So, benefits of playing guitar. What can there possibly be besides having fun? Are there really other advantages to be had apart from what you’d expect from any hobby? Oh yes, much more than you think.
I would argue that guitarists, or musicians in general, are pretty cool and laid back. Not all of course, but many of them are. So in a broader sense, how come so many of them are seemingly pleasurable to be around? And how come so many guitarists come across as content? Not just with playing music, but also with dealing with the everyday stresses and pressures of life? Some of them even come across as nothing is a big deal at all. Like water off a duck’s back. Like everything just rolls their way.
For instance, take a look at interviews with Keith Richards or Eric Clapton, or with Eddie Van Halen or Jeff Beck. Or really any guitarist of your choice to be honest. They all seem very laid back, and they all seem like their personalities are very well balanced. Believe it or not, but there is a very strong possibility that this is connected to playing a musical instrument. Guitar to be precise.
So, let’s go over the amazing benefits, both mental and physical ones, that await you if you decide to grab a guitar and join us. Or maybe you already did? Anyway, let’s check them out!
So What Are The Benefits?
Let’s first take a look at how playing guitar could change you from within, and then move on to the more physical and tangible ones. These benefits could very well change the way you live your life, and the outlook you have on it.
Improves your memory
Straight out of the gate, here’s a great one! Researchers have found ( in a study done in school children), that playing guitar will enlarge the left side of the brain, and as a result helped students increase their memory capacity by 20 percent. This and many more brain-enhancing functions are also backed up by this report from University of Zurich.
Studies also show that playing guitar, or any musical instrument, helps your brain to stay more sharp and alert against the onslaught of old age. It also helps you to stay creative a lot longer. This has to do with the visualization involved in learning a musical instrument. For example, as a guitarist you visualize scale patterns, arpeggios and chords on the entire fretboard.
Increases your concentration
Playing guitar requires a lot of focus on many things at the same time, i.e hand coordination, timing, fingering, pitch and rhythm and so on. The more you practice the easier it will be to find the right level of concentration needed.
The result of this will be a greater attention span and the capability to concentrate at will. This means focusing will be a habit and will help you concentrate better on everyday chores as well.
Teaches you discipline
I guess this one doesn’t apply only to guitar, but to acquiring any complex skill over time. Bottom line is, getting good at guitar requires persistence and determination. Many people start playing guitar as a hobby, but quit as soon as they realize how much dedication is needed. It’s the easy (and lazy) way out, and you often hear “ Naah, it wasn’t for me, I didn’t have any talent”. Well, talent has very little to do with it, but having discipline has everything to do with it.
Making up your mind, and actually dedicating time for practice in order to build these skills will make you more disciplined, no doubt about it. And discipline, ladies and gents, is a hell of a skill to have for other things as well.
Provides a sense of accomplishment
There is no comparison to that feeling you get when your hard work pays off. When you can finally play along to your favorite song or fire off that solo you’ve been working on. It’s pure euphoria, and you’re so eager to conquer your next challenge that you almost fall over yourself. It feels like almost anything is possible, which segways wonderfully into the next paragraph.
Increases your confidence and self esteem
Yes, your confidence will soar after those first victories. You’ve cracked the code, and what to many seemed almost impossible really wasn’t. Realizing this fact, that nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it, opens many other doors in life.
The more your skills build, the more relaxed your playing gets, and the easier it’ll be to play with others. And of course to play in front of an audience. Now, being nervous before a gig is normal, stage fright is very common. However, being confident about your skills makes all the difference in the world.
A boosted confidence will change the way you approach almost every other thing in life. And will only continue to build as one thing leads to another.
Music therapy & and self expression
Being able to express emotions often helps overcome adversity. Playing guitar does that very well. In fact any kind of musical activity will do that, whether it be singing or playing other instruments. However, the guitar is a particularly expressive instrument. It has countless ways for making those notes come out, and that really speaks to our creative side.
Playing can therefore sometimes be likened to therapy, and many musicians play and create music as an emotional outlet to create more balance and harmony in their lives.
While expressing emotions is very important, it’s even better when paired with an increased flow of your creative juices. Yup, music is great for creativity. And creativity will for sure lend a helping hand in your busy life. Remember; creativity is an important element for finding new ways and solutions.
Playing guitar leads to an enhanced state of creativity. Sooner or later you’ll come up with your own lines, riffs and chord changes. And that ultimately leads to a desire to improvise and even write your own material. When this gear kicks in, your brain will apply what it’s learned in more areas than one.
Playing the guitar is fun!
While on the subject of therapy. Playing guitar is an incredible source of fun and joy, and releases a lot of dopamine into your body. In fact, a recent study shows that even listening to music will do that.
Dopamine, as you probably already know, is your body’s own “happy chemical”. It’s released into the brain when we feel super happy, when we’re eating awesome food, or are just roaring with laughter with friends.
If you suffer from anxiety then playing guitar is a hobby for you. Studies are now showing that increased levels of dopamine leads to a reduction in social anxieties, and possibly other anxiety disorders. These finds are quite new, and are very interesting indeed.
