The best time to learn to play the guitar is when you are younger, at least that’s what we hear all the time, but does it really make a difference?
Most of my students are adults who have never played the guitar before. This seems surprising to a lot of people but there are many advantages to learning the guitar later in life.
The biggest advantage is you have decided to learn to play the guitar. You’re not learning it because your parents were talking to their friends and their child is learning the clarinet, so you better learn something!
Think about anything your parents made you learn because it ‘seems like a good idea’ but you had no interest in it at all. Maybe it was a sport that you couldn’t stand. Maybe it was even learning another instrument like the piano that you just didn’t see the point in learning. Did you enjoy it? Or did it feel like a chore every single time you had to practice or go?
Now compare that to something that you love doing. The time flies by and it feels effortless.
Imagine sitting down in your front room with your friends, you’re having a great time and you have the music playing in the background. After a few drinks, one of your friends notices the guitar in the corner.
What can you play on the guitar?
You smile and pick up the guitar. You pause for a moment before joining in with the chorus of the song. No music sheets. No hesitation. Your friend’s faces light up. They stop talking and start to watch you play. A few seconds later, one of them starts to sing along. By the end of the chorus, everyone is singing. As soon as the song finishes, another friend starts to scroll through their playlist on their phone.
How about this one? They ask excitedly. Can you play this one?
Learning to play the guitar is a gift you give yourself for the rest of your life and get to share with others. It doesn’t matter when you chose to start. All that matters is you spend time playing the guitar and enjoying it. Another advantage is your hands will be stronger now and be able to stretch further. This can make playing and moving chords easier. The biggest disadvantage we tend to get as we get older is we are more worried about making mistakes and we don’t like to be bad at things when we are learning something new. Allow yourself to experiment and accept that you won’t be great at the guitar right at the beginning, it will make you get better at the guitar quicker the less you worry about being perfect at the start.
Benefits of learning to play the guitar
Apart from impressing your friends (let’s face it, it’s a huge bonus when learning any skill) there are studies to show that it can help to reduce stress and anxiety and can benefit on cognitive skills. We all have busy lives and sometimes we just need something for ourselves. Throughout my time teaching, I’ve had many people tell me that they found learning the guitar to be relaxing and something which has helped them when their lives have become stressful.
As well as being a musical stress ball, learning the guitar helps to build confidence.
So are you too old to learn the guitar? Maybe yesterday was the best time to start your guitar journey, but the second-best time is right now. Don’t deprive yourself of being the guitar player you always wanted to be.