10 Reasons Why Learning Guitar Is Awesome for Senior Citizens
–By Eric Dieter
At the moment I’m writing this, retired folks account for just over 20% of my guitar school’s roster. Many seniors wonder at first whether the guitar will be a good fit or if one can “teach an old dog new tricks.” I’m here to tell you that you CAN do it! In fact, a recent study in 2018 shows conclusively that there is no difference between the brain of a 79 year old and a 20 year old when it comes to building new neural pathways associated with learning (http://www.cell.com/cell-stem-cell/fulltext/S1934-5909(18)30121-8).
Now that you know you can do it, let’s talk about all of the reasons why you should do!
1. The Joy of Playing the Music You Love
You’ve spent your entire life participating in musical experiences from the listener’s standpoint. The thrill of having a familiar melody come from your own hands is a truly joyous experience! It’s one thing to turn on the radio and listen, it’s another to put your own hands to work on the guitar and recreate those familiar sounds yourself.
2. The Joy of Creating Music Yourself
Based on your lifetime of musical listening, I’d wager that your ear is far more sophisticated than you give it credit for. You know what sounds good to you and what doesn’t. All you need to do now is to learn a few chords and scales and you can start creating your own music! There are a few simple rules that students of all ages learn than can get them making their own music within just a few short lessons. Playing other people’s music is fun, but it does not compare the reward of expressing yourself through your very own composition.
3. Playing Guitar with Others Is a Lot of Fun
What’s better than hearing 1 guitarist play? Hearing 2 working together! Some of our fondest memories are those that we share with others. Musical experiences are no different! Playing any instrument is far more enjoyable when done with others and easier than most people think.
4. Playing Guitar for Others Feels Great
We all know how soothing and pleasurable listening to music can be. What if you were the one offering that relaxation and happiness to others? Would you played your guitar for other seniors? Your family?
5. Being the Student Again Has Benefit
With age comes wisdom, right? Sometimes taking a break from the notion that you have to have all of the answers can be freeing. Consider the gratification of being in the student role again. You get to be the one asking all of the questions! Let someone else prepare the answers while you sit back and enjoy the process of simply learning something new. The bests part about being back in this role are 1. Because you’ve chosen to learn this, you will be far more motivated and 2. You have the time to devote to it!
6. Guitarists Are Cool
Let’s face it, playing guitar will increase your cool factor. Can you imagine how cool it is to sometimes say to someone, “I can’t do this or that because I have a guitar lesson” Plus, what greater feeling can there be than performing music while other seniors watch in envy?
7. Playing Guitar Will Boost Your Mood
Simply having something to look forward to on your calendar every week can really make a difference when having a rough day. Having a recital or performance to prepare for can add focus to your daily routine.
It’s also mentally relaxing to play an instrument, as you are forced to focus on the present moment. You can’t think about the news or chores or whatever else you’d typically stress about. Playing guitar is also physically relaxing: to feel the notes vibrate against your chest and connect to your hands and body in focused way.
8. Guitar Is Convenient and Portable
Let’s face it, you’re not going to take a piano with you to your family holiday celebration. And no one has ever wished they brought a clarinet to a campfire. Guitars are lightweight to begin with, and now smaller travelled-sized versions are affordable options. Electric guitars are even cheaper, very durable, easy to play, and won’t disturb your napping spouse on vacation.
9. Playing Guitar Can Encourage Joint Health
While I cannot tell you that playing guitar can cure arthritis, studies continue to show that movements associated with guitar playing helps alleviate stiff joints and can be helpful to many forms of arthritis. Just make sure you find a trained, professional guitar teacher that can help you play the right way!
10. Being a Role Model for the Next Generation
One senior student once told me, “When I played a winter concert with the Lancaster Classical Guitar Society and saw my grandson in the audience, I had to fight back the tears.” While her own sense of accomplishment keeps her playing, that day she was able to inspire her family in a new way.
I hope that reading this article has inspired you to take action toward starting a new and exciting chapter of your like. I will conclude by leaving you with a quote from Henry Ford:
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”
About the Author
Eric Dieter is a professional guitarist and guitar teacher in Lancaster, PA. He has appeared on dozens of international albums as a session guitar player and tours with the synth-pop and prog-rock band. Eric has studied guitar at Millersville University and Berklee College of Music. Additionally, he holds a degree in psychology and a certification in hypnosis, making him uniquely qualified to train the minds and hands of aspiring musicians. Contact Eric if you are looking for guitar lessons in Lancaster, PA.