So you’ve decided you want to be the next Jimi Hendrix and learn how to jam out on the guitar. The phrase “it’s never too late” comes to mind – who decides when too late is?! You’re never too old to pick up the guitar and start noodling away at the strings learning Hey Joe or Stairway to Heaven.
Learning a musical instrument is a fun and challenging past time and has many positive benefits to body, mind, and soul. On the plus side, your grandchildren will think you’re pretty cool when you bust out the guitar and start playing Hotel California at family gatherings! Well, maybe not quite, but music is a universal language that brings people together. You might even find yourself starting a band with other like-minded rockers from down the road. There are lots of free video tutorials online (try YouTube), you can learn guitar from the comfort of your own home, on your own time.
Pump up your reaction times
As you age, your reaction time becomes a lot slower, which is why picking up the guitar well into your fifties is a great idea. Learning guitar increases your reaction time and will combat your body slowing down with age.
The secret to happiness?
Studies have shown playing music makes you happy. When you are focused on practicing the guitar, the brain releases endorphins when you accomplish a tricky transition. So, mastering the solo from All Along The Watchtower will release a bunch of happy chemicals in your brain and put a smile on your dial.
Learning an instrument gets that grey matter going
Studies on the effects of learning an instrument on the brain have revealed that music strengthens your memory. Scans of the brain have shown people who learn an instrument have stronger cognitive signals between the left and right side of the brain, meaning you will be able to process information faster and store the new-found knowledge. In the study, musicians were hooked up to an EEG machine, which measures the processing of different parts of the brain. The musicians were then put to the test with a variety of memory related tests. They all scored higher than a test group of non-musicians. The scientists aren’t exactly sure why, but results don’t lie.
Music also increases the size of the nerve fibres connecting the two sides of the brain, meaning your brain is firing and active at an increased rate. The increased activity in your brain will help you ward off dementia and other brain diseases.
The executive function of the brain refers to processing information, problem-solving and the ability to process and store information. Learning guitar strengthens these traits of your brain and you will see results in your day to day life. A study in stroke patients found that listening to, or playing music, rapidly restored fine motor skills and coordination.
Playing for fun & socialisation
Besides all the positive cognitive abilities gained from learning guitar, it’s downright fun and rewarding. There’s nothing better than sitting on the porch in the afternoon with your favourite drink while playing along to your favourite song. Why not get your mates over and jam until the sun goes down? Playing music with people is a form of bonding and strengthens connections.
Like I said, it’s never too late to pick up the guitar and start strumming away. The internet is crawling with free online tutorials, so there’s no excuse to start rocking out. Not in a rocking chair, but on the guitar! The positive health benefits of playing music are only outweighed by the fun you will have doing it, so get started!