Why Play Guitar?
As a full-time guitar instructor, I am constantly faced with
people in all walks of life who, for all different kinds of
reasons, believe that playing the guitar will add something to
their lives. Most people that are just starting the guitar for
the first time are young (pre-university) although certainly not
all. One of my favorite students last year was a 65-year-old
retiree who wanted to learn enough to be able to start a bar
band with his friends.
There is no ďoneĒ reason to play the guitar. This instrument can
bring joy to everyone regardless of their primary motivations
for taking it up. Thereís no such thing as being too old or too
musically inexperienced for the guitar either. Neither the
Beatles or Jimi Hendrix could read music, and I think most would
agree that they did all right without it.
Many guitarists will ask me, after their first lesson, how long
it will take them to become good at the guitar. Iíve never been
able to answer this question. No one can. Your success or
failure in playing the guitar depends completely on the effort
that you put into it. One of my favorite stories is about Eddie
Van Halen: he would come home after school and pick up his
guitar. He would sit at the edge of his bed and play until he
had to go to sleep. Not once, not every once and a while: every
day. Of course, most of us donít have the luxury of this much
time to practice, but this story helps to illustrate that
success isnít completely dependant on some inborn talent, but on
hard work. Thereís no easy way into it. Please, whatever you do,
donít take up the guitar if you are only going to practice the
last hour before your lesson. Youíll just annoy me and youíll
never get any better.
Remember, if you go to an instructor or you take lessons online
or from a book, what you learn is, for the most part, up to you.
Youíre the one hiring the teacher and, although youíre putting
yourself under their direction, itís your responsibility to
inform them as to where you want to go. Find a teacher who will
help you succeed in the style of music that you want to go into.
So, why play the guitar? There isnít a day that I donít wake up
and am glad that music is such a big part of my life. Music has
brought me more happiness than almost anything else. When you
accomplish something, the sense of success becomes real, whether
youíve recorded your first song, or finally learned to play all
the chords to ďSmoke on the WaterĒ. Playing music, like any
other art form or skill, greatly enriches those who study it.