Remember your New Year’s resolution to learn how to play guitar? And now it’s nearly May and the only thing you’ve mastered is the opening riff from Deep Purple’s “Smoke On The Water.” Every day you keep putting it off, thinking, “It will take too long, it’s too expensive.” Yet just by forming a 20-minute a day habit, you could be a virtuoso by next year.
Learning how to play a musical instrument is fun. Studies have all proved that it promotes cognitive stimulation, helps to release dopamine (a.k.a. “the pleasure chemical”) into the brain and can have all kinds of social benefits as well. There’s a reason that most people start playing an instrument in middle school when our minds are quick to adapt. While learning how top lay guitar can be harder as an adult when busy schedules and Netflix can get in the way, it’s not impossible.
If you do choose to forgo the lessons, there are plenty of resources online. Check out the highest rated YouTube tutorials for beginners, which have the additional benefit of being a complete visual/auditory experience. As a beginner, you are trying to train your ear and stretch your muscles. The initial stage of painful callouses and impossible to play chords can last anywhere from six months to several years (depending on how often you play). Studies have shown that it takes approximately 21 days to form a habit. By starting a regimen of 20-minutes of guitar practice a day with appropriate YouTube tutorials, instructional books or even a musical pal, soon it will begin to feel like second nature.
Just like exercise, you’ll begin to see results. Learning how to read tabs is like learning a new language. Memorizing scales, the seven basic guitar chords and the proper way to strum all takes time. However, once you start to put it all together, playing your favourite songs will become easier. Try playing along to the radio or a CD. As your ear starts to understand the proper tuning and the way notes and chords are supposed to sound, you’ll be able to pick apart any song you hear. You might even start writing your own music and form a band, instead of just playing covers.
You can’t become a masterful guitar player by constantly borrowing other’s people’s instruments. Owning your own guitar means that you can play any time you want and take it with you on vacation. When you practice on a well made and accurately tuned model, you’ll have a clearer idea of how you’re supposed to sound. While you don’t have to follow the rules all the time (Sonic Youth are famous for their bizarrely tuned guitars which give them that crazy, reverb-drenched sound), you do have to be familiar with the fundamentals.
Why not spend a day at a great music shop and see what instruments appeal to you? Head to a large supplier of classic guitar brands like Fender, Marshall and Gibson. Many of these manufacturers will have beginner’s models in the $300 to $600 range. Any cheaper and you run the risk of learning on an improperly tuned guitar. (You can shell out for a $6,000 Les Paul supreme once you’ve learned your blues scale.) The range of guitars from Long & McQuade are affordably priced and come with a one-year performance warranty. Purchasing your new axe from a great Canadian music chain such as this will ensure its value. Whether you choose to go electric or acoustic, you’ll be investing in a great learner’s model that can actually stand some wear and tear. So commit to the 20-minute a day rock out habit and stick with it. This could be the year you finally learn how to play guitar.