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.
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.
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.