Playing guitar has always been a big part of my life. I always encourage kids, teens and parents of kids and teens to pick one up and start learning. Most people value playing an instrument, but they don’t often think of all the benefits it can provide. Here are a few from my life so far…
1. Boredom doesn’t ever happen
Since I started playing the guitar at the age of 11, I’ve never been bored, except for times when I didn’t have a guitar around. I started writing right away, so when I would get frustrated technically, I would try to write something. Today, I do a combination of practice and writing. Basically, any time I pick up the guitar, I have something to do and the only reason I put it down is that I have to move on to something else like work, family, or chores. I often hear kids complain of being bored, even though they play sports and video games. Give them an instrument.
2. It’s therapeutic
When I’m down or stressed, playing music is one of the best therapies. Sometimes, it works instantly, from the first strum of a chord. Writing music is even more therapeutic and can come easy when feeling down.
3. Get respect
Growing up, people have always respected me because of my guitar playing. Whenever they had a question about music or playing, I was their go-to musician resource. There is always a level of respect that artists of any kind get. Art is something that few people can do well, compared to other activities such as sports.
4. Earn a few bucks
Over the years, I’ve played in a few cover bands and have earned some extra spending money. In fact, I made the decision years ago to use any money earned from music to buy gear. I was lucky to get some good paying gigs which allowed me to get some nice recording equipment, guitar pedals, amps, and more. Plus, earning money from doing something that you love is always a huge bonus.
5. Move people
Years ago, a friend of mine was hanging out during my band’s practice. When everyone left, he stayed to chat a bit. I started playing a little instrumental thing I wrote on the spot which made him tear up. A few years later, I performed at it his wedding. Likewise, I’ve performed at weddings, funerals, and all kinds of celebrations. People have come up to me often to thank me for playing, saying it was so special. Of course, it’s also amazing to play in front of an energetic crowd that is jumping up and down, dancing, screaming, and all that goodness.
6. Teach someone
Nothing feels better than teaching someone something and seeing them light up. I have taught guitar in the past and always help out a friend who is trying to figure out how to play something. It is so rewarding to see them get excited when they all of a sudden play something that seemed impossible before.
7. It helps with the ladies
About to get shallow… But, the fact is some women find musicians very attractive. I’m not sure if they are attracted to the talent, the confidence, the attitude or some magical mojo that emanates from musicians. Or, it might be that musicians are obviously in touch with their emotions and pouring out their hearts and souls. Whatever it is, it has definitely been a nice perk. It’s even easier when playing on a stage in front of a crowd. If the energy is right and people are into the band, it’s almost like picking low hanging fruit. When I was single, I used to look around and find a pretty girl that was looking and smiling at me throughout the show. Then, I’d smile back and during the break or after the show, go right up to her and start talking. Simple as that.
Even as a weekend musician, I have had the opportunity to visit many places that I might have never seen had I not been a musician. I am based in California, but I have traveled for gigs all over California, Oregon, Washington, and Nevada. I have been to Chicago twice, Canada at least 5 times, and to Eastern Europe once.
10. It’s an identity
I work as a web software engineer amongst thousands of engineers. Here in Silicon Valley, being an engineer is not that special. But, being a musician is a little more unique. And being a musician who has recorded albums, written songs, and toured is even more unique. Likewise, when I was a kid, everyone played sports. I was pretty good at soccer but not close to being the best. So, playing soccer was nothing to brag about since everyone did it. But, I was one of a few kids that played an instrument seriously and formed my own band. That made me different. That became my identity. People see me as the guitar player, the entertainer.