

The name of the article is “The Benefits of Playing Music Help Your Brain More Than Any Other Activity“. It is credited to John Rampton and was published on August 21, 2017, in Inc. Truth be told, to this point in my life I don’t think I had ever heard of John Rampton, and I read Inc. only on occasion.  However, those two forces came together to enlighten me with this intriguing brain fuel so I am giving credit where credit is due.

Although Rampton’s Inc article is not instrument-specific, I interpret it through a guitar enthusiast’s point of view. Let me share some observations from a section of the article that explains ways learning to play a musical instrument rejuvenates the human brain.

Playing guitar feeds the brain

One way to feed to the brain is by providing wholesome sensory input. But your cranium also needs physical food in the form of blood flow. One thing I find is that I am always learning something new when I play the guitar. It’s good to set a time and have a specific goal in mind for that time. Maybe try a new chord or a different chord progression. If your new how about starting with some warm-up exercises. Practice tapping techniques, or hammer-on/pull-offs. Every time you concentrate on learning something new, or just improving what you have already learned you are putting your brain to work and getting the blood flowing in your brain. Yep, that’s another benefit of playing the guitar.

Multitasking

Now I know there are theories out there about the folly of multitasking and I’m not here to try to debunk them. In fact, sometimes I feel like I’m losing my mind trying to do so many different things at once. At my day job, I’ll be on a conference call, responding to an IM, testing a program, sending an email, and answering an unrelated question for someone who shows up at my desk all at the same time. That’s multitasking but not the good kind. It is counterproductive and makes my brain hurt.

The benefit of playing guitar is that you multitask in a holistic and productive way. Your left-hand travels the fingerboard to find the right frets for your fingers to form the chords or notes while the right-hand strums or picks the specific strings with the right touch to bring the sounds to your ears. Your ears work with your brain to determine whether your hands are doing the right things at the right time. Speaking of time, your foot it tapping to keep the beat and right timing – and you probably didn’t even notice it. There are so many other things going on all at the same time working in concert (see what I did there?) for a united purpose of making music. And at the same time sharpening your productive multisensory skills.

Stress reduction – another benefit of playing the guitar

Have you ever heard of Music Therapy? Even if you haven’t heard of it you’ve likely experienced it to some small degree. Playing music has the ability to boost your mood which can have a positive domino effect on stress and anxiety levels. Some inpatient behavioral health facilities keep instruments including guitars available to help comfort, soothe, and redirect people. some even say playing the guitar helps them practice mindfulness. Pretty cool, huh?

Improves social skills

I find that playing the guitar helps bring people together. My wife has always supported my love for “playing” but she was never really interested in learning to play the guitar herself. It just wasn’t her thing. But after many years to my shock and utter delight, she decided she wanted to learn. In the year and a half she’s been playing, we’ve been able to connect in a new way. I know, you’re thinking ‘well you’re married I’d hope you would have connected!’ Point taken, but this is yet another thing we have in common to strengthen the bond between us.

Another example: one day my wife told some friends of ours about how I was “teaching” her the guitar. The next thing I knew our two friends wanted to join in on the lessons. Just like that, the Friday Night Guitar Club was born. At one point there were as many as 6 of us in our small living room ages 22 to 70 learning the guitar. With five new guitarists of varying ages and musical tastes, you’d think there’s no way it would work. And musically it really doesn’t all of the time. But the point is we enjoy getting together. They enjoy getting out of the house and challenging themselves to learn something new. If it sounds good well then that’s just icing on the cake. And although I am more accomplished than the “students” (barely more accomplished) I just get a kick out of them learning the benefits of playing guitar.

Playing the guitar can improve social skills

Conclusion

In my estimation John Rampton’s article “The Benefits of Playing Music Help Your Brain More Than Any Other Activity” is spot-on. I read it through the eyes of a person who absolutely loves all things guitar. But whether your interest is to learn guitar, piano, tuba, zither, flute, drums, washboard, kazoo – what’s stopping you? Go ahead and challenge your brain! You might make some beautiful music in the process. And even if you don’t … playing musical instruments will do your brain some good!

Also, see my previous post Why I Love Playing the Guitar.

20 Comments

  1. Hi there
    Great article. I tried to learn the guitar years ago but just never quite got the hang of it. I like your drawing attention to the fact that music effects our moods and I totally agree. Very well written post. I read it almost with out thinking about it. Great job.

