Have you ever wished to learn how to play a musical instrument? Chances are, if you don’t already dabble in music, you have fantasized about learning how to play. As a musician for 30 years I can tell you without a doubt that, though I may be biased, knowing how to play a musical instrument is everything you imagined it to be, and possibly more.
Of all the joys I have experienced in life, there is still nothing quite like the joy of making music. Playing an instrument is one of the few things that can be enjoyed in solitude, in company and in collaboration with others playing instruments. I can assure you, if you have even the slightest interest in playing an instrument, you will not regret the effort it takes to learn.
There are likely thousands of different instruments in the world one can learn to play and if one of these many choices strikes your fancy in particular, by all means pursue it. If you aren’t exactly certain what instrument you’d like to learn, might I suggest playing the guitar. Few other instruments are as ubiquitous as the guitar. They are easy to find when you’re looking to purchase your first guitar and they are available for very reasonable prices used or new. Sites like Craigslist are full of neglected guitars that need to go to good homes. Since the guitar is so commonly found from dorm rooms to middle aged men’s man-caves, there is a good possibility there will be one available at most any social gathering to pick up and entertain yourself and others present.
“Who wants to hear Wonderwall”?
“Yay!”, they’ll all scream with unbridled enthusiasm.
All jokes aside, the reason that joke is so relatable is a testament to the fact that practically anyone can learn to play the guitar. With most things one can learn in life, you can focus intensively on learning to play an instrument, and some instruments actually require a serious commitment to even begin to play something recognizable, but the guitar does not take much effort to learn. While playing like Eddie VanHalen is certainly something you can aspire to do, playing like Bob Dylan, John Lennon or even Green Day can be just as enjoyable and much more attainable with minimal effort.
Imagine if the first time you fantasized about learning to play an instrument you actually took the very low effort approach of learning how to play one chord on the guitar a week. I bet by now you would be quite an accomplished musician! Even one chord a month would have you playing most any song from any popular songbook within a year!
There are only seven chords you need concern yourself with in the beginning (A,B,C,D,E,F and G) and the possibilities after learning both the “major” and “minor” variations of these chords is practically endless! So call it fourteen months with the very low effort of learning one chord a month, with the first milestone being after month three! That’s right, If you learn “G”, “C” and “D” in your first three months you are already rocking out to Sweet Home Alabama (or Werewolves of London), a ton of Bob Dylan songs and several Beatles tunes as well, just to name a few. Learn the “F” Chord, major and minor, in month 4 and 5 and you are on your way to playing just about any song ever. That’s because that same chord fingering can be used up and down the entire neck of the guitar! Move that “F” chord up two frets and you’re playing a variation of the “G” chord. Move it up two frets again and you’re playing “A”, two more is “B”, one more is “C” and so forth. Now how hard does that sound?
You could possibly make a similar argument for learning piano, for example, but I guarantee there are more guitars per capita in households across the world than pianos and buying a piano is expensive, few homes have the space for one and moving a piano is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
When I started learning to play guitar as a six year old in the mid eighties, having a teacher was pretty much necessary. I am grateful to my teacher but nowadays teachers aren’t as much of a necessity. The ability to go online to find instructional videos and written content has really changed the way people learn how to do any number of things and learning to play the guitar is no exception. I have seen people pick up the guitar these days and “teach themselves” with such incredible results that they are playing very complicated pieces by guitar legends within a few years! Like I said, if you want to learn to play “Cliffs of Dover”, go for it! However, if you want to learn to play most songs people love to sing along to, you can be good enough to entertain yourself and others in no time.
I’ll never forget the day I was in the local music store and overheard a conversation between the clerk and a very elderly man. He said he had just celebrated his ninetieth birthday and had always wanted to play the guitar. You heard me correctly. He was ninety years old and was there to buy his first guitar! So, I ask you again, have you ever wished to learn to play a musical instrument? What’s your excuse? Do it! I promise you will never have any reason to be bored ever again.