“You don't need any brains to listen to music.” - Luciano Pavarotti
That said, music can work wonders for your brain. Music can influence your perception of effort. A study by Southern Connecticut State University showed that basketball players who ran listening to music ran 5 minutes longer than those who didn’t (at 85 to 90% of their maximum heart rate ).
Thus, if listening to music can come with such benefits, surely playing the guitar can, too. It doesn't matter whether you learn guitar on your own, with a guitar teacher, or on a guitar course.
In this article, we’re going to look at the benefits of playing the guitar in music lessons or teaching yourself how to play the guitar.
Playing the Guitar to Improve Your Memory
Whatever style of music you choose, whether you play electric guitar or acoustic guitar, one thing’s for certain: you’re going to have to learn some guitar techniques.
When you first start learning guitar, these techniques might include barre chords, chord progressions, pentatonic scales, arpeggios, and rhythm.
Guitar lessons for beginners can include specialised lessons for blues guitar, rock guitar, or classical guitar. Additionally, you'll learn about fingerpicking, basic guitar chords, fretting, and how to tune your guitar.
Playing the guitar is a great way to stimulate your brain and your memory and beginners can start seeing the benefits from the moment they start playing a few melodies, licks, or a common guitar chord.
All types of memory are engaged:
- Episodic Memory: when you listen to a song, it reminds you of another memory, of a person, or a specific time and place.
- Semantic Memory: you’ll develop knowledge-based memories of a particular topic, in this case, the guitar.
- Perceptual Memory: that which remembers what your senses experienced.
- Procedural Memory: this is the memory that remembers skills like how to read tablature, music theory, or tuning a guitar, for example.
- Working Memory: this is the part of memory which provides necessary information in order to complete certain tasks.
When you learn to play guitar, you’ll also learn how to concentrate for longer. Thus, your concentration skills will be developed. In fact, when you practise a musical instrument, you need to fully concentrate on it. You can’t stop every 5 minutes to check your Facebook, read an email, or call a friend.
You need a certain degree of discipline and you’ll soon be able to concentrate for a couple of hours without any problems. It’s great for when it comes to playing the guitar but also for your professional life. The more you can concentrate, the more quickly you’ll remember and the more you’ll remember. This will make learning much easier, resulting in more self-confidence and allowing you to work more effectively.
The brain is an important muscle that we rarely flex. Just like any other muscle in our body, it needs regular training in order to remain effective. This is beneficial for children and teenagers, of course, but it’s also beneficial for adults as working on your memory will decrease the effects of ageing and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s!
Another unsung benefit of playing the guitar is developing better listening skills: hearing rhythm and playing to a beat!
Getting Rid of Stress by Playing Guitar
Stress is far too common in the 21st Century. Nearly half of all workers are stressed.
It seems that nobody is safe. An annoying colleague, traffic on the way to work, a doctor’s appointment, there are so many sources of stress in the modern age. It almost seems inevitable.
You need to find a way to avoid and manage your stress as it can be detrimental to your health: heart problems, weight gain, trouble sleeping, etc. The guitar is a great remedy! Have a go at playing a Hendrix riff or playing some flamenco rhythms when you get in from work after a stressful day. It’ll feel like a weight is lifted. Thus, with less stress, your mood will improve and so will the quality of your sleep.
However, not all stress is bad. In fact, you’ll probably feel stressed before going on stage. This is the good type of stress. This will motivate you and encourage you to perform to the best of your abilities. Good stress is temporary and can help you achieve a goal: putting on a good show in this case. However, it can be exhausting and you’ll need to recover afterwards.
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Gaining Discipline by Learning to Play the Guitar
Unlike the piano where pressing the key will produce a nice sound, a budding guitarist needs to correctly press down on the fretboard and correctly strike the string in order to make a nice sound.
Just like the violin, there’s a tough learning curve at the beginning. However, by working a few minutes on it every day, you’ll soon start seeing results. You need to persevere and not give up after just two guitar lessons when you can’t immediately play what your guitar tutor showed you!
Sometimes you’ll feel like you’re stagnating but you can’t give up. Your brain needs time to assimilate new concepts and there are different stages of the learning process that you need to respect. You need to keep your objectives in mind and remain disciplined in order to get the right results!
Sometimes you just need someone else, like a private guitar tutor, to remind you of the progress you’re making. So why not look up guitar lessons and get started right away?
Or, if your guitar teacher says you're ready to, you could play guitar in a band: that takes discipline to a whole new level!
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Learning the Guitar for Fun
Like all musical instruments, it’s important that you enjoy yourself when playing the guitar. If you don’t get any enjoyment out of playing the guitar, I don’t see any reason to continue doing it.
Playing the guitar should cause your brain to secrete dopamine, the hormone that is produced when you do other enjoyable activities like meditation, exercise, or eating chocolate.
Need we say more?
Playing the guitar can also cause the release of the same endorphins that are produced when you do sport or enjoy certain activities that I won’t explicitly detail in this article.
Thus, playing the guitar can bring a lot of pleasure which should feed your determination for improving your guitar playing.
Endorphins are a stimulant for the body which acts similarly to a painkiller and also improves the body’s autoimmune response. Playing the guitar is therefore great for your physical and mental health. You can also increase your lung capacity by singing at the same time!
With all these free hormones floating about, you’ll boost your self-confidence. The more confidence you have, the more you’ll work at it, and the more you’ll improve.
Of all of the great reasons to play the guitar, this one has to be at the top of the list!
Expressing Your Emotions with the Guitar
“I write music with an exclamation point!” - Richard Wagner
Music is a great way to express your emotions. Whether you're sad, angry, or happy, the guitar will be your best friend.
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Similarly, the guitar can get rid of your daily stress and help you to express feelings that you can’t put into words.
A bit like when writers feel liberated by writing down their painful emotions onto paper, a musician will feel much more at ease having played a few notes to express what they’re feeling. Let your fingers freely roam the fretboard and let your guitar liberate your feelings. It’ll do you the world of good!
Composing music is also a great way to express your creativity by writing music exactly that expresses exactly how you feel. Don’t hesitate to grab your guitar whether you feel angry, sad, or joyous!
This expression might even make its way into your next live set!
Become a Guitarist to Improves Your Social Skills
Music is all about sharing. You share emotions with yourself, an audience, or other musicians.
As a member of a band or group, you can develop your empathy towards others and improve your communication with them.
In a group, everyone has a role to play and it’s important that each musician remain humble about their music and not get big-headed. Sharing music with other musicians can help forge strong friendships and is also a lot of fun.
Being in a group isn’t always a walk in the park, though. There will inevitably be tension and you’ll need to learn how to manage disagreements without hurting the other members of your band or splitting the group up. You’ll learn to be tolerant of others and respect the work that each musician is doing. You’ll learn to compromise, just like you have to in relationships.
Whether you're just interested in strumming a few power chords to some pop punk, practising some strumming patterns and basic chords, learning how to read guitar tabs, or becoming the next great guitar player, with all these great benefits, you should learn how to play guitar as soon as possible.