    Thanks Rick

    • Hi Rick! there are a lot of sites that will help you learn the basics of guitar. I recommend Guitar Tricks. Check out a free 14 day trial!

  2. Hello,

    I agree with the stress relief point, I also hear of many people using music therapy, so I can see that growing in popularity yet! I just have to learn how to play now and I’ll be sorted. It’s also a great way to detach for technology, I feel we’re all too consumed with it these days!

    Sharon

  3. Hey, nice post, I really like it even if I have never played the guitar but it would be a great idea to start especially this period when I have a lot of time. I am surprised that it can improve your social skills but now I think that you can hang out with more people and play together. It would be great.

    Codrut.

  4. I mainly listen to Drum And Bass, so the instrument for that is a laptop – but I do agree with the point you make about the link between playing music and the brain. Human beings have a need to be creative on some level, and expressing that through music is a powerful way to do it.

    • Hey music is music, right? As long as you start the creative process you get the benefits.

  5. Hi there and thanks for this great post,
    music is certainly something that improves brain function. So many studies have been done that show a clear link between learning a musical instrument and superior performance in academic settings.
    I am looking to get my little boy into learning classical guitar; as a violinist myself, I really hope that he will develop the same love of music that I have.

    • Hello there and thanks so much for leaving your thoughts.

      You’re a violinist? I have nothing but respect for your craft. I have no idea how you are able to find the right notes without frets, it must take loads of talent along with practice and muscle memory. I’m sure your brain is on fire – in a good way.

      I’m not sure how old your son is but starting him off early is a great idea, as I’m sure you know. One thing to keep in mind about classical guitars is that the neck and fretboard are wider than the traditional acoustic guitar. So if he has small hands it might be a little challenging at first. Just look for a child-size classical guitar and you will avoid this altogether.

  6. Loved your article. So on point. I taught myself how to play over 40 years ago. Although I don’t read music, I can hear or play by the thought in my brain. I agree it is “food for the brain” and mega benefits at social gatherings. I’m always a hit. Keep on writing and Playing–you write about some great benefiits.

    • Hey, thanks for the comments. You don’t read music? Neither do I … but neither does McCartney or Stevie Wonder for that matter. I’m glad you enjoyed the article.

      Best,

      Rob

  7. Hi, I fully agree with what you wrote. I played guitar when I was younger with friends. It is really beautiful, it puts everyone in attention. It brings out of the routine and rests you mentally. Nice job

  8. You know I never thought of taking a guitar class until this article. I really overlooked it but playing the guitar really does bring people together and probably is good for attracting women… I loved this article, Thank you. Keep em’ coming!

  9. You know, I always wanted to learn guitar, and I even have a guitar sitting about 10 feet from me. Brand new, never been played.

    I never could bring myself to learn because I felt that it would just waste my time, especially since I don’t have a good voice to go along with the music. But this article has opened my eyes to actual benefits that could improve quality of life for me, and those around me.

    Stress reduction and feeding the brain are two that really stick out to me. I suppose I’d better pick up the guitar and finally learn how to play. Grind through the beginning, and things will begin to pick up smoother. Thank you.

    • Hey Alex,
      By all means, pick up that guitar and give it a try. There are a ton of places online that will show you how to tune it and take lessons. If after a while you don’t like it – no problem. just send the guitar to me 🙂

  10. Hey Rob,
    I’ve felt the mood boosting power of listening to music that connects with my heart, but you paint an even more powerful picture of tactile engagement. I feel ready to go out and get me a guitar. Is there a way to assess how long it would take to gain those benefits, if you’ve never played an instrument before?

    I really enjoyed reading your article, instantly reminded me of Nora Jones and Lauryn Hill. Thanks.

    • Uh oh, did you say Nora Jones and Lauryn Hill in the same sentence? You’ve already got fantastic musical insights!

      I can’t honestly tell you how long it might take to gain all of the benefits. Rampton’s article quotes a lot of research and professionals. But I do know this, what you get out of it has a lot to do with your mindset, realistic expectations, determination and effort you put into it. By all means, if you think you might like the guitar go ahead and pick one up. Be realistic with your initial expectations and give it a try. You will likely start improving your brain without even noticing it!

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