Yup, dopamine is great for stress relief. So if you were just hit with bad news, or had a bad day at work, grab your guitar and vanish into the world of riffing for a while. It will have a great calming effect. There was a study done about this by Applied Biosystems and the Mind Body and Wellness Center, and it shows that stress can be reduced on a cellular level from just playing guitar.
In other words; Playing guitar actually reverses your body’s chemical response to stress and pressure. How cool is that!
Develops social skills and team work
Yes, research done by the Michigan State University shows that people who are involved with music develop a better ability to process interpersonal skills and build better human relationships.
They found that high level musicians who had picked up an instrument at an early age, and continued honing their skills on that instrument into adulthood, had better skill sets for dealing with all kinds of things such as teamwork, innovation, starting their own businesses, building organizational skills. Pretty amazing stuff!
Also, as you embark on your guitar journey you’ll realize that interacting with like-minded people is very inspiring. Being in a band, showing up for open session jams or just hanging out on different forums online will be an amazing boost. Not just for your playing, but for you as a human being.
Improves your math performance
Who would have thought there was a correlation between playing music and hot rodding your mathematical abilities? I know, it blows my mind too.
Studies show that listening to music improves these skills. One in particular, done in 2012, showed that students who listened to music during a math test improved performance by as much as 40 percent. Read more here.
Now, as impressive as that is, you’ll be delighted to know that playing and performing music has an even greater effect. Why? Because essentially all music is math. It’s all about time signatures, beats per minute and all that good stuff. So keep rocking folks, life improvements are lining up for you!
Enhances your motor skills
As already mentioned, playing guitar is quite a complex activity. It involves your hands and fingers being forced to cooperate with each other in order to pluck all those strings while navigating the fretboard. With flawless timing no less. Not an easy task.
In time, your hands will be finely coordinated to perform these tasks with relative ease, providing you with improved motor skills and muscle memory. Hardly a bad thing.
Improves your multitasking
Without thinking about it, guitarists often perform multiple tasks simultaneously. We read music, finger chords, keep in time and listen intently to the music. All at once. Oh, and did I mention singing? Which also forces the brain to remember lyrics and keep track of pitch. These elements serve to rewire our brains to form better abilities to perform multitasking. An awesome skill that’ll serve you well in many aspects of life.
Becoming a better listener
In order to learn something other guitarists play we often listen very intently, over and over again, so that we can figure out what’s going on. Many guitarists also listen to their own recordings to find areas to improve on. Listening to and analyzing your own playing is a great way to become a better listener.
The end result is that we get better at hearing when timing is off, or when the pitch is out of tune. Or instinctively knowing which chords are being played. This gives us the ability to instantly play along to almost any song and tune our instruments by ear if needed.
Another great example of this is when you highlight to your not-so-musically-enthusiastic friends the plethora of things happening in a song. Like doubled guitar tracks, unusual base lines, ghost notes and back beats, changes in time signatures or the use of unusual instruments. They always have that look on their faces like you’ve just described a new dimension. All they heard was the lyrics.
It helps you play other instruments
All these great skills you’ve now improved on as a guitarist will make learning other musical instruments easier. The fact is you’ll find that many accomplished guitarists also play other instruments. I would even argue that learning more instruments will even make you a better guitar player.
Gives you a new appreciation for music
Once your guitar journey is under way, whether you’ve picked up other instruments on the way or not, you’ll notice something amazing. Or at least many guitarists do. Your appreciation for music will deepen. You will understand and appreciate music genres you previously weren’t into, and you’ll be inspired to broaden your horizon. This means tapping into new sounds and techniques, and also finding a new appreciation and respect for other instruments, and even lyrics and song writing. The world just got bigger!
Lowers blood pressure
This interesting piece of research from the Netherlands discovered that patients who practiced playing music for more than 1,5 hours every day showed a significant drop in blood pressure and a much more balanced heart rate than those who didn’t. Three of their test subjects were guitar players. Seems like a nice spin off from the stress reducing capabilities guitar playing have.
It is an attractive skill to have
Finally, there’s the benefit we all love to bask in. Playing guitar is a damn attractive skill to have! It’s just the way it is.
If you want to connect to others on a deeper level, and perhaps be a bit romantic, or simply impress “the one”, then learning the guitar is the way to go. Think campfires and the added ambience a guitarist brings as soon they start cranking out a few sing along tunes. Priceless!
Also, let’s not forget that it’s a skill that can make you money if you want to. Of course, you may not end up on the world stage along the greats, making millions. But most guitarists (when they reach a certain level) can make some sort of income. It could be busking in the streets, playing small venues with a local band, being a member of an orchestra or maybe doing solo shows in pubs or at weddings. Maybe you’re the next trailblazer on Spotify?
Not for everyone, I know, but certainly a possibility that comes from knowing how to play guitar.
By now I hope some of these benefits have tickled your curiosity and brought you closer to making a serious effort to learn the guitar. If you already have, then welcome to the greatest community on the planet. An excellent choice my friend!
To say that music has been beneficial in my life is the understatement of a century. My life would simply not be what it is today if playing music was taken out of the equation, especially guitar. In terms of joy and life benefits the guitar reigns supreme. Unless you overdo it and get injured…but that’s a different story altogether. Check out our article on Guitar Injuries if you wanna know more.