For as long as I can remember I have had an interest in music and learning to play instruments, particularly the guitar and piano. I always wanted to learn but never truly put forth the effort. Growing up, my family was not wealthy. In fact some would even say we were “dirt poor”. This contributed to not owning an instrument.
As time went on I became interested in music and singing. I discovered I would carry a tune and wanted to be able to create my own music. So after many years of saying, “I want to learn guitar” I finally decided to stop saying it and do it.
My sister got an acoustic guitar for her birthday this past August and when she did my eyes lit up. Every time I went to her house I would stare at her guitar and oh so casually ask, “So uhhh… do you ever play your guitar?” and she would reply, “Not really, I don’t have the time.” And that my friends is when the idea struck me. If she wasn’t using her guitar perhaps I could use it. I practiced a little bit on her guitar but eventually I found a inexpensive one of my own on Craigslist. Thus it began.
Thing They Don’t Tell You: Your finger tips will feel like they have been burnt off. I have soft girly finger tips which already is NOT good for playing guitar. When you press down on the strings you must press firmly. I had heard that your fingers would get calloused but no one told me about the pain I would endure until they became calloused. I continued to practice and practice so that my fingers would get rough but the more I practiced the more my fingers began to hurt. I had permanent string indention’s on my fingertips. The second day was even worse. FINALLY after a week went by I could feel the skin on my fingers had began to callous. Downside, I had lost some sensitivity in them. When I touched things with my left hand it felt different from when I touched things with my right hand. I asked a few of my friends who played guitar and were in bands and they all told me this was normal. One of them even told me that their fingers had BLED before! The thought of my fingers bleeding was a little alarming but it did not discourage me. It has been a few weeks now and my fingers are still sensitive but they are getting there. I still can’t decide how i feel about having calloused “musician” hands.
- Second Thing They Don’t Tell You: Your hands and arms will ache. Guitars are not particularly heavy but holding anything long enough will make your arms become tired. Having straps help but even those sometimes can begin to become uncomfortable. Not to mention strumming your guitar over and over and over and over can give your arm quite the work out. Your hands will also ache if your fingers are not used to being spread out while trying to play chords or from being in the same position for too long or moving too quickly. It is similar to having writers cramp. No one ever warned me of this! So when I woke up with my arms and hands aching I was a tad bit surprised.
- Third Thing They Don’t Tell You: How dang difficult it is! Perhaps for some who are just stupid, naturally, musically, talented people it might not be difficult. For those of us who were not blessed with natural instrumental skills, it is tough. As a beginner I am trying to learn basic chords, finger placement, strumming techniques and things of that nature. No one tells you how in depth it actually gets. There are SO MANY different chords and techniques. Not to mention I find it quite difficult to transition from one chord to the next. I realize of course that with an abundance of practice and time it will become easier as I memorize the chords ect…but right now I find it frustrating. A part of me secretly hoped I would be playing full songs within a week. Not how it happens folks. There are many details to playing an instrument that I never understood before until I started trying to play.
I have gained a new respect for musicians that I never had before. I have always appreciated talented people and their musical abilities as well as envied them but I never gave them the respect they deserved. Learning any skill takes time, patience and determination. When I would watch people play guitar I would be captivated by how quickly their fingers moved and the sounds that they were creating. I never thought about how many hours of practice they had put into learning that. Nor had I thought about the fact that at some point their fingers might have bled from playing so much. Not to mention the expenses of owning nice equipment. I originally wanted to learn guitar just so that I could perform and sing but now it has become much more.
Some tips to those of you who are interested in learning.
- Before you spend money on buying a guitar make sure it’s something you are serious about. Guitars can be expensive and I have known many people who bought one, tried for a few weeks and then never picked it back up. Now an expensive and perfectly good conditioned guitar sits in their room collecting dust.
- Be determined and don’t give up. Learning a skill is not always easy and most likely you will not learn how to play full songs right away. Do not let that discourage you.
- Lessons are always awesome but if you are like me and can’t afford them, then find books, dvds, and YouTube videos to help. So many people make tutorials on YouTube which has really helped me because I can see what they are doing and try to mimic them AND I can hear how it is supposed to sound.
- PRACTICE! Play all the time. Instead of sitting around and watching T.V, pull out your guitar and play. I like to play while I am watching T.V. I will watch the show and then during the commercials play around on my guitar. Sometimes I won’t even try to play songs. I will just pick individual strings or strum over and over just so I am familiar with the sounds. DON’T GIVE UP! Learning how to create music is so rewarding. It can be relaxing and healing. I encourage everyone to learn how to play an instrument!
Here are a few sites I have used:
I have also used a lot of Guitar for Beginners’ videos on YouTube.
To conclude this article I must say that learning guitar has been a bit of an adventure for me. I should have done a little research before I dove in but I am learning as I go. It has been a thrilling experience.
Much love to all of you musicians out there!