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 “one” reason to play the guitar. This instrument can bring joy to everyone regardless of their primary motivations for taking it up. There’s 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. I’ve 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 don’t have the luxury of this much time to practice, but this story helps to illustrate that success isn’t completely dependant on some inborn talent, but on hard work. There’s no easy way into it. Please, whatever you do, don’t take up the guitar if you are only going to practice the last hour before your lesson. You’ll just annoy me and you’ll 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. You’re the one hiring the teacher and, although you’re putting yourself under their direction, it’s 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 isn’t a day that I don’t 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 you’ve recorded your first song, or finally learned to play all the chords to “Smoke on the Water”. Playing music, like any other art form or skill, greatly enriches those who study it.