I first learned to play guitar at 14 years old, a few decades ago. I loved it and loved learning as much as I could about it. I practiced every day and got pretty good. But then, I went to college and university to study business and my guitar passion waned. I got married and started a busy career in another city so for quite a few years, my guitar playing plateaued.
In my early forties, by chance, I saw an ad in the window of a music store for guitar lessons. Against the advice of my wife, I signed up. I haven’t been the same since. Those lessons reignited my passion for playing guitar that continues to this day, well into my fifties, with no signs of abating. I’ve taken many more lessons since and try to catch up with online guitar learning as much as I can.
Why do I love playing guitar so much? I just love the sound of the guitar. The vibrations against my chest as I pound out tunes on my acoustic. The scratchy thrashing of my VOX AC 15 when I wail away on my electric. And the thump of my Markbass 2 x 10 pulsating through my body as I pluck my bass. I love the ache in my hands after jamming for 3 or 4 hours. The hurts-so-good (sorry Mr. Mellencamp) feeling in my fingertips as I play any of my guitars. It’s truly a visceral experience. It’s also aural, visual, physical, emotional, and cerebral at the same time.
Reason # 1 – It’s Really, Really Fun
What better reason to do something and to keep doing something than for the simple fact that it brings me immense joy? There are definite benefits to having fun because “all work and no play makes (Frank) a dull boy.”
Reason # 2 – It Gives Me a Tremendous Sense of Accomplishment
Self-esteem matters. Accomplishing something challenging is a great way to boost self-esteem. The accomplishment comes from mastering a challenging song. It also comes from being able to successfully play with my band-mates. And comes from incremental improvements that are the result of hours of consistent practice.
Reason # 3 – Comradery
Playing guitar allows me to meet all kinds of interesting people and form new friendships. I have been friends with may of my guitar-playing brethren for many years. And not just guitar players, with other musicians as well. Humans are social animals and social bonding is incredibly important for your mental well-being, which of course has a direct impact on your physical well-being.
Reason # 4 – It Teaches Me Life Lessons
Especially, playing live and playing in a band. Playing live has taught me the importance of connecting with my audience and has helped me overcome my lifelong shyness. Performing live has taught me the importance of proper annunciation and physical comportment. Playing in bands has taught me to be more of a team player, something that I sometimes struggle with. It has also taught me to check my ego and not be so self-absorbed.
Reason # 5 – Stress Relief
When I’ve had a bad day, playing guitar helps me forget what’s gone wrong by focusing all of my attention on my guitar. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of switching the stress from my job to my guitar because, as anyone who is a serious player knows, trying to accomplish something on the guitar can itself be a source of stress. Like the adage goes – choose your pain. Sometimes changing your source of stress will help solve your issues.
In the end, having a hobby that is fully immersive and engrossing will help you be a more well-rounded person, whatever that hobby may be. Nobody is one dimensional and we all need to fill out the edges. Maybe it’s my Quebec upbringing but I work to live and do not live to work. I need multiple sources of inspiration. For me, it’s obviously guitar and writing but I also love photography and videography.