5 Reasons You Should Learn to Play Guitar
From Jimmy Page to Alex Hutchings, Larry Carlton to Andy James music history has seen a lot of great guitarists. However, you don’t have to play the guitar on the world’s stage to enjoy or benefit from it.
There’s no shortage of benefits when it comes to learning to play the guitar. From bettered brain activity to bragging rights, starting the guitar will be the best thing you’ve done in a long time. Here are six reasons to put aside your apprehensions and kick off those lessons!
1. Stimulates the brain
Learning the guitar can seriously stimulate the brain. Not only can guitar-playing improve your memory and concentration, but it will also enhance your spatial reasoning and make you better at multitasking. What with reading music or tab, developing a musical ear, and remembering those new patterns and chord shapes, your mind will love the challenge you’ve set.
2. Improves health
For those of you that may have anxiety and other stress related illnesses, research has indicated that playing an instrument can actually lower blood pressure.
Many first-time guitar players compare playing music to a form of therapy and consider it a way to “reset” mentally. Playing the guitar allows you to forget about “real life” for a while. You’re able to focus fully on learning your chords and arranging them into music. Before you know it, you’ll be the most chilled out you’ve been in weeks, months, maybe even years.
3. Boosts creativity
Get out of robot-worker mode and exercise your creativity through playing the guitar. Even if you don’t consider yourself a typically creative person, music may be precisely the outlet that suits your kind of imagination. Whether you’re writing a new song, mastering an old classic or taking on a Masterclass, there’s space for innovation at every turn.
4. Another source of income
If you work hard and have a natural knack for the guitar, then you could reach a stage at which you’re able to actually sell your talent.
A great way to get started as a professional musician is to play at events such as weddings, school proms, and birthday celebrations. The first gig is always the trickiest to land, but getting booked once can have a domino effect. At the same time as you’re doing the event circuit, you might think about joining groups in your local neighbourhood. Often, these gigs don’t pay quite as well, but they’re great exposure and will give you a heap of great contacts.
5. Make yourself more interesting
Having the ability to just pick up and play a guitar when you’re socialising makes you look more interesting to the people around you. Picking up this hobby can give you a real edge when it comes to social events and interactions. Use your new talent to entertain family, friends, or work colleagues. You’ll radiate self-confidence and a passion for music. People love well-rounded, surprising people, and taking up the guitar will make you just that.
Harper is an avid freelance writer residing in Auckland, New Zealand. In between writing and editing articles for blogs and sites such as About Giving, you’ll find her singing along to her favourite songs or learning to play the guitar. To discover more of her work, visit her personal blog: Harper Reid.
Tips For Learning Chord Progressions
Tips to Learn Chord Progressions - Marc-Andre Seguin
There are so many platforms these days with so much media and information that it is almost too much to handle. If you go on YouTube and you are looking at guitar videos, you will probably see any number of ads for apps or instructionals that claim to have the quintessential guitar method. These programs always target beginners, and while some of these might be really good, it can definitely get exhausting. I will not be making any claims like this, but I will share with you the way that I learned to play chord progressions and what worked - or did not work - for me. I will not be discussing much of the theory aspect of chords here, but I would suggest getting into that early in your playing career or you will be left trying to catch up and many things will seem confusing.
Before moving on, this article requires that you are able to read chord charts. It’s fairly simple. Basically, the diagram is read as if you are holding a guitar up with the fretboard facing you. Any markings are frets that you would play. A “0” above the string, means that string is played open. An “X” above the string means you do not play that string. Lastly, an arc or a thick black line over a set of strings means that you bar that set of strings by placing your finger across multiple strings.
Here’s an example with everything we just mentioned for reference:
Now that we understand how to read chord charts, let’s go ahead and discuss how we can approach chord progressions. In this article, I will mostly address chords belonging to the keys of G and C major. The shapes I will share with you today are open position chords, meaning they use open strings as well as the first few frets. To move these around to different keys, you will need what’s called a capo, which basically serves to move the nut around, so to speak. The good thing is that the shapes themselves don’t change!
First, let’s give you some chords to work with.
Before moving on to playing actual progressions, the most important thing is that you are able to get a good sound out of each chord. Make sure every note is audible as this is often the most difficult thing for beginners. At first, you will certainly be muting certain notes. This is just something you will have to work through in the beginning.
These are a few considerations with regard to getting a clear sound out of each note:
-POSTURE. Yes, like in school. Sit up straight. This will ensure that your hands don’t land in undesirable positions.
-Your grip should look like you are gripping a tennis ball. Try to avoid bending your DIP or fingertip joints and try to avoid pressing your palm up against the neck.
-You should be using the actual tips of your fingers to fret.
Once you feel like you’ve got a good sound out of each chord, it’s time to start trying to play them in succession. The best approach, in my opinion, is to take these in pairs then try to link them all together. Take the metronome, take the first two chords, and play them each four times to a metronome alternating between the two. Remember, take it SLOWLY. It’s important that you get a nice clean sound out of each note than it is to play it fast. I cannot stress enough how important this is. Lots of students come to me with bad habits and it is much more difficult to retrain than it is to learn correctly in the first place. Use the metronome and take it slowly. Additionally, a little bit each day goes a much longer way than trying to cram things into one session and not touching it for another week.
Assuming we play the chords in the order displayed above, your practice should look something like this:
G > C > G > C > G > C and so on…
C > Em > C > Em > C > Em
Em > Am > Em > Am > Em > Am
Then, you would link the first one back to the last one to begin the progression.
Am > G > Am > G and so on…
Once you feel comfortable making each of these transitions, you can go ahead and try the whole progression.
Play each chord four times with a metronome before moving on and then loop the progression.
G > C > Em > Am > G > C > Em > Am etc.
Now let’s add a few more chords in open position.
The F major, while it does not use any open strings, it is close enough to that part of the fretboard that we will group it with the rest of them.
Before moving on, I strongly recommend going over the theory that comes with chord construction and functional harmony. This will give you a better understanding of why chords move the way they do and how to create desired effects with specific progressions.
Now that we have got some more chords available to us, let’s come up with a few more progressions to give you some practice material.
G - Em - Am - D
C - Am - Dm - G
Em - C - G - D
Am - F - C - G
These progressions might sound very familiar. They have all been used to write thousands of songs - literally. As you practice them, take the same approach we discussed earlier. Take two chords at a time, slowly, and link them all together in the end. Doing things slowly and correctly is the key here. Not long after getting this stuff under your belt, you should go ahead and learn a bunch of songs. This is the best way, in my opinion, to see how songs and chord progressions are used to create different effects. The best way to advance in any trade or craft is to build upon what others have already done before you. This way, you will learn new shapes and new approaches as well as gain a better understanding of how certain concepts work.
Lastly, I encourage you to begin writing your own songs. The exploration involved with composing is far and away the most intrinsically rewarding part of playing music. The whole point of becoming proficient with progressions and really getting to know your instrument is so that you are able express yourself as fully and as honestly as possible.
About the Author
Marc-Andre Seguin is the webmaster, “brains behind” and teacher on JazzGuitarLessons.net, the #1 online resource for learning how to play jazz guitar. He draws from his experience both as a professional jazz guitarist and professional jazz teacher to help thousands of people from all around the world learn the craft of jazz guitar.