IS THE GUITAR FOR ME?
“Music, of all the arts, stands in a special region, unlit by any star but its own, and utterly without meaning ... except its own.”
― Leonard Bernstein, The Joy of Music
Listening to music ushers in a most pleasurable sensation that is hard to accurately describe. What would bring even greater delight and satisfaction is to be able to participate in the music-making process itself. As such, many aspire to be able to play a musical instrument because of the joy music gives them. The instrument which has the most profound effect on a person will inspire him/her to pick it up. Some have a soft spot for the piano, others may prefer the soothing sounds of wind instruments and there are those who find that the timbre of a guitar just gets to them. If you are thinking of learning the guitar but have some doubts and uncertainties about it, read on.
Today, the guitar remains one of the most popular instruments the world over because of its colourful sound characteristics and portability. It can practically be heard in all styles of music ranging from contemporary to classical and even folk. Being a polyphonic instrument, the guitar is often used to accompany singing. It is also beloved by many artists as their instrument of choice as it serves as a great song writing tool on the go.
Q: “I heard that the guitar can be difficult and painful to play. Is it true?”
A: Every instrument has its own unique set of challenges for the beginner and the guitar is no exception. Playing it requires one to fret the strings using the fingers of one hand, while strumming or plucking them with the other. Beginners will experience a little pain doing this initially, but it will go away as you build finger strength and callouses start to form on your fingertips. The beginning process can be made even easier and more comfortable with a good playable instrument. At this point it is critical to learn the proper playing techniques for both hands to avoid causing potential injury.
Q: “Must I be able to read music to play the guitar?”
A: It is an advantage to be able to read music but it is not necessary for casual playing. Many guitarists, even professional musicians, start out with no formal music training and learn to play by ear using chord diagrams and tablature. However, a basic understanding of music theory is still needed to see how music works.
Q: “How long will it take for me to learn the songs I want to play?”
A: It’s hard to pin down the exact duration since each person has varying aptitudes for the guitar. A person’s musical objective, learning method used and level of commitment, will eventually determine the time it takes to reach his or her desired goal. For some, their objective is to be able to strum and sing songs while others may want to play instrumental music. Although many guitarists are self-taught, a good teacher will provide invaluable insight into what’s the best approach to take and help guide you towards achieving your musical interests through the shortest path possible!
Q: “What guitar should I buy as a beginner?”
A: Choosing a guitar will depend on the type of music you want to play and your budget. Many guitarists will eventually end up owning a few types of guitars like classical, acoustic and electric. Regardless of type, guitars marketed for beginners will typically be more modest in terms of materials used, features and aesthetic appointments. This is done to keep them affordable. A decent guitar should have a soundboard (guitar top) made of solid wood, good action (height of the strings shouldn’t be too high above the fretboard) and good intonation (notes are in tune along the neck). Size is another consideration too, so find one that fits you best. Your guitar teacher will be the best person to give advice on these matters. You can also bring an experienced guitarist friend along to help you choose something suitable. Before buying, be sure to take your time and check out as many guitars as possible to have a better idea of the variety of designs and sounds available to you.
Q: “I’m not young. Is it too late to learn?”
A: No! Aside from any physical impediment or injury, with determination, you’ll be strumming in no time.
So are you ready to take the leap of faith?